Show don’t tell.
That advice is in every book, every lengthy article, every DIY writer’s post. But what the heck does it mean?
I wrote almost 2 entire novels before I fully understood the concept. My Ah-Ha moment came when my characters turned the corner, literally. They were walking down a city street with busking musicians, food vendors, lights, chaos, smells, and then they turned down a side street lined with office buildings.
In the first version I stated it. Something like, “… turned the corner onto a street obviously meant for businesses.” It looked lame. It felt lame. I stared at it, glared at it, crumpled it up and threw it across the room. Then I got up, rescued it from the cat’s clutches, smoothed it out and tried again.
The frustrating part was I could see it so clearly. A quieter street lined with perfectly manicured shrubs and trees, evenly spaced as if marching in lock step. And that’s when the difference between show and tell dawned on me.
What was your Ah-Ha moment in writing? What was it related to, setting, plot, character, dialog? Did it come after you’d written a lot or a little?