Turning Readers Into Writers

119 - Why the Advice ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Is Wrong, with Heather Davis

August 11, 2022 Emma Dhesi, Heather Davis Season 1 Episode 119
Turning Readers Into Writers
119 - Why the Advice ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Is Wrong, with Heather Davis
Show Notes

In this episode:

"I just want to write my book." This is what Heather Davis said to herself and what led her to find book coach and author, Lisa Cron, which ‌led to Heather finding Jennie Nash and Author Accelerator, with whom she trained to be a book coach.

We both agree that being a coach has made us better writers and we talk about the difference between plot and story.

For Heather, plot is what happens externally to the character, but story is what happens internally. It's that “common human experience.”

Without that story, the plot wouldn't interest anybody, and so you have to have the two intertwined. When the story is done well, it's invisible.

Heather offers a tip to discover for yourself just how well expert writers incorporate the story elements of their novel into the plot elements. By doing this exercise, you'll see just how often writers express the emotions and feelings of their characters without you even realising it.

We move on to talk about "show, don't tell" and why so many new writers misunderstand what this phrase means. It means shifting from narration to an external video camera that does tell. What is happening to your character? But you also need to show specifically why someone is responding or feeling the way they do in a given situation.

For Heather, it’s not "show, don’t tell," it’s "show and tell."

This takes us onto the importance of putting feelings and emotions on the page. Don't leave your reader in suspense, but take them through the journey with you. We discuss how it's a mistake to hide things from your reader and how you, as the writer, must be very clear about what the character is trying to express in any given scene.

We move on to talk about how writers can stay accountable and just why working with a coach or mentor helps with exactly that. It’s why both of us work with our own coaches.

Working with a coach gives you, as Heather says, “someone to nerd out with” about your novel.

To round off our conversation, Heather tells me about the book she's been working on for the last two years with Lisa Cron. She's only just finished the first draft and is very proud of the work she's done. She knows it’s a great book because she got great coaching.

She also shares more about how she coaches new novelists and just why she is passionate about helping those telling stories about those who are more marginalised in our communities. 

Connect with Heather:


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