We’ve all heard “Show, don’t tell.” Easier said than done. It’s natural for beginning writers to “tell” because it’s easier. Telling states facts and is necessary sometimes to engage the reader. When you want to simply inform, then telling works well. Showing gives details. A visual example might be: Dew glistened on the rose petals. What’s important is to evoke your senses.
Instead of telling readers something is about to happen, you could focus on a finer point, like a ticking clock. Or instead of saying the house is old, say its paint had faded and flaked. In my novel Sour Grapes, “Cait caught sight of a golden eagle in liquid movement across the blue sky.” And from Twisted Vines, “Working with Tasha was like watching a Bentley purr on the road; you knew if you put your foot down, there was going to be a lot of elegant power.”
What characters react to is filtered through their perception of what they see and feel and we, as writers, need to portray their emotions in a way that will arouse fear, anger, anxiety, or heart rendering feelings in their readers. Many writers have a natural gift for beautiful prose, but I have to work hard to express my feelings and, consequently, that of my characters. What helps me is to set the stage by playing a CD to put me in a certain mood. Want romance? Julio Iglesias’ romantic classics comes to mind. How about A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a dark, haunting scene? But my all time favorite is Harlem Nocturne for, well, just about anything.
Fiction is about creating an emotional link between author and reader. If readers are drawn into something that speaks to their deeper selves, then we have succeeded as writers. Good writers create fiction that makes the reader willing to believe what he/she is reading. To do this you need to create vivid images to immerse readers into your fictitious world. What’s playing right now as I write this blog? Harlem Nocturne, of course.