WEFOUNDShow Don't Tell: A Writer's Guide (Classic Wisdom on Writing)


Sometimes, traditional code review doesn’t fully communicate the reasoning behind technical decisions. A/B coding is a technique which allows developers to show, rather than tell, the pros and cons of solutions.

Code review is an essential practice for collective development. It improves quality — fresh eyes on a problem can pick up mistakes and flawed assumptions that individual developers, no matter how diligently they check their own work, will miss. A diversity of viewpoints, with different experience, knowledge and philosophies makes it more likely that the eventual solution to a given problem will be closer to optimal. Code review also allows knowledge to be shared within the team (not to mention across teams in the organisation, as we’ve found with our new #code-reviews Slack channel).

This communicative function of code review is perhaps the most important. Not just to pick up on mistakes, but to explain to one’s fellow developers the thinking behind certain decisions and why a particular solution has been chosen — which in turn can open up debate and build consensus on the direction of development.

Sometimes, traditional code review doesn’t fully communicate the reasoning behind technical decisions. A/B coding is a technique which allows developers to show, rather than tell, the pros and cons of solutions.

Code review is an essential practice for collective development. It improves quality — fresh eyes on a problem can pick up mistakes and flawed assumptions that individual developers, no matter how diligently they check their own work, will miss. A diversity of viewpoints, with different experience, knowledge and philosophies makes it more likely that the eventual solution to a given problem will be closer to optimal. Code review also allows knowledge to be shared within the team (not to mention across teams in the organisation, as we’ve found with our new #code-reviews Slack channel).

This communicative function of code review is perhaps the most important. Not just to pick up on mistakes, but to explain to one’s fellow developers the thinking behind certain decisions and why a particular solution has been chosen — which in turn can open up debate and build consensus on the direction of development.

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably been hearing that phrase since your first creative writing class. In a Google search, “show don’t tell” gets more results—billions—than any other aspect of writing I’ve searched for. And in many of these search results, telling gets a bad rap. Why is this? And what does “show, don’t tell” really mean anyway? As an author, aren’t you always telling a story? And, most importantly, how can both showing and telling be applied to improve your fiction writing?

First let’s get one thing clear: telling is not evil. Not at all. If you’ve been taught that telling is bad, I’m here to tell you that you can relax and reverse your thinking on that count. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling, as long as you learn how to do it well. After all, stories have been told for millennia. We use the term storytelling , not storyshowing . So why has telling become the evil twin, the stern mantra of creative writing teachers? Why is the entreaty always “show, don’t tell” and not “tell, don’t show”?

The answer is simple. It’s because it’s an easy, even lazy buzz phrase for most beginning writers who, without knowing the differences, seem to gravitate to an excess of telling. And why do they do that? It’s because well-crafted, detailed showing is difficult to do, especially for novice writers. But before we go any further, let’s look at some definitions.

Sometimes, traditional code review doesn’t fully communicate the reasoning behind technical decisions. A/B coding is a technique which allows developers to show, rather than tell, the pros and cons of solutions.

Code review is an essential practice for collective development. It improves quality — fresh eyes on a problem can pick up mistakes and flawed assumptions that individual developers, no matter how diligently they check their own work, will miss. A diversity of viewpoints, with different experience, knowledge and philosophies makes it more likely that the eventual solution to a given problem will be closer to optimal. Code review also allows knowledge to be shared within the team (not to mention across teams in the organisation, as we’ve found with our new #code-reviews Slack channel).

This communicative function of code review is perhaps the most important. Not just to pick up on mistakes, but to explain to one’s fellow developers the thinking behind certain decisions and why a particular solution has been chosen — which in turn can open up debate and build consensus on the direction of development.

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably been hearing that phrase since your first creative writing class. In a Google search, “show don’t tell” gets more results—billions—than any other aspect of writing I’ve searched for. And in many of these search results, telling gets a bad rap. Why is this? And what does “show, don’t tell” really mean anyway? As an author, aren’t you always telling a story? And, most importantly, how can both showing and telling be applied to improve your fiction writing?

First let’s get one thing clear: telling is not evil. Not at all. If you’ve been taught that telling is bad, I’m here to tell you that you can relax and reverse your thinking on that count. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling, as long as you learn how to do it well. After all, stories have been told for millennia. We use the term storytelling , not storyshowing . So why has telling become the evil twin, the stern mantra of creative writing teachers? Why is the entreaty always “show, don’t tell” and not “tell, don’t show”?

The answer is simple. It’s because it’s an easy, even lazy buzz phrase for most beginning writers who, without knowing the differences, seem to gravitate to an excess of telling. And why do they do that? It’s because well-crafted, detailed showing is difficult to do, especially for novice writers. But before we go any further, let’s look at some definitions.

Don’t just tell me your brother is talented… show me what he can do, and let me decide whether I’m impressed. To convince your readers, show , don’t just tell them what you want them to know.

(To be honest, the problem here is more the vagueness than the telling, but for now I’m working with the “Show, Don’t Tell” meme, rather than against it.)

Or maybe you say something else. Maybe you think fooling with automobiles is a waste of time, or maybe you think competing in tournaments is brave, or maybe you think computer-assisted chess isn’t really chess.

Sometimes, traditional code review doesn’t fully communicate the reasoning behind technical decisions. A/B coding is a technique which allows developers to show, rather than tell, the pros and cons of solutions.

Code review is an essential practice for collective development. It improves quality — fresh eyes on a problem can pick up mistakes and flawed assumptions that individual developers, no matter how diligently they check their own work, will miss. A diversity of viewpoints, with different experience, knowledge and philosophies makes it more likely that the eventual solution to a given problem will be closer to optimal. Code review also allows knowledge to be shared within the team (not to mention across teams in the organisation, as we’ve found with our new #code-reviews Slack channel).

This communicative function of code review is perhaps the most important. Not just to pick up on mistakes, but to explain to one’s fellow developers the thinking behind certain decisions and why a particular solution has been chosen — which in turn can open up debate and build consensus on the direction of development.

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably been hearing that phrase since your first creative writing class. In a Google search, “show don’t tell” gets more results—billions—than any other aspect of writing I’ve searched for. And in many of these search results, telling gets a bad rap. Why is this? And what does “show, don’t tell” really mean anyway? As an author, aren’t you always telling a story? And, most importantly, how can both showing and telling be applied to improve your fiction writing?

First let’s get one thing clear: telling is not evil. Not at all. If you’ve been taught that telling is bad, I’m here to tell you that you can relax and reverse your thinking on that count. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling, as long as you learn how to do it well. After all, stories have been told for millennia. We use the term storytelling , not storyshowing . So why has telling become the evil twin, the stern mantra of creative writing teachers? Why is the entreaty always “show, don’t tell” and not “tell, don’t show”?

The answer is simple. It’s because it’s an easy, even lazy buzz phrase for most beginning writers who, without knowing the differences, seem to gravitate to an excess of telling. And why do they do that? It’s because well-crafted, detailed showing is difficult to do, especially for novice writers. But before we go any further, let’s look at some definitions.

Don’t just tell me your brother is talented… show me what he can do, and let me decide whether I’m impressed. To convince your readers, show , don’t just tell them what you want them to know.

(To be honest, the problem here is more the vagueness than the telling, but for now I’m working with the “Show, Don’t Tell” meme, rather than against it.)

Or maybe you say something else. Maybe you think fooling with automobiles is a waste of time, or maybe you think competing in tournaments is brave, or maybe you think computer-assisted chess isn’t really chess.

‘Show, don’t tell’ is classic advice for writers – something like a ‘golden rule’, delivered with complete surety and an authoritative tone by the last generation of authors to the next. This ‘set in stone’ approach drives many authors to try and pick it apart, but it’s survived so long for a reason: it is good advice, most of the time.

You might not always be aware of its application when reading, but you’ve probably been acutely aware of its absence when watching a poorly written film or TV show, because those are visual mediums . You know, it’s those moments when characters stand around telling you what’s going on, rather than the camera just showing you. It’s all of those infamous, explaining-the-plot-while-running scenes in Dan Brown adaptations.

Learning how to ‘show’, and when to do so, is an important skill to have as a writer, and perfecting it can mean the difference between rich, immersive writing and flat, dull prose .

Show, don't tell is a technique often employed in various kinds of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and ...

06.06.2012  · You've heard the classic writing rule, " Show . Don't Tell ." Every writing blog ever has talked about it, and for good reason. Showing, for some reason, is ...

29.05.2017  · At some point, a rich old man named Ryland W. Peaslee had made an enormous donation to the program, and this was why …

Sometimes, traditional code review doesn’t fully communicate the reasoning behind technical decisions. A/B coding is a technique which allows developers to show, rather than tell, the pros and cons of solutions.

Code review is an essential practice for collective development. It improves quality — fresh eyes on a problem can pick up mistakes and flawed assumptions that individual developers, no matter how diligently they check their own work, will miss. A diversity of viewpoints, with different experience, knowledge and philosophies makes it more likely that the eventual solution to a given problem will be closer to optimal. Code review also allows knowledge to be shared within the team (not to mention across teams in the organisation, as we’ve found with our new #code-reviews Slack channel).

This communicative function of code review is perhaps the most important. Not just to pick up on mistakes, but to explain to one’s fellow developers the thinking behind certain decisions and why a particular solution has been chosen — which in turn can open up debate and build consensus on the direction of development.

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve probably been hearing that phrase since your first creative writing class. In a Google search, “show don’t tell” gets more results—billions—than any other aspect of writing I’ve searched for. And in many of these search results, telling gets a bad rap. Why is this? And what does “show, don’t tell” really mean anyway? As an author, aren’t you always telling a story? And, most importantly, how can both showing and telling be applied to improve your fiction writing?

First let’s get one thing clear: telling is not evil. Not at all. If you’ve been taught that telling is bad, I’m here to tell you that you can relax and reverse your thinking on that count. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling, as long as you learn how to do it well. After all, stories have been told for millennia. We use the term storytelling , not storyshowing . So why has telling become the evil twin, the stern mantra of creative writing teachers? Why is the entreaty always “show, don’t tell” and not “tell, don’t show”?

The answer is simple. It’s because it’s an easy, even lazy buzz phrase for most beginning writers who, without knowing the differences, seem to gravitate to an excess of telling. And why do they do that? It’s because well-crafted, detailed showing is difficult to do, especially for novice writers. But before we go any further, let’s look at some definitions.

Don’t just tell me your brother is talented… show me what he can do, and let me decide whether I’m impressed. To convince your readers, show , don’t just tell them what you want them to know.

(To be honest, the problem here is more the vagueness than the telling, but for now I’m working with the “Show, Don’t Tell” meme, rather than against it.)

Or maybe you say something else. Maybe you think fooling with automobiles is a waste of time, or maybe you think competing in tournaments is brave, or maybe you think computer-assisted chess isn’t really chess.

‘Show, don’t tell’ is classic advice for writers – something like a ‘golden rule’, delivered with complete surety and an authoritative tone by the last generation of authors to the next. This ‘set in stone’ approach drives many authors to try and pick it apart, but it’s survived so long for a reason: it is good advice, most of the time.

You might not always be aware of its application when reading, but you’ve probably been acutely aware of its absence when watching a poorly written film or TV show, because those are visual mediums . You know, it’s those moments when characters stand around telling you what’s going on, rather than the camera just showing you. It’s all of those infamous, explaining-the-plot-while-running scenes in Dan Brown adaptations.

Learning how to ‘show’, and when to do so, is an important skill to have as a writer, and perfecting it can mean the difference between rich, immersive writing and flat, dull prose .


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