Purple Prose + writerly books

On My Writerly Bookshelf: Show & Tell

We know we’re supposed to show and not tell (most of the time), but do you really know how to show what you want to say? Or do your critique partners keep getting on your case for telling instead of showing?

Jessica Bell recently released her new book Show and Tell in a Nutshell. In it, she presents sixteen examples on how to show different attributes instead of “telling” them. For each example, she lists the key points she wants to show (for example, boredom, living conditions, mess) and turns it into a telling paragraph. She then presents the same information, but in a scene rich with “showing."

If, like me, you need a list of rules and explanations, then your best bet is to first read Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (I reviewed the book here). Jessica’s book doesn’t share a list of dos and don’ts for showing verses telling. Instead, it provides you with before and after examples that you can analyze to see how Jessica improved the scenes with showing.You then apply the results to your own writing. The two books complement each other in this way. If you are the type of writer who prefers dissecting examples to see why it worked, and aren’t into a list of dos and don’ts, then Jessica’s book is perfect for you. Either way, Show and Tell in a Nutshell can benefit your writing if you struggle with the concept of show and tell.

In addition to the above, Show and Tell in a Nutshell provides a list of different attributes (e.g. alcoholism, anger, flu, lust, panic attack) so you can see examples of how you can show them in your story. This is a great starting place if you’re not sure how to do it.

What’s your preferred learning style? Studying lists of dos and don’ts, analyzing excerpts to see how authors performed their magic, or a combination of the two?

If you’re interested in winning a copy of Show and Tell in a Nutshell, Jessica is giving away a copy on Goodreads. Good luck!


And the winners of the New Adult giveaway last week are:

Christina Lee

Both winners have already been contacted. I hope you enjoy your books. :)

best, book, bookshelf, hope, release, showing, telling, and more:

On My Writerly Bookshelf: Show & Tell + writerly books