Divas Recommend: Five Instances When You Need To Tell (and not show) by Amanda Patterson


I’m sure many authors have heard the phrase “show, don’t tell” over and over. I’ve been known to harp about this to the authors whose manuscripts I’ve edited. But is it always appropriate to show, not tell? I came across a wonderful article by Amanda Patterson, founder of Writers Write in South Africa. In Patterson’s article, “Five Instances When You Need To Tell (and not show),” she discusses when to tell and not show. The key to applying the ideas in this week’s Divas Recommend is to not overdo it. Just because backstory might be a good place to tell instead of show doesn’t mean you should fill your manuscript with backstory.

Check out Patterson’s article and let us know what you think. Are there other times it’s better to tell and not show? We’d love to hear your ideas.



  1. Amanda’s examples are all good; the problem in many manuscripts editors receive is that authors (especially newer ones) tend overuse these techniques. The ratio of times I’ve written “less telling/more showing” the times I’ve noted “more telling/less showing” is about ten to one.

    • I agree. I’ve had authors offer to buy me a T-shirt that says “show, don’t tell.” The key is to not overuse these instances. And as editors, we’ll be sure to point out when they are. đŸ˜‰

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