Writing Resources: Showing & Deep POV

“Showing vs. Telling” and “Deep Point of View” are craft topics that almost every writer will come across at some point. But what, exactly, do they mean, and how do you apply them to your writing? Here’s a roundup of some of the resources I found most helpful in understanding these terms and applying them to my work.


1. Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan.

This is an excellent book about writing. Don’t let the title fool you. It’s about much more than description. I wasn’t diligent about doing the exercises, but I learned the importance of concrete details. (Concrete details are the key to showing well.) This book set the stage for the next books. (Note: I read the original version, but there’s a revised edition that came out in 2014.)

2. Show or Tell? A Powerful Lesson on a Crucial Writing Skill by James Thayer.

As far as I can tell, this book is only available for the Kindle (you don’t need a Kindle though–you can download the Kindle app for your PC or mobile device). It’s only 43 pages long, but if you struggle with showing and telling, read this book and the next one. Then thank me later. 🙂

Thayer explains the differences between showing and telling very clearly, gives lots of examples, and has lots of hands-on exercises (with sample answers). I did every single exercise. After years of workshops, this book taught me to recognize telling and how to fix it. When I look at my old Showing vs. Telling workshops from the perspective of his book, those old workshops suddenly make sense. I can understand now what the instructors were doing, but more importantly, how they did it.

3. Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.

Another short book but well worth it.

Her book builds on the lessons I learned from Show or Tell? Like Thayer, she gives lots of examples in short, easy to understand chapters, with exercises and sample answers at the end of each. Here, too, I did every single assignment and learned a lot about writing a deeper POV. If you read nothing else, read Thayer’s book and this one.

4. Entangled editor Liz Pelletier’s blog post on Demystifying Deep POV in Five Minutes (or Less).

She focuses on Motivation Reaction Units (MRUs) and how to utilize them for deep POV. Here’s the link to her post, which I highly recommend reading:


5. Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham also has an excellent section on MRUs.

That’s it! Thanks to the above resources I finally understood how to recognize and fix the telling in my manuscripts, and how to write in a deeper POV. For those of you who also struggle with these, I hope you find these books and links as helpful as I did.

Best (and thanks for your patience with this long post!),