ACTUAL WRITING INFO AND ADVICE FOR A CHANGE! NO LINKS TO MY WORK AND VERY LITTLE WHINING!
I'm currently helping someone design a workshop, and I just read, once again, the silly “Show, Don’t Tell.” This advice has now exceeded the limits of my medication. This confuses so many writers because ALL storytelling is TELLING, isn't it? "Show" means DRAMATIZE, meaning "make a scene out of it with background, action, conflict, talking," and "Tell" means "narrate or summarize/encapsulate, OR briefly do what Dwight Swain (XOX) calls "sequel" with the character musing about what happened and what may need to be done next." OK?
DRAMATIZE, don't NARRATE, all of the SPINE scenes and the interesting action. Cool stuff mustn't happen offscreen. Put it in center focus. This is not a play, where you can't portray some locations, nor is it a film, where the producer won't pay for you to travel to Outer Gorotoland to film the scene on the waterfall. This is text! Write anything you can make me believe!
And dramatize what the characters are like instead of telling me about it--he's a cheapskate, so make him pick up a penny left on the counter by someone who wanted to help a person who's short a penny. (A shopkeeper at a bakery did this in FRONT of ME the other day--she looked down at her countertop as I was checking out and said, "Oh, look, a penny, so I'll take it," and snatched it up--so I will never go THERE again!) She's nice, so even though she has just been drenched by the neighbor's sprinklers as she cut across the lawn because she's already late, let her save the cat out of the tree for the children. Don't JUST tell me she's nice. You can foreshadow by having someone say, "That nice Jane?" But then you can twist it by later showing Jane being meeean and the lady either lying, kidding, or easily fooled/mistaken.
Also, SKIP the boring parts--don't tell me that "she got into the car, started it, turned the wheel, left the parking lot, drove down the street to the bar, parked in a terrible spot, walked onto the sidewalk, got into the bar, visored her hand to look around the disco, etc." I see this in endless published novels put out by the major NYC houses, and I wonder what was wrong with the editor. Just do a scene break from when Joe slaps down the ten-dollar bill and says, "Go find her," and "Leslie visored her hand against the flashing lights of the disco." Three octothorp(e)s, centered, indicate a scene break in manuscripts.
Oh, and when you ARE telling, use that strong and artful voice of yours. Make it fun to read, and readers will lap it up. Never let a critgroup, partner, or editor dumb down or dilute your voice and make you sound like everyone else.
That is all.