If you’re not familiar with the “show vs. tell” rule, the gist of it is that you want to show your readers events or feelings instead of telling them.
I frequently see this rule broken in dialogue by authors who choose overly descriptive verbs that force-feed us the character’s sentiment. When I encounter too much of this I find myself pulled out of the story–and kind of irritated because I feel the author is treating me like a child instead of allowing me to use my brain.
For example, here are some sentences that tell instead of show:
I think sentences like the above happen because some authors believe they should use any word other than “said” in their dialogue, when in reality “said” is exactly what they should be using, if anything at all.
To improve your writing, get rid of (most of) the substitutions for “said” and sprinkle in some beats. Beats are physical movements that show us what the characters are doing as they speak.
Do you see the difference? The first sentences tell us, while the second ones show us. Readers will enjoy your story more if they can visualize what is happening, so work on allowing that to happen! Don’t go overboard with beats, though. As with most things, moderation is best.
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