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William Noble
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Show, Don't Tell: A Writer's Guide

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  8 reviews
If one hears one thing from every single writing instructor it’s, “Show, don’t tell.”
“Don’t tell us he’s afraid of losing her, show us!”
“Don’t tell us it’s a richly decorated room, show us!”
“Don’t tell us the Russian tundra is cold, show us!”
Easier said than done, and no one ever wrote a book on how to do it, that is until William Noble wrote this classic work a decade a
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 15th 1993 by Paul S Eriksson (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  105 ratings  ·  8 reviews

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Peter West
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-craft
There is some useful material in this book, but it takes a lot of digging around to find it. I'm not sure who this book is aimed at. It seems to be 70% analysis of literature with examples, combined with a general theme of how many different ways show and tell can appear in fiction. The focus seems to wander around. A more concise and specific book would have been better for me, but maybe I'm not the target market. ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Found a used copy of this in an old bookstore. The market needs a good book on SDT, but the title here is a bit misleading. This is actually a very general book on writing and as such, dated but not bad, but the information on SDT techniques was minimal and disappointing, IMO.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
3.5 / 5 stars rating

This review is also posted at

“Show don’t tell.” Every novice writer has been given this advice. I heard it over and over at the writers’ conference I went to last year. Yet no one took the time to explain how one goes about showing instead of telling. This is what Noble attempts to do in this novel.

Noble breaks his advice into the following sections:
– an intro that pops
– using sparing backstory
– adding tension to your story
– focusing o
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Whilst I found some of this useful, my overriding impression was that this was a great title in search of content.

Noble says his publisher came up with the title, riffing on the ubiquitous "Show and Tell" of US kindergarten education. And yes, it does sum up a major element of weak writing. But you also have writers like - well, TOLSTOY, for goodness sake, who does plenty of telling, rather than showing. And it's brilliant, breathtaking stuff to read.

But I'm being overly critical. Noble descri
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written guide to writing fiction.

There are many excellent guides available on the craft of writing. I enjoyed this one and upon reaching the end, I felt I was saying farewell to a good friend. Hopefully, my writing will be richer as a result.
Kay Love
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great tool for writers.
Allan Fisher
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, writing
Some great advice with plenty of techniques littered throughout.
Oby Ode
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read book for want to be authors. Its direct, and backed with numerous excerpts from a variety of authors which help to enhance comprehension.
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