Show modafucker, don’t tell!

Normalmente as más reviews de livros portugueses ficam-se a dever ao facto de os escritores fazerem “Tell” em vez de “Show”. Enquanto leitora é extremamente chato estar a ser alimentada com uma colher de ouro, sentadinha, de cú alapado a absorver informação despejada. A maior parte dos autores mais inexperientes revelam o quão difícil é, de facto, debitar informação sem ser de forma directa. Existem, no entanto truques.
Este excerto foi retirado do livro: Writing a Novel and Getting it Published e faz parte do capítulo com o nome “Show, don’t tell.”

Many inexperienced writers make the mistake of telling their reader everything instead of simply showing them. If you tell the reader something, they can only agree. If you show them something, you let them come to their own conclusions. Showing rather than telling helps a reader to get involved in a story. The popularity of detective novels points to the fact that readers like to work; they want the satisfaction of participating in the story.


Joanne and Jeremy were dancing together. Simon watched them with a jealous expression on his face.


Simon was standing in a dark corner, watching them. His fists were clenched tight by his sides and the muscles of his jaw moved as if grinding hard corn. Someone walked past and spoke to him, but he ignored them. His eyes never left the dancing couple.


Joanne was beautiful.


Joanne walked into the room and the atmosphere changed. An animated conversation taking place next to the door stopped in mid-sentence. Simon realised that, along with the rest of the room, he was staring. He realised this at the same moment that he noticed that his glass was overflowing and whiskey was pouring onto his shoes.

Through showing, you allow readers to use their own interpretation and standards. Beauty, for example, is always in the eye – or imagination – of the beholder. Showing the effects that a character or an object has on the surroundings also allows you to surprise the reader – if a character brings the room to a halt just by walking into it, and you later reveal that she’s decidedly plain, you say something about her without having to spell it out. Showing rather than telling also brings characters and situations to life. ‘Joanne was beautiful’ is vague and unhelpful, as well as being lazy. You need to work to keep the reader’s attention. Showing the reader things rather than telling them is one way to achieve this aim.

Green, G. & Kremer, L. (2007). Writing a Novel and Getting it Published. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (pp. 258-259)


About Adeselna Davies

Occasionally works as an English and German teacher, also loves to read all kind of books and wish someone would pay her to read and write reviews forever. She is also a magazine designer and writes short-stories.

2 responses to “Show modafucker, don’t tell!

  1. Eu passo a vida a pensar nisso nos meus textos e cada vez mais me irrita ver escritores a ignorarem isso nos seus livros já publicados. Deve haver muita gente desconhecedora desta “regra” que não tem necessariamente de ser usada em todos os momentos narrativos, mas que deve ser bem abusada. 🙂

  2. Concordo em absoluto e cumpro essa regra sempre que posso.

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