If you’re still puzzled by the concept of show vs. tell, you’re not alone. I think many authors tell too much because they want to make sure their readers “get it.” To that I say, “We get it!”
I recently finished a novel in which the author repeatedly explained why the characters were doing or feeling certain things when no explanation was necessary. As a result, I had a hard time getting through the book, and unfortunately I did not enjoy it.
Here are some examples, with some details changed:
The issue: I already know the character drank too much vodka, because the previous scene showed her drinking too much vodka.
The issue: I can infer that Ron noticed the gesture. If he didn’t notice it, why would he ask the narrator if she is okay?
The issue: If her cheeks are flushing, I can infer that she is embarrassed.
The issue: I know that a pen and notepad is there to jot something down.
In each of these examples, by telling me what was obvious, the author pulled me out of the story. This happened over and over, and instead of getting immersed in the fiction I found myself thinking, “Why does the author keep telling me this?”
You want your readers to feel engaged, so let them by trusting them to “get it.”
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