I’m discovering that this whole show and tell thing is a fine balancing act… like walking a high wire. With every step you take, you chance plummeting to the ground below. Your left foot is propelled with the showing of things–elements and tidbits that give a life to your story. Your right foot moves with the telling–actions and things that happen within your character or story.
You’re about to take that first step–the typing of your sentence–but before you can actually take the step, you need to consider what foot to start off with. What are you looking to say with that first sentence. From there, you need to direct, describe, give some vibration to the rope you’re walking for the suspense of it all.
There’s only so much you can do with just your left foot. You’ll become so verbose in the grand scheme of the story, you’ll become unbalanced and fall. The same goes for the right. Micromanagement of everything gets tedious. Before you know it, you’re tangled in too much action, and you’ll fall.
There are moments where shuffling with one foot more than the other moves you forward, but you can only go so far without using the other foot to take a step.
I think I get it now. Stop and describe something, give it life… Carefully slide the left foot forward on the rope. But then something needs to happen or the characters grow stagnate. So I write something a little telling… Give a little action or direction. Move that right foot forward.
There are times when that rope wobbles violently. There are times when it is all smooth sailing… Such is the process of Show and Tell.
A very helpful link for showing vs telling: