One of the most important things for new writers to learn, and almost the hardest to learn as well, is to show instead of tell. Your writing needs to show us what happens, not tell us what happens. For example, don’t describe the kind of person your character is or how your character feels, let the reader discover character traits and feelings through actions, thoughts, body language, and speech. So, if your character is annoyed, don’t tell us he’s annoyed, show us he’s annoyed by what he says or in his facial expression. The same thing with setting, don’t describe your setting, show us your setting by using the five senses. If it’s raining, you don’t say it’s raining. You say the downpour soaked my clothes. You don’t say it’s cold. You say, he shivered or he brushed the snow out his hair.
The way to tell if you’re showing, instead of telling, is if your reader has to figure out for himself what your reader is thinking, feeling, or doing. If you spell everything out for your readers, you’re telling. The point is that your writing needs to show us everything about your world. The reader doesn’t want to be told about your world, he wants to live it and feel it. Showing lets that happen.
Later this week I’ll have a little more to say about showing versus telling. In the meantime, tell me why you think showing versus telling is so important.