Those words drove me insane when I first started hearing them. What did it mean? How could I change what I was doing? I tried to understand, but the concept completely eluded me. I didn't get lucky enough to find many examples online that were helpful. All I got over and over was, "show us what is going on". Gerblarble!
Then I got lucky. A friend of mine, who is already published, looked over the first page of one of my WIP's. What I got back was a mess of colors, and yet everything finally clicked. I can never express to her how grateful I am that she showed me (not told me) how to fix it. One page will make a lifetime of difference in my writing.
To save everyone from going through the frustration I have, I'm going to show you a couple of examples of show versus tell.
Tell: Her ship pulled into the port.
Show: Her ship shuddered and wobbled while it pulled into the pitiful excuse for a planet-side port.
See the imagery now? Can you feel the ship vibrating around you? Can you imagine the run-down looking buildings and docks that make up the port?
I'll give you another example.
Tell: People screaming, buildings burning, dead would-be warriors scattered across the streets-
Believe it or not, it's the same thing in both the show and tell sentences. If you show us though, it gives a richer flavor and lets people transport to the moment. I hope others found this helpful in their endeavor to learn.
I'd also like to give a shout-out to Rachel Firasek! Check out her website. Her awesome book, Piper's Fury, will be coming out soon! ~ D. F. Krieger