Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Show, Don't Tell interview with Sandi Underwood

Today and next week, I’m interviewing, Sandi Underwood, a friend and author. She’ll give us ideas of how she incorporated show, don’t tell into her new book, THE SECRET OF THE AFRICAN AMULET.

NKA: What does show, don't tell means to you as a writer?

SU: Thank you, Nancy, for the opportunity to talk about something near and dear to my heart. My first thought about this crucial writing technique is, as a writer who loves words, telling normally takes more words than showing. And like most writers, I’m guilty of loving my words! However, taking it one step further, as a reader I much prefer the writer who has successfully mastered the art of showing. The difference often determines whether or not I’ll continue to read the book. Editors must surely look at manuscripts in the same manner. A book filled with action is much more captivating that one filled with description.

NKA: How did the use of show, don't tell improve the writing in your book.

SU: In my new e-book, THE SECRET OF THE AFRICAN AMULET, (published by Keith Shaw at my main character gets caught up in magic spells and native tribes in Africa. She dreams about being the ‘guest of honor’ at a human sacrifice. The following two sentences relate the same information, but the second sentence shows the action instead of telling it:
The flames burned closer and closer.
Scorching flames licked at her bare feet.

Another example of showing is to incorporate the actions of sub-characters, in this case, the pet cat:
Primrose, the cat, even seemed to sense the danger as she disappeared into the closet. It was as if she knew more than she was telling.
Consider changing to:
Primrose warily padded over to the partially closed closet doors and peered inside. Her long fluffy tail swished rapidly back and forth, as if the wise cat knew more than she was telling. After a few minutes, Primrose disappeared into the shadowy closet.

By showing the rapidly swishing tail of the cat, the reader understands, without being told, there is more here than meets the eye.

NKA: Thanks, Sandi, for your explanation and great examples. Next week Sandi is going to give us more advice on using show, don’t tell.

If you would like to purchase Sandi's e-book, The Secret of the African Amulet, log on to

1 comment:

  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! I will heed this advice.