Writing Exercises

Author Aerobics: Telling Challenge

Here’s this week’s Author Aerobics challenge. Answers to the challenge will be posted on Friday. If you want to participate just post a link to your entry in the comments below and I’ll update this post with links to yours. Everyone’s welcome!


Telling Challenge

“Show, don’t tell.” You hear it over and over again. It’s one of the most often quoted ‘rules of writing’, but pick any novel off your shelf, and you’ll find that the authors do not just show, they also tell. Perhaps the reason that we’re encouraged to “show” is because, in unskilled hands, telling can be badly done.

When is telling useful? Here are a few thoughts…

  • When it’s impossible to know something by describing the action.
  • When something is not important enough to describe in full, but must be known.
  • To illustrate the thoughts or personality of a particular character.
  • To create irony.

When to tell instead of show. This is a great article on Kidlit that pulls examples of ‘good’ telling from the Harry Potter series.

This week’s challenge: Write a piece of short fiction (1000 words or less) that involves ‘good’ telling. The theme for this week: “afterlife.”


And thank you so much to Tessa from Tessa’s Blurb for the One Lovely Blogger Award! I’ll pass it on later this week.


The quick-fingered this week:

12 Comments

    1. No exams this week… Next exam isn’t until next week… I’ll have the weekend.

      I’ll make it short… and yeah… close to the line in my head. A little cliched… perhaps. But if done right… maybe good. I’ve got a character in my head, now, too… Someone for whom this line will be a little more surprising.

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