I hate writing action scenes. I’m abysmal at it. I write and re-write my action scenes, and even when I’m done I’m not quite sure I got them right. I’d rather just say “and then they had an epic fight” instead of describing the action, blow by blow.

I skim over the action scenes so I don’t have to explain them. Explaining is hard!

But it’s not just the action scenes. I have a tendency to want to summarize all of important scenes so I don’t have to delve into the detail.

I fight with myself constantly to be sure I’m showing, not telling. It’s poor, lazy writing when writers tell instead of show. I think it shows more about the character of the writer, not the character in the story – the amount of telling instead of showing in a novel.

Telling is heavy handed. It forces your readers to think what you want them to think without any art.

Showing allows your readers to think for themselves, and apply their own emotions and interpretations.

But, I’m telling you why showing is better than telling. Allow me to give you an example to “show” what I mean about showing vs. telling.

Telling: Jasmine was really sad and frustrated.
Showing: Hot tears coursed down Jasmine’s cheeks and she slammed her fists down on the table.

I also like to use dialog to show rather than tell. It’s easier than showing by describing.

Telling: Emma was skeptical of her friend’s claim.
Showing: Emma frowned. “You really expect me to believe that?”

Which do you find more engaging? More interesting? Better writing? Do you like it when the writer tells you what to think, or do you like drawing your own conclusions?

I know which I prefer, which is why I fight with myself so hard to be the writer I like to read.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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