Show, don’t tell is a pretty common expression when it come to the world of writing. Good “advice”. Too bad not all [new] writers embrace it.
Sally looked down the trail and then started walking along it. She was tired of walking. She saw a stream. She got onto her knees and dipped her hands in the cool water. She cupped some water and sipped thirstily. When she had her fill, she stood up and looked northward. She then walked along the trail toward the hills.
A lot of “she” did something, but nothing terribly descriptive or detailed is presented. It’s pretty flat and wouldn’t entice a reader to continue reading, unless said reader was using the book as bedtime reading (to prompt a few quick zzzzzs).
Not that you should add copious amounts of details—that could become equally annoying and lend itself to a different degree of dullness.
Pretty, young Sally looked anxiously down the winding, dusty trail that went for as far as the eye could see, and then started walking quickly along its narrow, pebble-filled path. She was tired of walking and having to keep a watchful eye. She saw a curving, burbling stream about twenty yards ahead and left the trail to walk along the prickly plants and high weeds and wizened shrubs. She got onto her jean-covered knees and dipped her dry, scratched hands in the cool rippling water. She cupped some refreshing-looking water and sipped thirstily. When she had her fill, and felt better, she stood up and looked northward toward the small, tree-lined hills. She then walked returned to the welcome, winding trail and headed toward the beckoning hills.
More description and details provide more visuals—but be mindful of how much is added and whether it’s truly useful. Does it enhance the story/plot/action? Does it create clear pictures, deliver snapshots?
Sally’s pretty face creased with worry when she reached an endless, winding trail. May as well go for it, she decided. Quickly yet cautiously, she picked her way along the pebble-filled path. Twenty yards ahead burbled a serpentine stream lined with prickly plants, tall weeds and wizened shrubs. Dropping to her knees, her scratched hands cupped cool water. She drank deeply and when her thirst finally eased, she stood. Brushing dust and grit from her worn, dirty jeans, she returned to the trail, determined to head northward—to the beckoning tree-dense hills in the not-too-far distance.
Somewhat better . . .yes? Writing a book with “she did”, “he did”, “it did” as the frequent action is rather like characters having “said” something 10-15 times on one page. Uneventful. Static. Uninspiring.
Editing/proofing isn’t fun for most people (I get that), but it is a necessity. Take some time to read aloud what’s gracing the screen. Does it sound good? Honestly good? Writers’ egos are fragile things (this I can attest to) and, perhaps, there’s a fear factor involved when it comes to correcting material, be it by someone else or oneself.
But consider this: one doesn’t perfect one’s craft if one isn’t willing to question and challenge, and develop it.
One thought on “He/She/It . . . Did . . . Again?”
One truth in our world is this: Writing, for those who take it seriously, isn’t easy.