Show or Tell – Word choices and the debate between wordy and descriptive

In reading some of the critiques I’ve received from folks, I am working on honing my story craft.  I tend toward too much rather than concise.  Still, I’m getting a bit of the “show” them what’s happening, rather than “tell” them.” I try to think through that when I’m putting together a story but I still end up on the tell side of the street. Not that I’m concise in my word usage… LOL. I think I am not using the right language. I re-read my paragraphs and they feel too heavy. I pared them down and then I feel like I loose depth.  I get back the depth and my reading scale scores go too high (that’s the reading ease score that equates to grade level reading).  Trying to keep the balance has me paralyzed so I throw all the rules out and just write and the story wanders off track. Frustration.

In researching writing style, I came across a well crafted article in the “Wordiness” debate for fiction writers. This is written by AJ Humpage, an established UK author with 25 years in the biz. why-being-wordy-isnt-sin.  She also has a marvelous blog post on Word Choice.

I want to find a balance between descriptive and too wordy.  Where, oh where, is the middle ground? How do you know if you’ve just bored or entranced your reader? How do you world build without burdening the reader with too much description? How do you create interesting fiction and maintain a mid-range reading ease score?

2 thoughts on “Show or Tell – Word choices and the debate between wordy and descriptive

  1. Answering your question: Beats me! Just express yourself, is it boring? My charming personality did not mesmerized you? Your loss! Me? No wonder why I don’t sell any books! But guess what? Now I am getting me a following! That’s better than the best seller list! Really? That beats me as well! There is always that distasteful hypocrisy! Truth? I do wish I could write, period!! 🙂


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