Story telling is a time-honored way of passing on information and wisdom to others, and has been used since ancient times by tribal clans and families as a method for sharing cultural traditions and customs with the next generation. Even some of the classic novels I read as a boy used the literary style of ‘telling’.
But when I came to write a book, I was advised by more experienced authors not to ‘tell’ the story, but rather to show it. At first, this was very confusing for me. Even the name of this unwritten rule for writers is vague. It could refer to various writing techniques. It may, for example, be a suggestion to use dialogue instead of exposition. Or it might mean to illustrate to the reader that a character felt happy, rather than simply state that the character was happy.
Furthermore, I had to ponder the reason for this way of writing. I asked myself,
“What’s wrong with simply stating that a character felt happy?” Only after seeing comparisons of paragraphs using the technique of ‘showing’ with paragraphs that used ‘telling’, could I see that ‘showing’ was more enjoyable for the reader.