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"Show, Don't Tell" with Carol Dawson

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

4/25/2015 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

This class is at capacity and registration has been closed. There will be no walk-up tickets available on the day of the class.

$49 for members
(please log in for member pricing)

$109 for nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Note: Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, April 23. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check or money order for the walk-up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

"Show, don't tell!"

One of the most common commands found in creative writing advice, the above phrase is one that can mystify the savviest scribbler. Just what exactly does it mean? On a practical level, what does following it entail? What is the difference between Showing and Telling—where is the boundary line between the two concepts? Does the mandate imply that you must spin every action out in tedious detail? Is it possible to shorthand the action—and if so, when? What may be left out, what to include? How much back story are you permitted to offer the reader; how much room can your characters’ resumes take up on the page? And most especially, how do you carry out that phrase to make a vivid, informative scene?

This class will show—in actual physical demonstrations and exercises as well as discussions—how to implement the Show, Don’t Tell rule, and why it’s one of those rules you should only break if you’re a master of telepathy. We’ll take the mystery out of Showing, and the tackle the temptation to Tell. We will also set your imaginative gifts ticking strongly enough to carry out the most challenging of challenges. Once you leave the classroom, you should have enough tools in your toolbox to ‘show’ everything you need to in order to enliven your reader and spice up your narrative, from a romantic Regency ballroom romp to a high stakes poker game to a stealthy murder. Most of all, we’ll have fun and laughs doing it.Bring a pen and notebook to class. Laptops if you prefer. Be ready to inscribe ‘life’ straight into the manuscript!


About the instructor:

Carol Dawson is both a novelist and nonfiction author whose books include the novels The Waking Spell, Body of Knowledge, Meeting the Minotaur, and The Mother-in-Law Diaries, all published by Algonquin Books, Simon and Schuster, Viking-Penguin, and translated overseas into several languages. Her award-winning non-fiction book House of Plenty: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Luby's Cafeterias was published by the University of Texas Press. She has taught creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe, as well as in numerous workshops. In addition, her work has been published in magazines and journals, including Texas Monthly, Southern Living, The Oxford-American, Parenting Magazine, etc. Currently she is working on two historical novels, and researching her latest non-fiction book, Miles and Miles of Texas: The Story of the Texas Highway Department, 1917-2017, to be published in Fall of 2016 by Texas A&M University Press.


REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

: Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our Classes page.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit