Show, Don’t Tell

Is it an overused expression?

I’m working on a short story for a contest, and in describing the sounds of the location, I mentioned the “hypnotizing drone of cicadas”. One person thought this phrase was too telling and not enough showing. Problem is, when you have 750 words to work with, there’s really not a lot of room to enter into excessive detail over minor details.

I am reminded of how Jerry B. Jenkins, in one of the Left Behind books, simply described one computer technician as “oily”. Pressed for more detail, he told his editors the guy was not an integral part of the story and that no further detail was needed.

Showing more than has its place and can turn dull stories into brilliant ones, but when taken to extremes it can bog down a story.


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