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Tell, Don't Show!
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Tell, Don't Show!

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  27 reviews
This book will dramatically change the way you write your next first draft. And your next, and your next... The technique I share within these pages is extremely easy to learn and do. You will be able to start using it now, today, and see immediate differences in your writing.

It's also a fast read. I've condensed the book down to just a handful of pages, so you can read it
ebook, Kindle Edition, 39 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  164 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Victoria Evangelina Allen
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers


A great little book that tells you to not sweat lengthy descriptions and sets during your first draft of anything, be it an email or a novel. Make a list of items to include, or tell in short phrases what you'd like to see in that scene and move forward - fast! Looking over your first draft, start with easy tells/lists and expand them to your liking. It helps to concentrate on the whole picture of your message and not get bogged or distracted when your main task is just to put everyth
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
I picked this book because of the title. Tell, Don’t Show? But if the very well known approach to writing is “Show, Don’t Tell”, what is then this book all about?

First, you are paying to discover Mr. Lofquist’s technique, nothing else. The book is extremely short (38 pages) and this is only because we get to see a few examples. Otherwise, the content could be pretty much summed up in one paragraph.

So, why am I giving it three stars? I am giving it a positive rating because I think the approach i
May 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
A quick read because there's really very little there. I'll save you .99: list out the actions of your story before you get deep into writing it. That's basically the whole book: you should outline your story by listing what the author calls "tells", simple descriptions of what happens. Interestingly, an entire section, "Questions and Answers", was blank in my copy of this book. I'm not complaining; it cost less than a dollar. But I do wonder if I had a flawed download, which I doubt, or if the ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rev
This short book presents one great idea and puts it in terms that are easy to understand and immediately applicable. I already use a similar technique at times in my first drafts, and this book has convinced me to try using it a lot more often. Highly recommended.
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Write first, edit later

Mostly addresses fiction and all examples given are fiction, but it works for nonfiction too. A good reminder to separate the two tasks so you don't edit out the possibilities for your ideas and prevent them from ever reaching the page.
Abilio Pacheco
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is so logic, I can't understand why we don't think of it. ...more
Josh Wenger
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was dismissive of the book based on just the title, but...

I just learned more about my writing process in the last hour or so than I ever did in a classroom
Brock Books
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
First draft use narrative and lists. I have seen this advice elsewhere, like 2k to 10k.
Susan W Hervey
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I needed this!

I have been really struggling with the showing. James helped me to put it in perspective. Now maybe I can be more productive.
Lee Dunning
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This is another "pamphlet book", logging in at about 37 pages. The author is up front about that though, and the $1.49 price isn't out of line.

When I first saw the title, I was intrigued since it seems to take a stance completely opposite what the writing community accepts as proper. I decided to read it to see what this maverick author was really advocating.

As it turned out, there really isn't any crazy Mirror Universe philosophy here. It's more of a different taking on outlining. Write your b
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
So there we are, in November, NaNo'ing away and "pow"--we write a beautifully descriptive "Show" and by the time we've finished that--we've "lost the plot".
Am I right? 'Fess up--it happens.
Okay, I'll 'fess up--it happened to me. And as my creative flow subsided to a trickle, I spent d-a-a-a-ys trying to remember that fantastic plot point that was supposed to follow.
In the time spent in "showing" my reader the scenery, I'd lost track of the action.
IF ONLY I had known the "Tell" was OK in a firs
Julia Watson
Oct 16, 2015 is currently reading it
I was attracted to this book because of its take on the title of a more famous counterpart, "Show Don't Tell." I looked at the book briefly last night - it's very short and concise. I'll finish the rest later today, but so far I am intrigued by its main (probably only) point: don't get bogged down with detail and off-track during your writing - instead create a first draft that only involves the inspirational parts of your 'story'. I'm in the middle of writing my PhD and recognise that even non- ...more
Danielle Tremblay
The main idea of this book is "Don't try to get perfection in your first draft". The author teaches (with supporting examples) how to make a list of whatever you want to write in that chapter you're beginning to write and how to expand your list in a real story without trying once again to make it perfect, because we should re-read our stories once finished. Finally, that's the classical method of first planning, second writing and third revising and correcting. Nothing new. The only difference ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a short book and I think the title was a little misleading. The main premise is that if you use telling while writing difficult parts of your first drafts, you can easily move past portions were you are blocked and have more fun writing then go fill in the tells with the right details later. It has a lot of good examples for this and it seems like it could be a very helpful technique to use.
Kate Robertson
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
I think that he has some interesting ideas that I hadn't heard before. They seem simple enough and I am thinking of trying the ideas out. I liked the way he showed examples of telling and listing and then how you would add showing in the second draft. Other than this simple idea there was not much else in this short book. I enjoyed the fast read and would recommend the ideas to others. ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OH MY GOD BLEW MY MIND!!! I loved this book. It made me realize, "hey, the first draft doesn't have to be perfect (it can NEVER be perfect!). It really helped me take a new, more efficient approach to writing. I recommend it to every writer out there! ...more
Kennedi Brown
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! I never would have been able to finish my first draft without it.
Rayne Golay
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I always keep this book close at hand to check when I'm not sure if my writing shows or tells. Has saved me from some more glaring no-no's.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
No, show

A cute title, and another look at the concept--but showing is clearly the first choice. But it is always good to get another POV.
Maryann Moffit
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-thru-2018
Good examples

I like the listing method and the way it's usefulness was illustrated. Glad I decided to give this a read.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love this concept! A short guide for writers on the dreaded mantra, 'show don't tell' but in reverse engineering style. Fantastic - trying it out already and loving it. ...more
Kate Arms
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting approach to first drafts and definitely a technique to explore when the writing isn't coming, but the writing examples are trite. ...more
Karen Murray
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
a very short book but some really good and easy to use tips. this book was reassuring reassuring because I have been writing writing lists to. help me develop my stories.
James Winans II
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Great advice for people who need permission to write a cruddy first draft.
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-books
Short, sweet and thought-provoking.
Al Macy
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Simple, short, and brilliant.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
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Brian Gay
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Jun 10, 2021
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Nov 25, 2017
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Mar 21, 2014
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