Firstly, writing “rules” need to be rebranded as “advice.” advice you can choose to accept or ignore. Second, instead of “showing is good, telling is bad” it would be more useful for authors to know when to show and when to tell.

A thread: 🧵
Let's define showing and telling first.

In very simple terms, showing allows readers to experience the story along with your characters rather than observing them. Telling summarizes and instead of allowing the reader to form their own decisions.
Showing gets your reader involved in the story and evokes emotion. Telling creates distance between the reader from the events and characters in the story. Both are excellent ways to tell a story! But they must be used with intention!
“Show, don’t tell” is really about when and how you use descriptive language.

Telling language stands out in ways that will make it easy to spot so that you know when you’re using it unintentionally.
Here are a few ways to spot “telling” in your writing:

1. You give your readers conclusions instead of clues.

Often this is a sign that you don’t trust that your writing will provide the evidence they need to come to the conclusion themselves.
You use vague, abstract language.

2. If you can’t visualize what’s happening in the sentence—if it doesn’t create a picture in your mind—you’re probably telling.
3. You sum up what happened.

This typically happens at the beginning of a scene or at the end. Quite often, in an effort to get to the point, or “the good stuff.” Or maybe you just want to wrap it up neat and tidy with a bow. This is a sure sign that you’re telling.
4. You use too much backstory.

Important scenes should be shown to your readers in real time. Past perfect tense is usually a good sign post for this particular mistake, ie. had watched.
5. You use too many adjectives.

Wherever you see an adjective in your writing, look at the noun or pronoun that it modifies and decide if you’re using them creatively and to make an impact. If not, you're telling.
6. Your verb usage is weak.

The above mentioned adjectives are usually combined with linking verbs—verbs that connect an a a subject with an adjective or a noun, ie. was/were, is/are, felt, appeared, seemed. Replace these with more active verbs and you should eliminate telling.
7. You use too many filter words.

Saw, smell, heard, felt, watched, noticed—these are all filter verbs that tell what a character is perceiving or thinking.
8. You tell your reader what your character is feeling.

When you name an emotion, you’re telling. This is actually the easiest one to spot and fix. Instead of naming emotions, use actions, thoughts, reactions, and body language to show what your character is feeling.
These are all great ways to spot telling in your writing, but IMO, the easiest way to know when you’re telling? It’s boring. This definitely subjective. People prefer different styles of storytelling. Fables and allegories often tell, but they do it with intention.
Having that said, there are definitely times that you SHOULD tell.

1. If you’ve written an intensely dramatic scene.

If emotions are high and intense, showing too much will seem melodramatic. This is the perfect time to gradually ease the tension with a bit of telling.
2. When you’re revisiting a static setting.

If your characters have been to a location before, it’s fine to minimize the descriptive language you use to ground your character in the setting.
3. When your character is moving from one location to another.

If the trip between the coffee shop and where your character works isn’t important, the reader doesn’t need a turn-by-turn navigation from point A to point B.
4. When you need to convey a passage of time, a change of location, or swap point-of-view.

A sentence or two to transition the reader to the next scene, location, or point of view will do. Give them just enough to anchor the reader in the scene and dive into the important stuff
5. When the details won’t advance the plot.

We don’t need to watch your character work through a bit of complicated code while waiting for important information from his colleague. If there isn’t something in that code that will advance the plot, leave it out.
6. When you need to write an action or fight scene.

The pace of an action or fight scene should be fast and tightly written. Adding too many details can slow it down. Show the important details, and tell what isn’t.
7. When you want to minimize the importance of a particular detail.

This shows a reader that this detail is not something they need to remember. Minimizing that importance of an important detail can also be a foreshadowing trick.
8. When it’s part of your character’s personality.

Your character might be the sort who doesn’t pay attention to detail. Some people are just more matter-of-fact. Telling important details can make it obvious that this is how they see the world.
All of this to say, “Show, don't tell” is not an absolute. Its arguably the worst writing advice because the person giving it doesn't often explain why they regurgitated this “rule” nor do they tell them how to fix it.

Remember, there are no writing rules. It's just advise 😜

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