Thursday, December 20, 2012

G22 Show & Tell in a Nutshell; Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing

Title of the book: Show & Tell in a Nutshell; Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing

Author: Jessica Bell

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press

Publishing Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-1480234475

(from goodreads)

Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

Other Works:

She wrote String Bridge, Fabric, The best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012, and so forth.

(from the book)
The Australian native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, 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 please visit:
Vine Leaves


"This is what successful showing does. It uses the five senses (and sixth) to evoke an emotional response from your reader without telling them how you want them to feel. Simply put, does me saying Hilary felt scared make you feel scared? Of course not." (5)

Problem addressed:

Show don't tell is very vague and not a lot of direction is given. (I have three guides on writing; one by Damon Knight, another a 2001 Writer's Handbook, and last one is What if?) Nobody really explains what they mean by show don't tell. They expect writers to understand intuitively. Jessica Bell, on the other hand, wrote a short handbook that demonstrates show vs telling paragraphs, labeling them. I sort of understand the difference, but its a very clear understanding.

Summary of content:

There are sixteen scenes in the book. In beginning the author writes down what emotions she's portraying in the telling paragraph. Then she tells in the paragraphs, creating a dry reading. The next page is of the showing with interesting details, and last page are notes that an author can take. The very back are blank pages for notes, and then three exercises one can try to demonstrate the showing vs telling.


Showing and not telling can be learned. This book is very helpful to writers in distinguishing the differences between that.

Main Points:

Writing in a cinematic way and really bringing a reader into a character's skin is very important for a writer. No one would want to read a flat novel without the details that help us like characters. One last thing is that while showing is important, moving the plot is important too, thus the writing needs to be told sometimes as well, at least to move the plot along.

Why its interesting and informative:

Its not a technical book and its easily understood. Anyone can understand it and it can click with writers instantly. I had to learn about it in a more difficult way. (I suspect a book and opening up myself were heavily involved.) One can also check out how to portray different various emotions and situations through showing with a handy index in the back.

Successfully supports thesis:

I think it does successfully support the thesis and it does teach showing vs telling.

Outside sources:

I have three books dealing with writing: one is titled What If? 2nd edition, another Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight, and last but not least is the Writer's Handbook 2001. Writer's Handbook 2001 and Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight don't even have a section on showing vs telling, at least in index and on table of contents I couldn't locate them. What If? does have it, but the writing is confusing and technical, at least when compared to Show & Tell by Jessica Bell. (I haven't read the authors brought up and one is expected to understand the difference already in four pages through three different and confusing versions!)

Addressing Issues:

In What If? the issue of Show Don't Tell is on complex, as well as the chosen paragraphs. I didn't understand the meaning and what the author is encouraging. (The book was used as a textbook for a beginning writing class! Shouldn't what it is be addressed first before encouraging us to use both?)

Small Ideas vs larger ideas: 

It simplifies Show and Tell so the future writer can simply read it and do exercises and then it can click intuitively. Remember too, its important to use both instead of just only showing or only telling. (Please read Anne Rice's Witching Hour for a good example of when Showing is used way too much... and for telling, I might recommend any of Jane Austen's novels.)


I agree with her opinions. I also wonder if the reason I'm not a big fan of classics is because I have gotten used to cinematic writing instead of dry writing.


This is not revision but first edition.


The author didn't use any special sources but purely used examples from her own writing in demonstrating the Show or Tell paragraphs.


If you have always wanted to make your writing more cinematic and beautiful and aren't sure of Show and Tell, I would advice you to pick up this handy-book and try to see if it can help you understand what's going on and how to write the scenes correctly.

Quick notes: I won this book on thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

 4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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