Re: Any tips for "Show, Don't Tell?"

After some other discussions in other threads, I think the most important tip for "Show, Don't Tell" is that it is simply a manipulation technique. And as with every manipulation technique, the first rule is: "Don't get caught".

The easy parts are: Your enemy is not some detective or someone trying to actively catch you doing it. Your enemy is the reader's disbelieve, which the reader is already doing some active job of trying to suspend it. It's some subconscious routine of the reader's mind that always looking for everyone's motivation and perspective to make sense of what is happening. Also getting caught does not put you in prison or causes the reader to stop, so getting caught every few chapters is not a big problem. But when getting caught too often, then the reader's immersion will wane, the writing will feel forced to them or otherwise a bit off or low quality, even if most cannot even exactly say what is off.

The hard part is that training to use the technique correctly is that quite hard. Training to use it more often can lead to you getting yourself to used to it that it no longer feels off. While looking for it in other people's work can make you a bit too sensitive to it. Both make it hard to determine how likely something you might be caught and thus what and in what context it is acceptable.

Re: Any tips for "Show, Don't Tell?"

@whoever I think you have a very good point there, and yes, looking for 'tell' in other people's work really helps in learning how to avoid the problem!

Note though that sometimes you might WANT to use tell, to explain the motivation of the MC, or simply because it fits the story. When you go for first-person present tense, and your main character is 'snarky', then throwing in a little 'Deadpool', tongue firmly in cheek, may be just what the doctor prescribed... Then again, that 'technique' should be used with care and probably as little as possible...