Too much showing

I received two rejection letters this weekend. One from an agent and one from an editor from a small publisher. The agent provided a one line rejection sentence which is fine. The small publisher is the one that confuses me. The contact was up front with the rejection. Complimented me on my story idea but commented that the writing was a bit weaker than what they wanted to see. OK, that’s their interpretation. Their next comment was odd because the editor stated “there seemed to be a fair amount of showing and not telling.”

WHAT???

This is what confuses me. What makes a book, a book is the showing! If my writing consisted of me telling the reader the main character is mad — isn’t that pretty boring? I thought the art of writing was based on the premise of showing not telling. Maybe I took the editor’s comments too literally but in all the classes I’ve taken and books I’ve read on writing, show don’t tell seems to be a hard and fast rule to understand.

I would love someone to explain the message I received from this editor. Is there a balance between showing and telling? Is the difference between an aspiring author and an established one?

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Wolverine: X-Men Origins

When I should have been writing or crafting a query, I instead watched Wolverine (X-Men Origins). Comic book movies can be hit or miss. Wolverine was just OK. It wasn’t Iron Man, but it wasn’t Dare Devil either. Acting was pretty good but the story line was a little loose. However, I’m digressing. The movie got me thinking about the character Wolverine. He’s been in countless comic books and a few movies. He embodies the perfect anti-hero. He’s not a good guy or by any stretch a bad guy. He’s just making his way in the world; he’s not out looking to do good deeds or rob a bank.

To put this in a writer’s perspective, the anti-hero provides a number of opportunities. Good, bad or indifferent the character can move seamlessly through a novel (just as long as the writer’s consistent). Personally, I’ve never liked my characters too good or too bad. I like them imperfect which is closer to reality. Are we all anti-heroes? No. Most of the time I believe we’re all doing something good in the world. Especially, if one is connected to society then a character like Wolverine really doesn’t exist nor do his adamantium claws.

I believe anti-heroes work best in science fiction. They’re typically found in dystopias or post-apocalyptic landscapes where the character can only take care of themself. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing this character pop up more often. I state that as a fan and actively look for this type of fiction.