How to Write: Show and Tell

“Show; don’t tell.” Writers take great pride in passing on this standard advice. But what does it mean to “show” instead of “tell”? What does “show don’t tell” look like? And is that a hard-and-fast rule or just a rule of thumb? Are there any situations in which you should “tell,” not “show”? If you’ve […]

How to Make a Character Sound Angry

The other day, my Little One and her friend were going over a story they were writing, when my ear caught a dialogue tag: “she shouted angrily.” Naturally, I butted right in. And unfortunately, my advice was not taken to heart by my Little One’s friend, who, I gather, had originally written the line and […]

When Great Authors Break the Rules

Can you guess which novel the following beginning comes from? Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense. […]

Should You Always Avoid the Verb “To Be”?

A fundamental rule of style is that you should avoid the verb “to be,” preferring instead strong, descriptive verbs that show, rather than tell. As an example, instead of writing, “The light was bright,” you should prefer, “The light blinded her as a hot-white flame,” or some such. So every time you use am, is, […]