This past week, I’ve been editing a book I haven’t picked up for a year. In my mind, the novel was a handful of weeks from being ready to publish. But I found something interesting as I started reading; I’ve grown a lot as a writer since my last draft. The beginning of one of my chapters read something like this:
Three dreary months had passed since coming to the castle. During this time, I was trained by Emily and Sara. Both had vastly different teaching styles, but I also came to learn a great deal about them as people.
It goes on like this for two and a half more pages, recapping all my character learned over three months. I got to the end of this section and thought, I’m telling a lot, but I’m showing nothing. So, I rewrote it to sound more like this.
I loved the training room in the mornings. It was the one place I could be alone with my thoughts.
“You’re here early.”
I whirled to find Emily staring at me from the doorframe. My heart raced. She never instructed me without sending a missive first, her time was too valuable.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
She crosses her arms in front of her chest. “It’s been three months since you first arrived. Emily and Sara have trained you the best they can, now it’s time to test your new skills.”
These examples aren’t perfect yet, but they show a little bit about how my perspective has changed as a writer. Every time I write something, I try to ask myself if I am showing or telling my reader. Because if I am only telling them what is happening, they aren’t going to feel like they are in the story. And if they don’t feel like they are in the story, then I don’t feel like I’ve done my job as a writer.