Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Show & Tell with Jessica Bell

Dude, that rhymes! I swear I didn't do that on purpose. But today, I'm hosting a friend of mine, Jessica Bell, as she talks about her new novella, SHOW, DON'T TELL. It's a pocket-guide, and everyone who writes needs it in their back pocket.

Jessica's here to talk about her new book, so let's leave her to it!


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When I first started writing, the SHOW, DON'T TELL rule was something I often tried to ignore. "What do they know?" I thought. They don't write the kinds of stories I write. And take a look at all the telling in Great Expectations, in Pride & Prejudice, in Wuthering Heights!

But it didn't take long for me to realize that literature has evolved. And continues to evolve. Nowadays, readers want to be a part of the stories they read, not spectators. So who are we to rob them of this experience? Let's give them what they want.

When you show, rather than tell, this is exactly what you give them. An experience. Through Show & Tell in a Nutshell, I will help you accomplish this.

I wrote this book because when I started out I didn't understand the concept very well. I craved real examples. "How can you not see what's happening when I'm telling you it's happening?" I thought. Every writing craft book and blog would explain what it meant, but rarely would I see an actual example that showed me a transition from telling to showing that clearly demonstrated the difference. There still aren't any resources out there that focus only on this very important writing skill. Of course, there are writing craft books that include it, but the issue is more often than not bogged down with technical jargon, and other aspects of the craft that take away from its importance. I believe this book will allow an aspiring writer to block out all the "rules" and focus on this one thing that will teach them how to give their writing the colour it deserves.

Of course, you can't show everything. Sometimes you need to tell in order to move the necessary, but not so important, moments of your story forward. So when someone suggests you to "show" something, you need to evaluate whether this moment in your story deserves such undivided attention. It's something you will learn with practice.

How did you respond to the SHOW, DON'T TELL rule when you first started writing? If you are a beginner, have you completely understood the difference? If so, what brought about your AHA moment?

She's a genius, right? I mean, what a focused little guide -- a gem! -- to have in your writing repertoire.

Purchase the paperback:

Purchase the e-book:

About Jessica Bell:

An Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, who also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica, please visit: 






Ted Cross said...

I hadn't read anything about how to write when I wrote my first book. like Jessica, it took me awhile to really GET what was meant between showing and telling. It's really easy when you are just starting out to see your writing as being really great and dismissing all the people telling you these 'rules'. Part of the problem is that some people who are telling you what to do really aren't worth listening to; it takes some time to learn enough to be able to trust yourself on these problems.

Jessica Bell said...

Haha, I haven't been called a genius by a genius before, so thank you so much :-) Really appreciate you hosting me! xx

PK HREZO said...

Jess, I think this could be your niche. (But yeah I know you have so

Props for Show, Don't Tell! :)

Anonymous said...

I read, with eagerness, about this book on WOW and am glad to see it highlighted again. I think this is one I need to add to my craft collection

Matthew MacNish said...

LOL at Jess's comment. So awesome.

ilima said...

So true that you can't show everything, and learning when to tell is so important. Cool beans.

Jenny S. Morris said...

This is genius. I was like Jessica when I first started getting those notes on my writing. And I'm still learning what it truly means to show not tell. And when it's okay to tell. But now I find myself leaving notes like that for my CP's. At least in other peoples books I've started being able to pick out when I'd like to be in the action.

I'll have to pick up a copy of this!!

Jessica Bell said...

Ted, I would have to agree with you. And when you're starting out, you don't really know who to trust either.

PK: LOL, thanks, hon.

Julie, I hope it proves useful to you!

Matt, yeah my comment's pretty lame. And I realised after I typed it that it sounds like I mean I already knew I was a genius! I DIDN'T mean that. Haha. Thanks Elana, I'm honored.

ilima, it definitely is. I love the phrase cool beans :-) Gonna have to see where that originated from. Curious ...

Jenny, thank you! It really does just take practice, but a little nudge in the right direction never hurts, right?

Thanks for all dropping by!

Patti said...

This book sounds like it might be made for me.

Mart Ramirez said...

I just seen this book on Stina's blog and am hooked! Sounds awesome! Thank you for sharing the breakdown with us, Elana.

kristine N said...

Okay, I just read Julie's book. Totally worth it, both in time and money. The examples are perfect (which I am telling, not showing because my fingers itch to expand my story, not a blog comment!). Elana, thanks for highlighting the book, and Julie, thanks for writing such a quick and thoroughly educational book.

Jessica Bell said...

Patti, I hope so :-)

Martha, thanks so much for your interest!

Kristine, I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for the great comments. What is it with J names, huh? I always get called either Julie or Jennifer. Haha. ;-P

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I read it this past weekend - her examples rock!

kristine N said...

D'oh! I have a friend named Julie Bell. Sorry Jessica--I didn't mean to mix up your name with hers!

Jemi Fraser said...

I remember not having a clue what 'show don't tell' meant! Love your book, Jess!

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