Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell.

This is probably something you’ve seen me say before if you’ve been reading critiques. It’s probably something you’ve heard other people say before. So if you don’t know what it means, I’ll explain it quickly.

Telling: Captain America is heroic.

Showing: Captain America fought the Red Skull and saved the city of New York.

Both sentences get the idea that Cap is heroic across. But the second one is detailed and more effective.

This is an issue in query letters when somebody says their book is “a heart-warming tale” or a “humorous adventure.” Instead of telling me that it’s heart-warming, write a query letter that gives me warm fuzzies. Instead of telling me that it’s humorous, write a query letter that makes me laugh. A well crafted query letter should match the tone of the book, and will imply a lot about the nature of the book.

This is actually also a very useful skill if you ever have to write a statement of intent or cover letter. Instead of saying you’re a hard work, give an example of a time you worked hard. You’ll stand out from all the other hard workers who applied.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Show, Don’t Tell

  1. I suppose there’s the subjective/objective factor, too. “I work hard” — HOW hard? Juggling two jobs and a hardcore degree hard or doing your homework like a schoolkid hard (which is hard in itself… For that age group only, though).

  2. Pingback: Query Critique 40 | Thoughts From the Agent Desk

  3. Pingback: Query Critique 43 | Thoughts From the Agent Desk

  4. Pingback: Query Critique 51 | Thoughts From the Agent Desk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s