Anyone who has ever looked up writing advice has read 'show, not tell,' but it's hard to figure out exactly what it means.
We've had an amusing real-life example at my house.
For years, I've told Hubby that I don't play video games because I have an addictive personality and I don't want to get lost on the computer. (I recognize an increased snappishness when people interrupt me in the middle of something I'm temporarily addicted to, whether it's watching every Law and Order: SVU available on Instant Download or if it's the latest good book I've picked up. I have to work very hard to overcome this and NOT snap people's heads off.) So, because video games seem to last as long as a whole season's marathon, I try to avoid them.
But that's been the telling. Over and over again on the telling.
Then, two weekends ago, I found an old cellphone treeo at a garage sale. I'd wondered if I could add the book reader software (you know, for kindle and the nook) to an old palm and get a much cheaper version of ereader. So I offered a dollar and he sold it to me (hooray! Thank you, guy from the garage sale!) -- so then I spent the next few hours deleting his personal information and children's social security numbers off the phone just in case I decide it doesn't work or if I lose it somewhere I don't want someone else getting that stuff (addresses, phone numbers, ssns, and birthdates -- that's identity theft waiting to happen. You know, I probably should have kept his home number and called him to suggest checking the rest of the phones he had there. Sorry, guy from the garage sale.)
Anyway, in the middle of this, I noticed it had some games on it. One asteroid style game made sounds, and I hate things making sounds at me, but it was solitaire I couldn't stop playing. I know, Solitaire has been on every computer since the beginning of computers, and I have approximately ten decks of cards in the other room, but there was something about the little handheld device and the easy button pushing game that drew me in. I have spent days playing on that little device. (It didn't help that I did something to my shoulder and have been having trouble using my right hand or moving any part of my right arm even slightly away from my body).
You see, the problem is, when you uncover the last low card and all that's left to do is move cards around, an announcement pops up saying that you won, and do you want to start again. One button push and you have a whole new group of cards to try again. The question is, do you put the machine down before you get the new hand or do you get your new cards so you can start fresh the next time? I always have to do just one more thing. One more card flip, one more putting the red six on the black seven so I don't forget next time. One more.....
Three days of this and Hubby now understands why I don't play video games. He will never suggest I try a game again. Because I have finally showed him, in a concrete way, why I try to avoid them. I also probably shouldn't gamble.