You hear it all the time as an author. They say, “show, don’t tell”. The problem with that advice is that it is just too simplistic. You can’t always show. Everyone who has written anything knows it. Prose becomes too unweildy and awkward if everything you do is “showing”. A recent example of a book that I read which, I felt, suffered from bout after bout of over showing was The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko.
By about halfway through this story, I’ll be honest, I was burned out by the author trying to find new ways of “showing” the lead character’s fear. Even when the showing was good, the constant showing still had ground me down. As an author myself I would never do as much showing as Dyachenko did. But, even though this is my opinion, there are people out there that love this sort of prose and over showing.
That makes it even more difficult as an author to determine how to balance the showing and telling in a story. I’m still struggling with it. All I know is that I have to pick my spots. Every time I edit, I swap a show for a tell here and a tell for a show there.
Showing takes words. It takes a lot more words than telling. Telling can make prose move fast and has its places. But short shows can have the same effect. I
I’m trying to be more practical with my showing. I’m not a flowery writer. So I don’t try to write puffed up descriptions of what is goin on. I try to make my shows short. They almost seem like tells at times. I’m trying to not speak outside my voice and so far, I have gotten no complaints from any of the reviewers that I did not “show” enough. The problem is, what will publishers think? Will they agree?
Sad thing is, I won’t know for a while. Here’s hoping that my trying to be practical with my shows versus tells is what publishers are looking for.