I did a blog about this subject, but felt it was so important that I decided to put it in easy reach. One of the easiest things to do is tell a story.
But how do you tell a story? Are you animated? Do you incorporate the senses? Do you involve your readers? If this is true then you are showing a story.
Dan and Sue were in the middle of a heated argument after the party.
"How could you do this?" Dan said
"Because I can," Sue said.
"But why?" Dan asked.
"You just don't love me anymore," Sue cried.
"Oh, so you're a mind reader now. You don't know how I feel,"Dan replied angrily.
"I can't read your mind, but I know, " Sue retorted.
"I love you," Dan said.
"I love you too," Sue said.
"Do you really?" He asked.
1. Sentence/dialogue tags- while the words "Said, asked" and a huge host of other words are mostly overlooked while reading, they can be overdone. In reading the above do the tags irritate you? Do you feel like a bystander watching the action? Do you have any idea of what's going on or where they are. This is telling.
2. Incorporate feelings and action into the scene to delete the dialogue tags.
3. Use the senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell to round out the scene.
4. Use details.
5. Identify your POV (Point of View)
Dan and Sue were driving home from embassy party. He was fuming because of her flirting with that snake, Brad in the outer courtyard. He clenched the steering wheel and glanced over at his wife sitting next to him. "How could you do this?"
"Because I can." Sue spoke through clenched teeth.
He squinted at the approaching car's headlights on Highway 45. "But why?"
Sue hit his arm with her clutch purse. "You just don't love me anymore.".
Dan shook his head in disgust. "Oh, so you're a mind reader now. You don't know how I feel."
"I can't read your mind, but I know. "
Enough was enough, Dan thought as the sound of a horn behind him urged his foot down on the gas pedal. "I love you."
"I love you too."
How could he respond to that? He took a deep breath inhaling the new car smell of his 5 series BMW. He relaxed his grip on the steering wheel and looked at his wife of ten years and held his breath. "Do you really?"
Example #2 Telling
It's a jungle out there and hot. It was hard walking. Casey thought it stank. The monkeys in the trees screeched.
Example #2 Showing
The trees enclosed around them forming impenetrable walls of green. The noon sun baked exposed skin first pink, and then red. The humidity weighed them down sapping their strength making each step feel as if they were wearing shoes made of concrete instead of sneakers. The smells of dead things filled their nostrils and Casey wanted to shove a handkerchief up his nose. Whoever thought of a jungle as silent, he wondered as the monkeys overhead chastised them for invading their space.
Are you there? Are you feeling what these people are feeling? Can you relate? Can you hear it? Can you see it? Can you smell it? This is showing.
Remember when in one of the Star Wars movies C3PO was telling the story of the trio's battle against the Death Star to those furry creatures? He waved his arms, and added sound effects.Remember the reactions of those who were listening? When you verbally tell a story you wave your arms and use funny voices. You do not read in monotone. The same goes for writing. Except instead of waving your arms and making funny voices you use words.
The new buzz is character driven novels. All this means is the reader can relate to the story. What is happening to the characters? Their experiences, their lives, their situation, and their outcome. It carries the reader along on the journey. Every step, trip, stumble, and fall which is experienced by the character is also experienced by the reader. How many times have you seen a child fall and thought, "That's gotta hurt." Make your reader feel like this. This is showing versus telling.