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Do You Always Show in Creative Writing?

I answer questions on Quora,

This one came up:   Do you always have to show and not tell in creative writing?

Sometimes we get very wound around the axel figuring out show and not tell.   Ironically, in our visual world, showing is far easier than telling.  But in fiction and creating writing telling is far easier, which why you want to avoid as much as possible.

But not all.

All good writing mixes it up.  Showing is important for love, action, and dialogue.   Bring the reader along, let them feel your heroine’s pain, your hero’s wounds. But sometimes just telling the reader the heroine drove from Santa Barbara to LA is enough, especially if nothing interesting happened during the drive.

A good rule of thumb:  for the trivial, tell. For the important, show.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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