Show or Tell


"Hey sexy!" His moronic shout caused his friends to look over.

I stormed over to him, "What the fuck did you do to Sarah you asshole!"

He walked over to me, "Ahh, sexy, it was just some fun. A guy's gotta get some laughs yah know. She ain't half as good as you."

I walked out as he shrugged, the fuckhead didn't deserve to see me cry."

A slightly more 'mature' setting gives us an example with a little more 'history' between the girls and a slightly harder focus on the friendship. From PERDITA:

She hates both of us now. After forty years of friendship this experience was new; I never expected to meet Casanova at my age.

Lily knew I wanted him yet she couldn't resist his sexual manipulation and promise. He studied us, I learned too late. Not going out of our circle to learn more about a man was unlike me. I'm angrier at myself than at him.

He caught her through me, dispassionately using my love to seduce my best friend. More cruelly, he used her and tossed her aside like ordinary waste, laughing about it to my face. I could only weep as he shrugged inhumanly and walked away as if from a hit-and-run; only I wasn't dead and managed to walk away myself.

But for Lily, my friend with a heart as fragile as moth wings, I must forego my now petty injury to bring her back to herself and to me, to love and life and the possibilities that remain for the mature ladies of our world.

Why should we "show" not "tell"? Why "illustrate" a bald statement? WILDSWEETONE sums it up:

"When I read something that sounds flat or excludes me as a reader, I know it has more 'tell' than 'show'."

So there we are. The how and the why, but take heed, don't go overboard with the 'flowery language' but don't give lists. Don't concentrate exclusively on synonyms but do avoid repetition. Above all try to find where, when and how much to "Show Don't Tell".

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