Alida, Kathryn, and Robert discuss the rules of writing we all know but often don’t fully understand, how they trip us up and actually become limiting factors in our writing. If you’ve ever been told “show, don’t tell,” “adverbs are bad,” or any number of other writing rules, you have to listen to this conversation at the Round Table. The good, the bad, and the ugly writing that happens when we take the rules too far!




Show, don’t tell! Don’t think, feel, and wonder your way through a manuscript. Dig deep! Use that narrative exposition. Use your dialogue and action sequences. Write visually. Never use adverbs. Use the right word choice. Make your writing strong and not weak. Don’t use to be! Don’t use said! We tackle some of the most commonly touted writing rules and how they should actually apply rather than some of their more misunderstood applications.

What we talked about:

“Show don’t tell!” (0:53)

The tools writers use to show versus tell, and how it can hurt your writing when misunderstood. (3:50)

The trap of “thinking, feeling, wondering”. (5:24)

Don’t forget your narrator! (7:44)

Show versus tell in first person point of view. (10:58)

“Adverbs are absolutely the worst things to use.” (13:15)

Strong versus weak in verbs, sentences, or word choice. (16:35)

“Don’t use verb forms of to be,” and other examples of weak writing. (18:50)

Using the word “said”. (24:25)

Writing is an artistic skill set, and rules are training wheels. (29:48)


Things we mentioned:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Storyworks Guide to Writing Point of View
Dead Poets Society

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 31: Action Scenes
Flash Tip: Slow Writing

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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