A popular acronym used by writers/critiquers is R.U.E.

Resist the Urge to Explain.

Example: Krista balled her fists and punched a whole the size of a watermelon in the wall. She was officially ticked off.

Well duh. We can see that she’s ticked off by the large whole in the wall. No need to explain her actions. Let them speak for themselves. It’s a micro-version of the “show don’t tell” and relates specifically to “explaining” something that a normal reader should already have figured out. We do this “just in case” the reader doesn’t get it.

But… well… we’re underestimating the reader.

In this theme, I share with you a few explanations that probably weren’t needed. (I’ve seen and heard these many places… but they’re still funny and reinforce the idea: PEOPLE AREN’T THAT STUPID.)

  • “Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish.” — On a bottle of shampoo for dogs. Duly Noted. Thanks!
  • “For external use only!” — On a curling iron. Darn! My tongue seriously is way to straight!
  • “Do not use while sleeping.” — On a hair dryer. I’ve told hubby a billion times not to dry my hair for me while I sleep. See… now I have proof!
  • “Do not place this product into any electronic equipment.” — On the case of a chocolate CD in a gift basket. So that’s why my CD player broke!
  • “Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.” — On a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. *gulp*
  • “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” — On an electric rotary tool. Ouch!
  • “Do not drive with sunshield in place.” — On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard. I wondered why it was so dang hard to see…
  • “Do not eat toner.” — On a toner cartridge for a laser printer. Pay no attention to the black powder dripping from my mouth…
  • “Not intended for highway use.” — On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow. Now that would be a fun ride. Kinda like the flintstones… but Krista in the wheelbarrow… Scott running on I-65 pushing me along… WOOHOO!
  • “May irritate eyes.” — On a can of self-defense pepper spray. I sure hope it does! If not, I totally want a refund!
  • “Caution: Shoots rubber bands.” — On a product called “Rubber Band Shooter.” Really?? I thought it shot bullets. Go figure!
  • “Do not use orally.” — On a toilet bowl cleaning brush. again… *gulp*
  • “Do not use for drying pets.” — In the manual for a microwave oven. Sorry, Fido…
  • “Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you.” — On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror. For the directionally challenged I guess??
  • “Warning: Do not climb inside this bag and zip it up. Doing so will cause injury and death.” — A label inside a protective bag (for fragile objects), which measures 15cm by 15cm by 12cm. I would say I wished I was small enough to fit inside the bag… but 15 cm is tiny.
  • “Do not use as ear plugs.” — On a package of silly putty. What’d you say??
  • “Please store in the cold section of the refrigerator.” — On a bag of fresh grapes in Australia. As opposed to the heated section I presume…
  • “Fragile. Do not drop.” — Posted on a Boeing 757. But this plane is so heavy….!
  • “For indoor or outdoor use only.” — On a string of Christmas lights. I see this almost every year and wrinkle my nose. Really? I SO wanted to use them on my spaceship in outer space.
  • “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.” — On a child sized Superman costume. Poor kids… they had such hopes!
  • “Warning: do not use if you have prostate problems.” — On a box of Midol PMS relief tablets. *raises eyebrows*
  • “Do not attempt to stop the blade with your hand.” — In the manual for a Swedish chainsaw. OUCH!
  • “Do not dangle the mouse by its cable or throw the mouse at co-workers.” — From a manual for an SGI computer. I was so going to do that too…. My co-workers will be thrilled that I found this out!
  • “Warning: May cause drowsiness.” — On a bottle of Nytol, a brand of sleeping pills. Is that, um, not the point?
  • “Do not put in mouth.” — On a box of bottle rockets. Okay, now I have a few cousins that need to read this one. Just sayin’
  • “Not dishwasher safe.” — On a remote control for a TV. Um, I found mine in the freezer one time. Not too far off.
  • “Do not put lit candles on phone.” — On the instructions for a cordless phone. Happy birthday to.. POOF
  • “Warning! This is not underwear! Do not attempt to put in pants.” — On the packaging for a wristwatch. Some of them are funny. This one is just… weird.


Okay, now that I’ve done all my bold comments, I’m realizing that those are all just RUE too. I’m explaining the joke by making one of my own! GEEZ!

Anyone have any examples of funny RUE’s they’ve seen? Or… examples of ones you’ve had to fix in your manuscript?



  1. Too great!!
    I just thought of this the other day. Happily typing my wip and then I realized I was using an action tag and then writing what the character felt. Uh-uh. Had to delete some stuff. 🙂

  2. LOL!!! Thanks for some great laughs this morning! You're RUE's were the best! See, sometimes RUE's are a good thing! 🙂

  3. These are hilarious!! Had me rolling! What a great way to start a Monday. Thanks, Krista!

  4. My favorite has always been the "Do not use this device in a bathtub" for a hair dryer. Cuz I've totally tried to dry my hair WHILE washing it before 🙂

    Love this post 🙂

  5. These were hilarious…happy birthday to…POOF? LOLOL

  6. I'm in the middle of editing a novel and kick myself all the time for these little tell-tale comments. So true! Great post!

  7. Those were great examples. My son just pointed one out the other day, but I can't think of what it was. If I do, I'll come back and share.

  8. I'm totally guilty of this!!!!!! I hate that. You;re so funny I can't wait to read your work, even with the RUE. lol

  9. Thanks for the smile today!

    Unfortunately, I'm not only guilty of occasionally writing these, in blonde moments I actually say them. As to actual examples, I refuse to answer on the grounds that it might – er, will – incriminate me.

  10. I'm still laughing! Thoroughly enjoyed the nonsensical RUE's. Thanks for the post, Krista! 🙂

  11. Those were hilarious, Krista!!! Thanks for the great laugh.

  12. Oh Krista –

    I'm laughing my head off here!
    Thanks for the reminder. My latest manuscript will need plenty of editing. I'll add this to the list.

    Susan 🙂

  13. LOL! This is great advice for those who sometimes struggle with show vs. tell. (Like me.)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for the birthday wishes!

  14. These RUE's are the best. It does relay a lot about my writing. Showing instead of telling is one of my weaker areas.

    Dually noted, thank you!

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