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Stein on Writing

Stein on Writing

Found a great example of Show not Tell today– ‘an evolution from telling to showing’ as Sol Stein puts it:

He took a walk.

He walked four blocks.

He walked four blocks slowly.

He walked the four blocks as if it were the last mile.

He walked as if against an unseen wind, hoping someone would stop him.

I think I’m going to tape this example to my study wall.

Have you recently found some writing advice, a concrete example, or a writing book that was helpful?


Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Priya says:

    I haven’t read any writing advice, Damyanti, but I did randomly found a couple of sentences somewhere that have been niggling that lazybones in me — “Don’t keep waiting for your ship. Swim to it.”

    If I could but follow this advice, I just might write a book I’ve been wanting to!

  • Rebel Sowell says:

    I put it on my wish list. Thanks!

  • jennie says:

    I need to read a writing about writing book. Maybe it will help to get me to write a little everyday…

  • One of the better books on writing that I’ve read: “The Making of a Story” by Alice LaPlante. This is not a book of rules but thoughtful reflections on all aspects of writing a novel. The examples from writers of established excellence are a teaching in themselves.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I like the example. Haven’t read any writing books lately, but I have several on the shelf to be read.

    I’m able to comment on WordPress again. Yay!

    An A to Z Co-Host
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  • Ben Lund says:

    Those sentences are conveying different things. Too many authors get hung up on the prose itself and effectively write the reader out of the circumstance.

    If you have a compelling idea, don’t dance too far away from it.

    Lastly, the above example runs contrary to Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. It reads as though written by a 10 year old, until you realize what you’re reading.

  • I love STORY by Robert McKee. It’s for screenwriting, but I’ve never found a better book on story arc and character development.

  • DarcKnyt says:

    I’ve never been fond of Stein. I found him condescending and a bit too full of himself. But I do enjoy James Scott Bell’s books, and have learned a lot from them. Also from Chris Voegler’s Writer’s Journey. I’m really enjoying James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel II which is chock-full of GREAT information, but not so much specific information except examples from published works.

  • Stuart Nager says:

    Thanks Damyanti. I’ll look for the book in my library system.

  • That is excellent!! I’m going to mark it right now.

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