We are constantly assailed with the concept of show, show, show. We can all weave a good tale. That's what a writer does - tells a tale. But a great writer shows the story as he weaves the words to reveal the tale.
The principle is hard to master for some. Exactly what is showing and what is telling?
Both examples tell us the same information: (1) Rover was a dog. (2) He was old. and (3) He had trouble walking. But it is the manner in which the information is given to the reader that is important. The first example states the facts. The second example creates an image in our mind. I never stated the dog's breed but I'm willing to bet that most people visualized a dog with long, droopy ears, probably reminiscent of either a beagle or blood hound.
So how does one incorporate "show" into the story?
Notice the difference? Telling us doesn't reveal very well that the mother is a little upset. With dialog, you can hear her mother's voice and probably remember incidents from your past that were very similar. Also, you've given the character emotion and mood, not to mention, upped your word count.
Questions: Who are "they" and where are they? Why are they at the park and lake? When did they walk back? Why did they decide to do this more often?
Revised Example: Barry picked up Nancy in his 57 Chevy and headed to the state park. "I thought we'd watch the sunset at the lake's edge," Barry said and opened the car's door for Nancy. "It will be a lovely walk through the woods," Nancy agreed. Barry spread the plaid blanket down and they sat, arm-in-arm, watching the last rays of the colorful sunset. "This is lovely," Nancy whispered. "We should head back before it gets too dark," Barry said. "The woods can get quite dark and I forgot a flashlight." Nancy smiled at Barry. "This was fun. We will have to do this again but be better prepared."
Some answers but as the writer, you can still question this — and re-write it as:
Barry carefully closed the door of the 57 Chevy, making sure Nancy's dress didn't get caught then dashed around to the driver's side. "I thought we'd go to the park and watch the sunset tonight before we went to the theater." "How delightful," Nancy gushed. Barry parked the car and retrieved the plaid blanket from the backseat. "Better grab a flashlight," he said. They walked arm-in-arm through the woods to the lake. Nancy leaned on Barry's shoulder and they held hands as the last rays of sunset glowed in vivid reds and golds. Frogs, crickets and other insects began their night sounds. "We'd better get a hustle on if we want to make the movie," Barry said and helped Nancy to her feet. "This is wonderful. Next time I can make us some snacks and we can stay longer," Nancy offered. Barry grabbed the blanket and turned on the flashlight. "This will light our path back." He placed a protective arm over her shoulder and guided Nancy back to the car. The movie awaited them.
Again, even more questions could be asked and answered. Why did Barry decide to go to the lake - was he going to propose? What type of snacks was Nancy thinking of? What is the time period of the scene? 1960? 2010? Are they young? Old?
By showing, a writer has the chance to expand / expound on the story and make the scene come alive. How boring to tell us: They went to the lake and watched the sun set.