Show Don't Tell with Seth Harwood

We’ve all heard this dictum time and time again. Seth Harwood is here to show you what it really means to do this on the page in this four-week online writing workshop.

Your Instructor: Seth Harwood, author of THE MALTESE JORDANS and EVERYONE PAYS

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: May 28, 2019 - June 25, 2019

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $325

Class Description

Show, don’t tell.

You know the advice. You’ve heard it more times than you can count. But what does it really mean? And why is showing necessarily better? Is it possible to show too much? What’s the right balance?

Seth Harwood is here to unpack the most-heard (and possibly most misunderstood) rule of writing through exercises and examples to give you a sense of how showing establishes a strong connection between your story and your readers.

Start with the creation of visual scenes: think about setting, description, and characters’ bodies in space to ground your reader. What does he or she need to know to enter your story’s world?

Description doesn’t have to be boring, drawn-out, or a dirty word. In fact, it can be fun to write, gripping, and illuminating, even capable of moving the plot forward.

Sometimes writers have a fear of showing—they don’t want to bore readers—but this fear actually has killed far more good writing than it has led readers to enjoy.

Know what? When your reader can see your story, he or she won’t want to drop the book or stop seeing what your characters do next!

In this course students will develop a process that enables them to wade into the unknown of new work and create scenes that captivate, move, and thrill readers.

Seth earned an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has gone on to publish ten books, including the bestsellers Jack Wakes Up, In Broad Daylight, and Everyone Pays. His most recent work is The Maltese Jordans, the tale of the world’s rarest pair of kicks. He also teaches creative writing at Stanford Continuing Studies and Harvard Extension School.

What This Class Covers

Week One: Setting / Creating the Stage

Where does your scene take place? Learn how to open with a quick series of the story’s “given” information to clue in readers even while you get the tension and action rolling.

Week Two: Slowing it down

A key tenet of “show don’t tell” involves taking time to enjoy what’s on the page. Here we’ll learn to work from positives, what we want, instead of being guided by the fear of boring readers.

Week Three: Verbs                 

How can you identify when your writing is static (too slow) and dynamic (showing)? Identifying three key types of verbs will give you a new tool to evaluate what you’re bringing to the page.

Week Four: Dialogue with Bodies!

Good action scenes often have quick dialogue. Here we’ll work to blend dialogue and action together so that characters are seen and not just heard. Looking at the balance here will give you another strong tool for evaluating whether you’re showing or not.

* Each week will include writing assignments, on which you'll get feedback from both Seth and your peers. 

Goals Of This Class

  • Learn to write description with active verbs and movement that lives on the page.
  • Distinguish between active verbs, linking verbs, and passive voice.
  • Develop dialogue that helps readers see your characters, so you never suffer from “talking heads syndrome” again.
  • Visualize your characters in your mind’s eye as you write, to help readers do the same as they read.
  • Slow down and enjoy your creative process.
  • Learn to write in scenes that operate like short movies in your reader’s mind.
  • Avoid interior monologue and other “thought writing” that comes across as concept and abstraction—telling.
  • Pick up new tools for revision that take you beyond just reading and re-reading your work.
  • Develop objective criteria for what works on the page and makes for good writing.
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