Show Me, Don’t Tell Me: The Impact of Storytelling


Written by: Amy Collette

Amy loves to work with people who make a positive impact. Amy is a Book Coach, Founder of Unleash Your Inner Author, and the Author of The Gratitude Connection. Amy helps changemakers on their journey to become published authors.

Readers say, “Show me, don’t tell me.”

Readers want to become part of the story, to be impacted by the story, not outsiders looking in.

Creative writers hear this advice all the time, but what about nonfiction? It’s the same. Readers want to enter another world, to be shown another perspective. If you simply tell the story, it leaves us readers in our heads. When you take us with you into the story, we get to experience it in our hearts.
As an author, that’s where you truly connect with the people who want the transformation you offer.
Here are some writing tips to help you engage and impact readers more. To “show me, don’t tell me.”
    1. Invite readers into your world. To do this, relax, slow down, and take us through the story like you are reliving it. You don’t have to give every detail or interaction, but when you can vividly recreate a scene, you make me feel like I’m there with you. Do this and you’ll keep people turning the page.
    2. Show the story, don’t “tell” it. For example, use real dialog. This is key whether you write the story as a novel or a memoir. You are inviting readers to be right there with you, to experience conversation as it unfolds between humans.
    3. Write what you’re feeling. When you tell just the facts, it makes for boring reading. People want to feel something, to relate to what you’re going through, even if it’s unpleasant. I find that writers hesitate about this because they feel vulnerable and exposed. I say that’s your job as a writer – to feel vulnerable and exposed and to invite your readers to understand how that feels. Transformation comes from feeling things that are often difficult or uncomfortable. That’s when people open up to making a change, of discovering what else might be possible.

Isn’t that the business we’re in as authors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these tips and how you approach these issues in your writing. Do you struggle with being vulnerable, or are you afraid of oversharing? What other thoughts (and fears) come up around this topic for you?


~Amy Collette believes in a world where thought leaders foster
deep human connection and lasting impact by sharing their inspirational stories.

Contact Amy

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