Lots of information, but it keeps the reader at a distance. It doesn’t make them feel like they are INSIDE, riding the waves of emotion, seeing the differences between what’s real and what’s not.
SHOWING is the equivalent of making the reader feel like they are the one inside, dodging the bullets with Keanu.
The same information is presented, but in a way that it’s tangible and emotional to the reader.
The picture is a little extreme, but it showcases the idea. Here’s a written example:
She got on the plane to fly from Virginia to Los Angeles. Kathy was scared during the take off. She was also worried about what Jim would say when she showed up at his door after their fight about his infidelity.
Ok you know something interesting is going on, but it’s masked by the way it’s written. Let’s try again.
“This is the flight to L.A., right?” Kathy asked the man in front of her.
He slung his backpack onto his shoulder and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Just checking,” she said and dug through her bag to find the ticket for her seat assignment. “I never fly.”
Then man nodded in a polite but uninterested way and shuffled further ahead. Kathy boarded the plane, her shirt still sticking to her from the stress of the security line. She found her seat, got situated and picked at a hangnail while the stewardess went over the safely information.
The engine roared to life and and Kathy scrunched her eyes shut and pushed her head into the safety of the headrest. Her stomach lurched along with the plane’s ascent, a single thought overriding all others: What would Jim think when she showed up at his door? In the eight months they’d been wading through the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship, she never thought he would cheat.
See the difference? The second example is much more compelling because you feel like you’re going through it with Kathy. Her stress is tangible.
- Naming an emotion– When you tell the reader that your character is angry, the emotion is immediately limited to whatever your reader thinks of when they are angry. Maybe what you’re trying to convey is a little bit of anger, a little bit of frustration, and a dash of shame. Well, you’re never going to get all that out of saying “He was angry.” You need to express it through words, through the character’s body language, through their expressions, through what they’re not saying.
- Passive Voice- The subject of the sentence is being acted upon instead of doing the action.
- Weak Verbs Avoid weak verbs. You can do a search and find in your manuscript to see if you have too many in your manuscript. Here are a few examples:
- Adverbs – Adverbs cheapen your writing and can be omitted in most instances for a stronger phrase. Adverbs modify, telling where, why, or under what conditions something happens or happened. They often end in -ly, so you can do a search and find in your manuscript as a starting ground to identify them.