When is it necessary to “show” instead of “tell”? Many writer friends debate this concept, and I’ve found that the answer isn’t as simple as some might think.
As I blogged the other day, showing is where most of the magic occurs for the reader. Because he or she can’t see what the writer is imagining, it’s important for the writer to be as descriptive as possible, using as many senses as possible.
With that in mind, I believe there are some times when showing isn’t necessary. In fact, if writers were to show instead of tell with every single line, then books would be much, much longer. The stories would leave little up to the readers, and they would feel terribly melodramatic.
This is a tricky line to walk. If a writer stops showing in some places, what is to prevent him or her from telling the whole way through a novel, causing the reader to get bored and disengage? Which parts are worthy of being “shown,” as opposed to the sections that can be fine with a simple, telling sentence or two?
I’ve seen writers in critique groups go back and forth on this topic without coming to a unanimous agreement. Many authors rely on the very scientific method of just feeling it out. 🙂
Readers: how much “showing” do you like to get from your favorite authors?
Writers: where do you draw the line?