Showing, Telling, and the Art of Embodied Writing in Memoir and Nonfiction Writing

brad wetzler creative writing memoir nonfiction Nov 18, 2020


In this 30-minute writing tutorial, writing teacher and book writing coach Brad Wetzler discusses the difference between showing and telling in narrative writing and how to write in a more embodied way. 

Here are a few of the concepts Brad Wetzler addresses: 

1. What is showing? Showing involves writing in a way that allows the reader to be there with the writer. The reader is in the action. She is experiencing the place through sensory data and also experiencing the passage of time as she reads. Showing gives the reader a rich you-are-there reading experience. 

2. Telling involves summarizing an experience for the reader. The reader is further back from the action. This allows the writer to cover longer periods of time.  The writer uses more abstract language. Instead of being in the dirt with the writer, the reader is hearing about the key elements of the experience.  Telling provides more context and comprehensiveness. Telling allows the writer to comment on how the protagonist fits into larger groups and trends. 

3. Showing is not better than telling. Nor is telling better than showing. They are tools to be used by the writer to achieve different goals. In fact, a skillful writer will move through the continuum between showing and telling.