—Show, Don't Tell—
Show, don’t tell.
It is an adage as old as writing has existed. When writing fiction, it is imperative to carry the storyline into the psyche of the reader to keep the reader involved and moving forward. You must find a way to paint a picture rather than telling the reader what the picture is.
The killer was silent as he snuck up behind Joan; two more steps and she would be within reach. He knew he couldn’t be stopped; he had come too far to not finish the job. The temperature in the warehouse was stifling, but it was as though he didn’t notice. Larry, watching from behind the barrels, knew he must not miss the shot.
—as written, this describes the scene; it tells us a man is sneaking up on Joan; it tells us the warehouse was very hot, and it tells us Larry was watching and he is apparently going to try to shoot the killer.
Revised: An example of showing
As Larry crouched behind the barrels, he saw the shadow of a man moving toward Joan and he had something in his hand. As the man stepped from behind the boxes, the glint of a knife blade flashed as it caught the light from the naked bulb high above. His face was contorted, eyes wide, the corners of his mouth curved upward and the scar on his cheek was like a jagged rift in a tent canvas; his blonde hair was saturated as though he’d just stepped out of a shower. The light from the bulb reflected off the sweat on his face, itself alight with gruesome anticipation. Larry breathed deeply and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his forearm as he aligned the sights, index finger hovering over the trigger, preparing for the only chance he would get to save Joan’s life.
Posted on Sat, January 27, 2018
by Dale Swanson