Time for another refresher! Show, don't tell. Yes, we've covered this before, but doing so again won't hurt.
"No, I don't want to go to the grocery store." Devon shook his head determinedly.
Now consider this way:
Devon bit his lip. A chill rushed down his spine. The grocery store. His milk allergies and foliphobia were a glaring threat. "No. I don't want to go there."
Which sentence caused you to more emotionally involved and connected to what the character was feeling?
You see, showing feelings has everything to do with causing your readers to feel what the character feels. To cry or laugh when he does. To feel that prickle of nervousness or shiver of cold apprehension.
Lily was angry through and through. "How can you say that to me?" she demanded.
Lily clenched her jaw. She could feel heat rising in her face. "How can you say that to me, Jake? Does our friendship mean nothing to you?"
One tells. The other shows.
How does it work in a different time setting? Pretty much the same way, even if you are trying to add historical detail.
William felt fear. "I'm sorry, Sir John. Please, it won't happen again."
A cold chill washed down William's spine. Sir John had never lashed out so wrathfully at him before. Cousin or no cousin, this man was his master. And that strain of legal authority was budding in a way he had never seen before. He found himself bowing low. "Forgive me, my lord. I will never offend in such manner again."
Yes, one is much longer, but you get some historical background as well as William's feelings. Good character driven stories have to show the emotional workings of a character's heart in at least some detail.
Now it's your turn! Take the following sentence and practice showing, not telling in the comments. Have fun!
Ricardo bowed before picking up his sword. "Your wish is my command, majesty."
Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!