Show vs Tell by Gerri Brousseau

When I sat down to attempt to write my first book, I had no idea there were rules of writing. Although I was an avid reader, I had never heard of “point of view,” “a hero’s journey,” or “show vs. tell.” I simply wanted to write the type of book I enjoyed reading. I proceeded along with my novel, writing in my ignorant bliss until I finally typed those most cherished words, “The End.” Now what?

Well, I’ll tell you what. After a chance conversation with a published author, circumstances led me to join the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America (CTRWA), a group of published and well seasoned writers. Not only did these men and women offer up their extensive knowledge about the craft of writing, but they also set my feet upon the path to publication. Through the edits of my first novel, and despite the fact that I had wonderful mentors and lots of help, I continued to struggle with the difference between “show” and “tell.”  Then one day I confessed to my mentor that I didn’t understand the difference. She was so patient and kind (special thank you). She said, “Tell me in your own words what you would be feeling if you were in that situation.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. She said, “If you were afraid, would your heart be hammering? Would your hands shake?” Let me tell you, a light went on and it was an AH HA moment! That one simple statement followed by her question made me realize the difference.

Now when I’m writing, I ask myself how I would feel if I were in any given situation. I started noticing how my physical body reacted when, for example, I’m happy, when I’m relieved, when I’m overcome with emotion. Do my eyes sting when I cry? Do I sweat when I’m nervous?   Yes, I could simply write, “She was afraid.” That would keep the word count down, but wouldn’t it be more interesting for the reader if I wrote, “She crouched down behind the crate, her heart hammering against her chest. Holding the gun in her shaking hands and listening for any sound of motion, she closed her eyes and waited.” It certainly takes more words to get the point across, but it adds another level to your writing, an emotion that makes the reader feel as if they are living in the moment, along with the character. I think of it as adding spices to your recipe. It adds another level of flavor.





If you would like to find out more about Gerri, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook or on twitter.

To Kill a Monarch is available in e-book at Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon, and B&N.









To Kill a Monarch is my third published novel and what my publisher refers to as a “caper” story.  Here is a little blurb to tell you what it’s about.

Whispers in dark allies say Napoleon’s best assassin, The Falcon, has been sent to London to kill the Monarch. The problem – The Falcon’s identity is known only to the French Emperor. Sir Walter Tinsdale’s new partner, Philip Hamilton, arrives to discover their mission is to find the elusive bird of prey before he strikes. But their nemesis is like a phantom and always one step ahead of them. Enter the lovely Miss Charlotte Winston, the object of Sir Tinsdale’s affections, as well as those of Philip Hamilton. Unlikely alliances, deception, murder, and suicide will keep you turning the pages until the identity of The Falcon is finally revealed. With all the seduction and action of a James Bond movie, To Kill a Monarch is like 007 in 1811.


Would your readers like a small excerpt?


London, 1811

The dampness gripped him and sent a chill running down his spine. He pulled his collar up and drew his cloak tighter around him. His gaze darted to and fro, watching the crowds, the ships being unloaded, and the unsavory characters picking the pockets of the newly arrived passengers. His hand instinctively went to his money pouch, safely tucked away beneath his belt.

Loathing filled him as he scanned the docks. Filthy children begging, ragged men sleeping in the gutters as raw sewage ran past them, and the strumpets strutting about with their haughtily painted faces were a constant backdrop. He hated going to that part of town, but he had to meet his contact, Phillip Hamilton.

The fog was rolling in, and despite his heavy cloak, the chill tightened its grip around him. He paced as he waited on the dock beside the ship, The Isabella, when, finally, a man who fit Hamilton’s description appeared on deck. The stranger’s black cloak swirled around him. With a worn leather satchel in his hand, and leaning on an ebony walking stick, the dark-haired stranger descended the gangplank.

“Hamilton?” Tinsdale called, stepping to within an arm’s reach of the man.

The dark-haired man in the black cloak turned to face him. His deep brown eyes darted past Tinsdale and toward the sailors loading cargo onto wagons, and then shifted back to Tinsdale. His hair fell over his eyes and Tinsdale watched as he lifted a hand to toss the wayward locks out of the way.

Finally extending his hand, he said, “Tinsdale, I presume?”

“Yes, Sir Walter Tinsdale. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” he answered, accepting

Hamilton’s hand in greeting, a hand that was as cold as its owner’s countenance appeared to be.