Could you write about the difference between showing and telling? I am constantly mixing them up. Thanks!
Telling is like giving readers a grocery list. They must memorize facts to absorb your story. For example:
She never stood out in a crowd, any crowd. She had bobbed hair the color of dishwater and expressionless brown eyes. Her clothes were neither in nor out of style. So when a blond-haired man who looked like a model asked to sit by her as she drank her morning coffee, she was amazed.
Showing means ditching passive voice along with evoking emotions, feelings, and memories, as well as incorporating action. For example:
Diedre settled on the coffee-shop sofa she occupied every morning at nine, when she logged in to her computer to show her supervisor he could reach her to solve the latest crisis. Teleworking suited her. It’s not as though anyone paid attention to her when she ventured to the office on Thursdays, anyway. The prospect of dying her dishwater-colored hair never appealed to her, so she could never hope to compete with ebony-haired Zoe or Cheshire, who kept her yellow locks tipped purple. An every-six-weeks bob suited Diedre. Sipping her skinny latte, she studied the brown faux leather shoes she’d picked up on discount and that blended perfectly with the tan jumper she’d scoffed up at a thrift store. What was wrong with melting into the wall? Walls are good. Everyone needs walls.
A male voice jarred into her musings. “Do you mind if I sit here?”
She jumped, barely saving her coffee from disaster.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
She almost told him to go away but stopped when she observed indigo eyes looking imploringly into hers. Tousled blonde hair topped a chiseled face. She noticed a pressed white shirt floating on a built frame. She gulped. “You didn’t. Scare me, that is.”
What differences do you spot between the examples?
Feel free to share your own example. If you cite a published novel, please fill us in so we can discover your great read too.
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