I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sick of all this talk about “showing” versus “telling.” There are several reasons for this. First, frankly, some people on this forum (and elsewhere) don’t really have a clear idea of what showing and telling really are. I see people critiquing work in our Workshop and complaining that the author is “telling” on the basis of about half a sentence. You can’t tell if something is “telling” based on half a sentence. It takes more than that – at least several sentences – to establish the psychic distance characteristic of telling. So unless the author has made a habit of telling, and hence has established a psychic distance between the reader and the material greater than he is trying to achieve, the criticism is meaningless. Second, too many people (here and elsewhere) seem to think that all “telling” is bad and all “showing” is good. This is simply not true. Showing and telling are techniques the writer can use to control pace and psychic distance, nothing more. If the writer wants to cover a lot of material quickly, “to make a long story short” as it were, he tells. If he wants to bring the reader wholly into the drama, to provide the reader with the experience of actually being one of the characters as the scene is progressing, he shows. Different techniques for different purposes. Good writers will use both, and will use them wherever they’re needed, in any one story. I just read the short story in the current (Aug, 26, 2013) issue of The New Yorker, and it’s pretty much all telling, beginning to end. It wasn’t my favorite story ever, but it was effective. (It was translated from the Chinese; I wonder if that has anything to do with it.) Third, as with just about anything else in writing, this is not a binary (either/or) issue. There are degrees of showing and telling. Pace and psychic distance are almost infinitely adjustable between extreme showing and extreme telling. It just seems to me that “showing” versus “telling” is not really a useful measure for critique unless it’s an extreme, obvious case. And there’s nothing saying that all-showing is automatically better than all-telling. I highly recommend an essay by Anna Keesey called “Making a Scene: Fiction’s Fundamental Unit” which is included in a book called The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House. Keesey offers a different way of looking at scene construction based on “story time” versus “discourse time” and concepts she calls “unfolding” and “infolding.” I find this essay far clearer and more sensible – and more useful, ultimately – than the standard “showing” versus “telling” conception. Any thoughts?