My biggest bugaboo as a fiction writer is having to go back and rewrite whole paragraphs, and even whole scenes, because they too often tell, rather than show.  The notes I write to myself in the margins of almost every page of a first draft are the same, over and over:  Show don’t tell?  Show don’t tell?

I understand the concept, of course.  A reader needs to see a character living such-and-such experience rather than merely be told about it.  Long paragraphs of telling are tedious.  Those are the bits readers skip.

I guess that’s why, as I’m getting the first draft fleshed out, my inner editor hollers, Hey, what does this look like?  You’re not showing!

She reminds me almost constantly that I need to remember to show.

Don’t say, “Bub was angry.”   Show him throwing things, slamming doors, shouting with red face and bulging eyes, and maybe a tic.  Leave out the weak verbs.  Get rid of the passive voice.  Write actively.

I have to remind myself to look for all five senses.  It’s not just about what something looks like.  What does it smell like?  What about taste, touch, and sound?

But I also have to remind myself that too much description can be as bad or worse than not enough.  It’s all about balance.

Sometimes I wonder, Do I need to show this? It’s really a matter of judgment, isn’t it?  It seems to me that I have to trust my reader to be able to imagine certain details.  If s/he doesn’t see something exactly the way I’m envisioning it, as long as it’s not vital to the plot, then it really doesn’t matter.

Or does it?