Telling Vs Showing, Or Is It?

The advice is hammered into a baby writer’s head almost from Day One: “When writing anything,show don’t tell.”

I’m not the first to point out the following, but it bears repeating, so let’s think about this, shall we? And let’s begin with two character descriptions:

“Jim Bob Hattrick was the sort of man who would have everyone in the county attending his funeral, if only to see for themselves that the sumbitch was dead.”

“In orderly fashion, the long line of people in their Sunday best filed by Jim Bob Hattrick’s open casket. Some made a show of spitting on the corpse, but most were content to glare. No one cried, but a few did laugh.”

Which one is telling, and which one is showing? Continue reading