In the Self-Editing for Fiction Writers book I read recently, editors Renni Browne and Dave King have a handy acronym for a tendency in my writing that I’m trying to tackle: R.U.E., or Resist the Urge to Explain.
It’s where you show your character experiencing an emotion, and then go on to tell, or explain, the situation to the reader. Not only is the explanation unnecessary, but it also weakens the drama of the initial show.
I also have a tendency to repeat information in different ways. I’ve caught myself pretty much describing the same thing in two consecutive sentences. (<— see, look!) Sometimes, it's because I like the different ways I've thought to communicate the information. In those cases I cut one and choose the stronger. Other times I was hammering home a point I thought was vital, but didn't realise that I wasn't contributing anything useful or different in the second instance.
I suspect it’s largely to do with confidence. You have to trust you are getting your point across, without succumbing to fear and bolting on a surreptitious bolstering sentence. I believe readers always enjoy the experience more when they feel like they are being treated as competent, and intelligent.
So, now I try to show the situation and allow the readers to make their conclusions. I keep the tell for when it is needed, and will contribute something dynamic to the story. Hopefully, as I work on this issue it will become engrained, and I can focus on some other weakness in my prose.