Illustration by Sofia Bonati
So, here we go again. I guess I just never say it enough. It's so easy to tell when you write, and so bloody hard to show. As a reminder, here is a wonderful write-up by Chuck Palahniuk about it, namely, about how to unpack your sneaky lazy telling into bold crisp showing, and it's hard work and you won't like me one bit for what you're about to read (and Chuck says the same thing at the very top of his lovely write-up, so it's okay, you can hate me too if you want).
Since reading theory is boring, let me slap you in the face with some examples so you can see what I'm talking about and start looking for these bastards in your own writing and kill the fuck out of them (this whole post, by the way, is as much for me as it is for you, because it's really me shouting at myself to be a better writer, and I figure you can benefit from my shouting too).
I'll drop some sentences here and unpack them below, and you go ahead and share whatever you like in comments if you want me to unpack some for you or if you have unpacked some on your own. It'll help us hone our craft because nobody likes to be told what to feel, and when you're TELLING your reader what to feel instead of SHOWING, that's precisely what you're doing.
TELLING: "The squirrel didn't like the hedgehog."
SHOWING: "The hedgehog poked his nose in the hole and didn't even have the time to say hello, the squirrel jumped at him and started punching his nose with its little fists, its eyes like two coals about to burn him down to cinders."
So I'm going totally off the wall here with animals, but how many times have you caught yourself telling us how this character felt about that character? Oh yeah. Too many too count. I know, I'm guilty of this. Bloody show it! Don't tell us, let us make our own conclusions. We will love you for it and read every one of your books.