Welcome back to Freaky Friday’s with Michelle Roth. I’ll be your host. Michelle Roth. 😉 Today we’ll be talking about showing versus telling. This is one of the trickiest things to explain. Some blogs say to avoid adverbs. Some say that using more dialog helps. Some say that using stronger verbs helps. … so you get what I’m saying? Everyone has thoughts on how to avoid it, but really. What IS showing vs. telling. The easiest way to explain is to give you some examples.
Example One: Bob slowly walked down the lane to get the mail.
Example Two : Bob moved at a snail’s pace through the early morning fog, his feet shuffling against the concrete as he headed toward the mail box.
See what I did there? Bob is moving in both examples, but one of them was more interesting to read, right? In the second example, I don’t outright TELL you that Bob is walking slowly, but.. he’s moving through the early morning fog at a snail’s pace. His feet are shuffling against the pavement as he goes to fetch the mail.
Now you know that Bob’s going to get the mail, but .. maybe the second example makes you think of an older man in a maroon cardigan, beige checked pants and a cabbie hat that carries Werther’s Original in his pocket for his grandkids. Bob turns into a real person for a minute there when the reader begins to infer other things about him that you haven’t explained.
Example Three: Stella moaned with pleasure when Ian began to tease her nipples. She sighed his name.
Example Four: Her eyes fluttered closed as she lost herself in his words and the sensation of his work-roughened hands teasing her tender flesh. She let out a small whimper as he began to gently pinch and pull at the tight peaks. When she called his name, it came out as nothing more than a breathy sigh.
Example three gets the point across. Ian was playing with Stella’s boobies. She was enjoying that. Example FOUR, however, tells you more. Perhaps he was telling her something she needed to hear. Maybe she hadn’t been touched that way in a long time. Perhaps she was pleased because he knew exactly how to touch her even though this was their first encounter. Stella may not have been entirely expecting the contact at all, because she was somewhat incapable of speech. Maybe she was incapable of talking about it because it was so damn good.
Again, the reader gets to draw their own conclusions when you don’t dumb it down for them.
Example Five: Rick talked dirty to Tessa.
Example Six: “Fuck, Tessa. That’s it,” he said when she rocked her hips more frantically against his hand. “You have no idea how much I want to taste you, how much I want to bend you over this railing and slide my cock into your tight little pussy. Audience be damned. Is that what you want, Tessa?”
Do I really need to explain this one? Tessa is a lucky girl. I’m just saying. 😉
(BTW, examples four and six were from Men for Hire and Slow Burn if you wanted to go shopping)
To simplify why Showing VS. Telling is so very important, I’ll just say this. Readers want to get lost in a book for any number of reasons. By giving them glimpses into the character’s world instead of just telling them a series of thoughts and emotions they go through, it will not only make for a better book, but it will also make for a happier reader.
Okay, so now that you know what Showing VS. Telling IS.. how do you avoid it?
Don’t tell us what the character was doing.. Tell us what it looked like, or show them doing it. If all else fails, use dialog.
Don’t tell us how the character felt, describe their facial expressions, body language, etc.
Don’t tell us how the character did something (slowly, quickly), show us facial expressions, body language, and other indicators that make us realize they’re moving slowly, quickly, etc.
Be descriptive. Be specific. The more vivid you make it, the more likely the reader is to get emotionally involved in your story. The more entangled in your stories the readers are, the more likely they are to buy your books. You see where I’m headed with this, right? 😉
Til next week, my lovelies, I bid you adieu!