Are you a storyteller or a storyshower?

Thoughts on ‘Show not tell’ from Misha Burnett.


If you write fiction you’re a storyteller. Other media–movies and comics, for example, show the audience the story. Fiction tells a story.

The oft-repeated advice, “show, don’t tell” is good for filmmakers and artists, but I have become convinced that it’s counterproductive for fiction writers.

And the examples used to back up the advice don’t even make sense. Because when you write “Alice stomped her feet and snorted” instead of “Alice was angry,” you are still telling the reader what happened.

All you’ve done is switched from a more conceptual to a more concrete description. Both have their place, depending on the mood and flow of the narrative.

Fiction, by its nature, is able to deliver conceptual information in ways that no other medium can. This is why films made from novels so often seem lackluster and dull compared to the source material. All a movie can do is show.

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