Show and tell, the writing version. Those of you who took a six second trip to the gutter come on back, I'll wait. ;-)
One of the more well known "rules" of writing is Show, Don't Tell. We hear it everywhere (if you haven't heard it, you really ought to go investigate it). ilona_andrews
has written a good article over in fangs_fur_fey
with examples of showing and telling and her thoughts on it. Read the comment by patricemichelle
as well, it's good stuff too. The article is lengthy so get comfy.http://community.livejournal.com/fangs_fur_fey/374546.html?style=mine#cutid1
The best example I can think of for a book with too much telling in it is the first Amelia Peabody mystery, Crocodile on the Sandbank
by Elizabeth Peters. Several people on my flist really loved this series but I was so frustrated by the quantity of telling (there were pages of it) and the fact that I was kept too far away from the main character, Miss Peabody, to care about her or what was happening in the story. To me, too much telling distances the reader from the story and that is an epic fail, keeping the reader from getting pulled into the story allows the reader to put the book down and does not compel him/her to pick it up again.
Another thing about telling is if you find that your beta readers are saying your work feels flat or there is too much direction like, "He went to the door. He opened the door. He saw the newspaper lying on the welcome mat. He picked up the newspaper." it maybe because you are doing more telling than showing.
What do you think about Ilona's article?
Do you have any books that frustrated you with too much telling?
Do you have questions or thoughts about showing and telling? (Don't be afraid to ask, there are people of all skill levels here and we all have different strengths and weaknesses). Personally, I've got lots of telling going on in the first draft and hopefully I'll catch them all and fix them in the next draft. You know, make it seem a little more sophisticated than the elementary school level it is now. ;-)