Today I want to touch on the familiar topic of "showing vs. telling". I say familiar because so often in critiques this is the first topic to be addressed for new writers. Are you showing the action or just telling us about it and what's the difference? I could write a whole article on this, but instread, I'm going to give you a brief overview of how you can examine your work and see the difference.
When you are "telling", the writing is plain and straightforward, yet it often has difficulty involving the reader. An example of telling would be: Kathy was sad. This sentence tells what judgement needs to be made about Kathy, yet doesn't provide evidence to support that judgement. For example, how do we know that Kathy is sad? How is she behaving? What does she look like? Writing which "shows" generally incorporates vivid descriptive detail in order to help that reader evaluate the evidence to make the appropriate judgement. For example: Kathy cried all morning, while wringing her hands together. She sat still on the couch, unable to talk to me.
The following four items are things to avoid when you want to show and not tell:
1. Avoid -ly adverbs after said. ie: "He said happily." That's telling but not showing how he was happy.
2. Avoid forms of the verb "to be"- am, is, are, was, was being, will have been, could have been, et al.
3. Avoid starting with As or -ing.
4. Don't just "look" and "feel". They are not powerful and don't show much.
Remember, there are exceptions to every rule. My personal opinion is, a little of something flavors the recipie but a lot makes it unedible. The goal is to achieve good writing that shows your reader a picture of the action and moves the plot forward.
Todays Quote: "A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears." --- Gertrude Stein