We all hear the phrase Show Don't Tell and grind our teeth a bit, don't we? Well, Nathan Bransford has some good advice on this old theme and I've taken the liberty of jotting some of it down here so I can find it again easily.
(And as a reward for doing my homework, I rewarded myself with a picture of Aidan Turner courtesy of the BBC's "Being Human." How about him for the hero of your next novel?)
Anyway, back to Nathan and his good advice: "in general: universal emotions should not be "told." "
Instead, he advises that we should show how the character is reacting to their feelings. Being told that a character is "angry" is not very interesting - we're reading the book, we know his dog just got kicked, of course he's angry! It's redundant to be told that the character is "angry." More interesting is how the character reacts to seeing his dog kicked. Does he hold it in and tap his foot slowly? Does he explode? Does he clench his fists? Even if it's a first person narrative and the character knows he's "angry," it's more interesting for the character to describe how he's feeling or what he's thinking rather than saying, "I was so angry!" This also applies to:- Descriptions - It's not interesting to merely hear that someone is "pretty" - what characteristics make them pretty? Characterizing relationships - Not interesting to only hear that two people are "close". How are they close? What do they do together?
Yes, I've read similar stuff before today, more than once. But it never hurts to recap and remind oneself that this is the way to go. Eventually, I hope it will become second nature.