How to be a Terrible Writer: On-The-Nose Writing

If you want to be terrible at writing, you’ll want to write “On-the-nose.”

Being “on-the-nose” means you write exactly what your characters are doing, thinking and/or feeling. For example…


He watched his girlfriend walk slowly and sadly down the hall, holding her books. She walked to a bench and sat down. Then she began to cry sadly.

She looks sad. He thought as she cried. Her books fell down to the ground loudly and her papers flew out of her hands and to the ground as she cried. He got up, then bend down, stopped halfway, then continued bending down. He picked up one piece of paper. He stood up, walked over to another piece of paper, bend down and picked it up. He did this because he wanted to help his girlfriend feel better.

When he had picked up every paper and book, he put it on the bench she was on. He felt sad.

I don’t want you to move away because your parents are breaking up. Do you have to leave?” He asked sadly. She lifted her head up to look at him, her face sad.

Yes, I do.” She said sadly.


This writing was “On-The-Nose.” It told you everything you needed to know and didn’t require you to feel anything. But if you wanna be one of those writers who want to make their readers feel, you’ll want to write “Off-The-Nose.”


He watched her trudge across the hall, hugging her books to her chest. She slumped onto a bench and wept. Her papers and books crashed to the floor like teardrops.

He got up, hesitated, then gently grabbed a paper. Then another. He bit his lip harder as he got closer to her. He placed the stack on her bench, nearly choking on the lump in his throat.

Is this goodbye?” He asked. She looked at him, her eyes more red than brown.

Yes.” She said.


Here, the character’s feelings are “shown”, A.K.A, told in a way that makes it feel like you’re in the book, experiencing what the characters are experiencing.

But that’s a lot of trouble to make readers feel things. Why not be lazy?

Thanks for reading my bad and good writing, taking my sarcasm and I’ll see you next week!

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