I did a workshop this past weekend at a writers conference on showing versus telling in fiction. I prepped for it and made a powerpoint and a handout and practiced what I was going to say and had hands-on writing exercises and everything. People who took the workshop said they got something out of it, but I can’t help feeling like I didn’t quite hit the nail on the head with this. Oh well. Here are some tips, stolen from my handout:
Verbs are your friends: For example, you could write “Hermione walked to the library.” Or, you could try,
Hermione snuck to the library.
Hermione trudged to the library.
Hermione marched to the library.
Sometimes using a strong verb can create a more powerful image than using an adverb. For example, you could write, “Ron wrote his name messily on the chalkboard.” Or, you could try,
Ron scrawled his name on the chalkboard. or Ron scribbled his name on the chalkboard.
Don’t forget the details, details, details! For example, look at this beautiful paragraph:
Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls. Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr. Olivander cried, “Oh, bravo!”
You can show character through dialogue. For example, if you know Draco is an elitist; Draco is arrogant; Draco is self-important, then you might, like J.K. Rowling, write a sentence like this:
“You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”
This isn’t magic or rocket science. It’s stronger, more vivid writing. You are trying to create a visceral connection between your reader and your work, not just an intellectual one. So go for the guts, not just the head.