distinct purpose of looking for "show, don't tell" problems. You're bound to find examples. Sometimes, telling can't be avoided. There will be times when you just have to explain something succinctly, and doing otherwise would make your prose seem wordy and pretentious." More often than not, however, telling can be avoided.
When you find yourself using words that define a character's emotions in your writing--as in "he felt happy"--you can be almost certain you're doing some telling. You'll have to admit, there's a big difference in the amount of impact your writing will have when, as opposed to saying "he felt happy" you say, "He leapt from his chair, grinning like a lunatic, and did a little jig on the throw rug." Either describes a happy man, but the second is vibrant and gives us a very concrete image of just HOW happy this fellow is.
Another indicator of telling is passive or weak voice. Passive verbs are those "to be"
verbs like "was" and "were" and "are". Weak verbs are those that don't say anything
with any amount of punch, like "went" and "felt" and "looked". As in:
The cat went away vs.
The cat bolted out of the yard
It looked like rain vs.
Heavy clouds hung in the darkening sky.
He felt angry vs.
He punched a hole in the wall.
Watch out for adverbs, too. "He felt VERY angry" isn't any better than "He felt angry",
and it's still telling. "He punched a hole in the wall" really doesn't leave us guessing
how angry this character was.
Remember when you were in school and you'd have Show and Tell? Remember the
popular kid who got up in front of class and told everybody how he spent his Summer
with his family at the beach looking for seashells and blah, blah, blah, blah? Remember the geek with the tape on his glasses who didn't ramble on about the beach, but brought an actual shark's tooth to pass around the classroom? Okay honestly, peer politics aside, which presentation did YOU like better?