I can't even read a published novel without periodically exclaiming (usually silently): "Hey, that's a lot of telling instead of showing! How come the author got away with that? Who published this book?!?!"
Recently I came across an article by fantasy author Faith Hunter called "Show, Don't Tell -- Conveying Emotion." It's one of the most useful articles I have seen so far on the subject, especially given that I'm writing a fantasy novel at the moment!
Faith points out that not only do we need to "show, not tell," we need to avoid using worn-out phrases or crutches to do so. She gives examples of crutches, including:
- "She chewed her lips."
- "He shuffled his feet."
- "He sighed."
Faith then proceeds to give an example of a "Bad Scene with too much telling" and a "Better scene," after which she breaks down that "Better scene," explaining why it's better.
What I'm going to do here is quote a list that Faith provided in answer to one of the comments on the article. I will preface the list with the following quotes from Faith:
"Anything done to excess becomes a crutch."
"A good writer never uses just one device at a time, or one part of a scene for only one purpose. A good writer blends them to create a total that is much more than the sum of the parts."
And now, the list.
"Emotion can be demonstrated with:
- Physical stage direction
- Things happening in the same scene but which are not actually a part of the main action
- Inner monologue
- Dialogue at cross purposes" *
I encourage you to read the entire article HERE . And while you're at it, check out the whole Magical Words site!