Monday, December 12, 2011

Show, Don't Tell!

One thing I frequently hear regarding the writing of fiction is the mantra "Show, don't tell." Readers are not dumb and can generally figure out things on their own without the author going into excessive details. Adjectives and adverbs should be used sparingly (this is something I have personally tried to improve in my own writing), and usage of relevant, appropriate imagery should be encouraged.

Here are some examples:

1. TELLING: The walls were brownish-gold.
SHOWING: The walls were the color of honey.

2. TELLING: Audrey walked quickly across the room.
SHOWING: Audrey strode across the room.

3. TELLING: The moon was full and very bright; unlike the dark lawn below.
SHOWING: Moonlight cast shadows across the lawn that reached toward the house like bony fingers.

4. TELLING: Hank was a workacholic.
SHOWING: When Hank's wife forced him to go on vacation, beach combers looked at each other and shrugged when they saw the pasty-white accountant sitting in a lounge chair with a computer on his lap and a cell phone in his hand, discussing payroll and audits and a dozen other things he should have left at home with the dog.

What examples of showing versus telling do YOU have?

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