Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 29, 2019

What to Show, Tell, and Omit, Part 2

            Every writer must decide what to show, tell, or omit in a manuscript.

Check out these tips:

When characters talk (dialog) they should not repeat what they already know, unless the action took place a few chapters prior and the repetition is used to remind the reader. The purpose of dialog is to enhance character development and push along the plot. If your dialog isn’t doing that, omit it.

Limit the use of “he said” and “she said” as dialog tags. Allow the character to show some action to let the reader know who is speaking. 

Dialog should be authentic. It should sound like the age, gender, and culture of the speaker. A young child sometimes mispronounces words. That can be worked into the dialog to make the character seem real. 

“Don’t go there,” Annie said.

Annie stopped and stared at Jim. “Don’t go there.”

Also limit the length of a character’s dialog. A character that fills in an entire page without interruption, may be (probably is) talking too much.

Use exposition (explaining) sparingly. Large chunks of information should be fed to the reader in small doses to keep the interest high and the action moving.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Blue Marble Review. Are you age 13 to 21? (Or do you have writing kids?) If so, then Blue Marble Review is worth considering since there are few paying markets for teen writers. They accept fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Pay is $25 ($75 for cover art). All submissions should be unpublished.
Submissions guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Writer magazine: “Calling all YA & kidlit authors: We’re currently accepting pitches for our annual “Writing for Young Readers” issue! We are interested in how-to stories, reported pieces, narrative essays, and profiles of writers and others in the field.

Submissions guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 50+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

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