Had someone said that to me two weeks ago, my answer would have been, “No such thing.” Now, I’m not so sure. Last week Carolyn Kaufman posted a article on the QueryTracker blog called But How Do You FEEL About That. I probably would have skimmed the post and otherwise ignored it, if not for one of my reviewers saying things like, “What did Jaimie feel when he saw her there…” and “Maybe some internal chatter to show us his initial reaction.” and “I know you ‘Show us’ through the dialogue…just expand upon [the emotions] a bit.”
In her post Kaufman talks about how her writing was often described as cinematic and she took pride in that. Until one reviewer explained something in a way that no one else had before. Explaining that, while her writing reads like a movie, books aren’t movies. The key distinction between the two (aside from the whole reading thing) is the ability of a book to get inside a character’s head. The reader wants to know what the character is thinking and feeling.
In my own stories, I’ve noticed that I describe almost entirely the action. I show what they’re doing and saying, and tell about their facial expressions and movements. But I don’t put in many thoughts and emotions. In part, I think that was due to just trying to get the scenes out of my head, thinking I could add the details later. Then, the time crunch of the group kicked in and I posted it before I got around to it. But really, a large part was actively trying not to “Tell” the story.
Do a google search on showing vs. telling and you’ll find a million articles explaining the evils of telling. Read agent blogs and hear about the auto reject button for telling. I didn’t want my book to be one of those form rejections. So I avoided telling like the plague. Perhaps that’s not the best option. All things in moderation, might be called for.