Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Over-do-er's Editing Checklist Part 3: Show Instead of Tell

Hey everyone, and thanks again for being so appreciative of my last editing checklist post. :) Today, to follow up the posts on structure and point of view, I bring you my checklist for showing instead of telling. (Well, technically it's over at my new blog, of course).


Show Instead Of Tell:

1. Describe things using different senses, rather than just sight. Smell, in particular, can really bring a scene to life.

... 3. Make sure your beats are original, and try and build a character’s personality rather than just their mood at the time. e.g. A character biting their nails will show they’re anxious, but it’s a cliché. What other nervous traits would build that character? i.e. If they’re a writer, their nervous tick could be to compulsively tap their pen against their desk.

... 6. If you must convey a piece of information through dialogue or thoughts, make sure you're at least showing something, by using words which build character or voice.

... 12. Don't forget to check for situations where showing may not be necessary. e.g. it’s dull, irrelevant, or would be much simpler as a tell.


  1. Show don't tell. Rule number one.

    When I first started writing there was a quote by Chekhov I had written on a post it note that was taped to my computer: "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."

    That quote simply inspired me.

    1. That's brilliant - thanks Donna!

    2. I've seen this quote before. A good one.
      Kat, it took me long time to truly grasp this. When I finally did I was so frustrated without myself for not getting much earlier.

  2. Very good points:)