TELL VS. SHOW: USE IT—BUT DON’T ABUSE IT

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “Show don’t tell.” (Maybe not as much as my editorHIDING IN SOFA thinks about it, but that’s another blog.) And I’ve reached the conclusion that sometimes the adage is over-stressed. Sometimes telling is better than showing. There! I said it. (Was that a knock at the door?  *Turns out lights and hides behind sofa.*)

Does your reader really want to know the day-by-day, real-time movements of MC as MC moves from point A to point B? I think not! For example, A happens—OMG it’s shocking; what is MC going to do? Over the next two weeks MC worries and frets, chats with friends, takes long walks and finally arrives at B with a plan. That boring period between points A and B is told in two or three well-written sentences without losing pace by showing MC’s actions in detail (and employing padding to make those two weeks interesting). Save it for when MC arrives at point B, shoots his neighbor in the head, and then buries her in her own garden under the rose bushes (oops—spoiler). Plot and drama advance without unnecessary words or loss of rhythm.

Am I wrong? Lazy? Just making excuses? Seriously—tell me—what do you think?

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