Showing vs. Telling

Most every writer who’s studied the craft knows that we’re supposed to show the reader what’s happening rather than tell. Instead of, “She introduced herself shyly,” we write “She introduced herself with her chin against her chest and one foot tucked behind the other. If her dress hadn’t clashed with the wallpaper, he wouldn’t have noticed her.” Or something like that.

It’s a challenge I battle constantly in my writing. There are times when I just want to get on with it. No pretty descriptions or creative analogies, just a short bridge to the next scene, which is going to be amazing.

In the critiques I’ve been getting, criters do a good job of helping me notice when I’m telling rather than showing. And the temptation is to just FIX them all, show, show, show and then think I have a much better manuscript. But it has occurred to me that telling has a place. Sometimes showing can distract or slow down the reader.

Q4U- So this one is for all my writer friends out there–when, if ever, is it better to TELL than to SHOW?

3 thoughts on “Showing vs. Telling

  1. cynthiaherron

    I think for the most part, this is probably true. An exception to that rule (for me, personally) is when writing “love scenes.” Since I write with the Christian market in mind, I prefer to use a little less description. One can still depict how the kiss made a character feel without “showing” every little detail. Many Christian authors do this superbly and have learned in this area, that less is definitely more.

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