Another workshop I so enjoyed was called "It's Showtime!" by Janice Hardy. Just by the title alone, I have no doubt you know what we covered. Yep - Show don't Tell - a simple concept to some, but not so simple to everyone.
After many workshops, how-to books and discussion with other authors, I feel I have beaten this stubborn horse to death. And still someone tells me a simple fact and makes the well-known light bulb dazzle me with its brilliance.
Fact to remember – If you can physically act out what your character is doing, then describe it – that's show.
Tell: (no action) I reached over to pick up the cup.
Show: (action) I reached over and picked up the cup.
Or better yet …I picked up the cup. The old rule of KISS works well. Unless the reaching over is important to the plot for some reason, leave it out.
This information resonated with me. I often find myself using to-verbs (infinitives) as shown in the example above. As soon as the speaker mentioned this as a flag for telling, my stomach tightened. I glanced around at the others in the room…who were all glancing around at the others in the room. Seems like there were more than a few guilty culprits. (Being a bit of a bitch, that did make me feel better….my bad!)
A few red flag words – before, when, wondered, with, in, felt, sound of, tried to, could see, as, considered, thought, realize….