A: The thing that I find myself writing the most often on my students' pages is "Show, Don't Tell."
is like watching a drama on TV. Tell is like reading someone's synopsis of what happened in that drama. Guess which is more interesting...
Here's an example from The Day of Small Things. I could TELL the reader that Aunt Belvy insisted that Dorothy drive her to the graveyard because she was worried about Birdie.
That would have been quick and easy -- probably why it's so tempting to do rather than SHOW. And there's nothing wrong with TELL for some information -- mundane, daily stuff. No need to SHOW your protagonist shopping for a bag of apples and some cereal unless there's something REALLY important about that shopping trip.
But if you use TELL when there's an opportunity for a dramatic scene, a scene that SHOWS your characters, then you've missed a chance to draw the reader in.
Here's my SHOW example.
*** *** ***
*** *** ***
She said she needed some fresh air but where in mercy’s sake can she have got to?
Dorothy stepped out to the front porch and looked through the trees to the path running up the mountain. There was still no sign of Miss Birdie, not in the yard nor out on the road where she usually took her walk.
“Up in the grave yard, that’s where you’ll find her.”
Dorothy started and whirled around. A moment ago Aunt Belvy had been sitting on the plastic-covered sofa, seemingly lost in a prophetic trance. Or asleep. Now she was standing, tall and imposing, in the doorway. And she was saying- no, the old woman was confused. Dorothy silently cursed Marvella for leaving this ancient, obviously crazy woman in her care, even as she spoke slowly and loudly into the ear of the prophetess.
“Why, you’ve had you a bad dream, Aunt Belvy. Birdie’s not in the graveyard; she’s just gone for a walk. I reckon you got a little confused-”
A bony hand grasped Dorothy’s arm. “Git in your car and crank the engine, young un. I want you to take me up to the grave yard where Birdie is. She’ll be talking to that old woman and I got to go protect her.”
The fingers held her in a pincers grip. “And I ain’t one lick confused.”