The term, ‘show, don’t tell,’ is a vital part of the writers armoury and creates engagement with the reader that otherwise would not exist.
The crux of it is that you are describing feelings, thoughts or events, and you are not just telling the reader.
By ‘showing’ there are a couple of factors that come into play.
The first that there is more detail in your writing and the second that the sentences engage with the reader on a human level. This, human level, means that you draw them into your story by articulating certain words on the page and thus painting a picture that he or she can see in their mind.
Below is an example with the first sentence that tells and doesn’t show, and the second sentence that, shows and doesn’t tell.
- The cat sat on a wall next to a strange garden and stared into the air.
- A metallic whiff caught the cats nose, but it did not cast an eye over the array of mechanical contraptions, broken and rusting that were sprawled on the lawn. Instead, the cat gazed into the air and enjoyed the breeze.
It is important to note you should not include detail that isn’t required. The detail in the second sentence will relate to how the story unfolds around a cat that has no curiosity or perhaps no curiosity in this instance for a specific reason. Hence the detail is to the point and good to include.