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Showing v. Telling: Deconstructing the Situation & the Story

July 26, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event

    $25.00 Writers learn early on to “show, don’t tell,” but both are necessary. So, how much of each, and why?

More than any other genre, creative nonfiction requires that the writer answer for the reader rather quickly: why are you telling me this? Vivian Gornick’s theory of the situation and the story helps answer these crucial questions. 

Join award-winning essayist Brooke Champagne to discover these concepts that are prerequisites to composing great essays, and get step-by-step guidance for incorporating them into your own texts.

We’ll explore Gornick’s The Situation and the Story alongside interactive discussion and analysis of two essays from the Best American Essays anthology, seeing how these concepts play out in published work. By the webinar’s end, you’ll leave with practical tips and prompts for assessing both showing/telling and situation/story within your own work.

In this webinar, you will:

  • DISCOVER the differences between “situation” and “story” in creative nonfiction, and how to develop both in your own work
  • LEARN the “yellow highlighter test” for discerning the ratio of showing/telling, and the “purple highlighter test” for understanding the ratio of situation/story
  • PARTICIPATE  in analyzing a notable essay to discover both situation and story
  • TAKE AWAY exercises to enhance your own essays 

This webinar is ideal for:

  • Writers of creative nonfiction, in a multitude of forms and subgenres
  • Writers who want to practice analyzing/assessing their work as readers.
  • Teachers and coaches who seek new approaches for developing and/or revising the work of others
  • Writers with a stalled piece of nonfiction that could use a fresh perspective
  • Intermediate/Advanced writers

Closed captioning is available. ✔
All registrants receive the recording. ✔


BROOKE CHAMPAGNE is the author of Nola Face: Memoirs of a Truth-Telling Latina in the Big Easy, forthcoming in 2024 from the University of Georgia Press. Her writing appears widely in literary journals and has received awards including the inaugural William Bradley Prize for the Essay. She recently won the 2022 March Faxness National Championship Essay Tournament with her essay on Aimee Mann’s cover of the song “One.” Her essays have been selected as Notables in Best American Essays 2019, 2021, and 2022. She is at work on a memoir-in-profiles entitled Lives of the Aints, and an essay collection about family entitled Dem Wet Bones. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Questions? Please email


July 26, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm EDT
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Brooke Champagne
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