I had a rather alarming experience the other day.
With my manuscript creeping towards publication, my editor asked me to review the opening chapter of my book and approve some changes. What I found sent shivers down my back. The writing sounded clunky and the pacing was off… but most of all I realized there were large chunks of exposition. (Basically places where I as an author intrude into the story to list everything that’s going on rather than show you)… for example, consider the paragraph below:
White, for Aria, was the color of death. A wish rock had an endless appetite for magic and it never released any of the power it absorbed. Miriam, her wise grey eyes watching Aria closely, always knew exactly when to tuck the wish rock away. She had the knack of knowing when to stop before the rock began feeding on Aria’s life force.
This is an example of me telling you about something… it takes away from the intensity of the scene. Compare that paragraph to my rewrite:
Aria moaned. Deep cold clawed its way greedily through her body. The wish rock stole the heat of her magic and dropped her like a rag doll into Miriam’s capable arms. Her head rolled backwards as Miriam propped her in a chair before the vanity. Aria watched the feathers from her bed drift down from the ceiling and thought that they looked not so much like snow but like ash.
You might have heard it a million times before. I certainly have, and it looks like I’m still screwing it up. Show don’t tell. Show don’t tell.
I guess it will always be a learning curve. Now I’ve got an itch to rewrite my whole manuscript. But I won’t… you’ve got to stop sometime right?