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The Art of Balance: Blending Show and Tell in Fiction Writing

In the world of fiction writing, two titans have long been at odds: show and tell. Writers often find themselves debating which technique is superior, staunchly defending their chosen favorite. But what if neither side is meant to win this age-old battle? What if the secret to crafting a captivating story lies in striking the perfect balance between these two storytelling methods? In this blog post, we'll explore the delicate dance between showing and telling, and how you can weave them together to create an enthralling tale that keeps readers hooked.

The Power of Showing

Picture this: a writer named Jamie is working on a novel and introduces a character named Phil. She could simply tell her readers that Phil is kind-hearted and loves animals, but that wouldn't be nearly as engaging as showing Phil in action. By weaving a scene where Phil rescues a stranded kitten in the pouring rain, Jamie invites readers to witness Phil's kindness firsthand and connect with him on a deeper level.

The Importance of Telling

However, even a talented writer like Jamie can get carried away with too much showing, leaving readers feeling overwhelmed. That's where telling comes in. For example, if Phil has a secret he's never shared with anyone, Jamie could painstakingly provide every clue hinting at his hidden past. But this might slow the story down. Instead, using telling to give readers just enough information keeps them intrigued without bogging them down in unnecessary details.

Finding the Sweet Spot

So, how can writers like Jamie find the perfect balance between showing and telling? Here are a few tips:

  1. Pacing: If a scene is moving too slowly, try using telling to speed it up. If it's racing along too quickly, try showing to add depth and detail.

  2. Emotions: When you want your readers to feel a character's emotions, showing is often the way to go. However, sometimes a well-placed telling can be just as effective.

  3. Feedback: Share your work with beta readers and listen to their comments. If they're consistently confused or bored, it might be time to reassess your balance of showing versus telling.


Balancing show and tell is a delicate dance that can make or break a story. It's not about choosing one over the other, but rather finding harmony where both methods work together to bring your tale to life. As for Jamie, she's still hard at work on her novel, discovering new ways to blend show and tell to captivate her readers. And who knows, maybe one day you'll pick up her book, get lost in her story, and experience first-hand the power of finding the right blend in fiction writing.

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