Show, Don't Tell is the rule in storytelling, though books are able to get away with breaking that rule more than film and television can. That's because books have narration, which means that essentially anything that happens, the reader is being told about no matter what. When we're told in great detail what's happening in, say, an action scene, we're being "shown" the event. When we're simply told that the scene happened, we're being "told". In both cases, the scene is still indicated entirely with written narration. Dialog, however, is different. When two or more characters are talking, we're expected to see exactly what they're saying. This is the literary equivalent of "showing" us the conversation. We know exactly what Alice and Bob say, and in our head, we can picture the conversation happening as clearly as if we were watching a movie or in the room with the characters. Sometimes, however, authors decide they'd rather tell about the conversation than show the conversation directly. This is Informed Conversation. Consider the differences between the following. Direct conversation:
- "Some people are just stupid," Alice said, as she hung up her coat."What brought that up?" Bob asked."When I was driving home," Alice said, "I saw a cop car right there kinda out in the open at a junction, and so I slowed down. But the guy behind me kept zipping right up to the point where he was practically tailgating me, and I saw the cop car pull right out and hit his lights.""What?" Bob asked. "Was the cop car, like, hidden behind a bush or something?""No, it was right out in the open, real easy to see. No way you could have missed it. Broad daylight and everything."Bob shook his head in amazement. "Wow, what a dumbass. That reminds me of when I saw some guy pull right in front of me so close I had to honk my horn, then he immediately got pulled over. Did he not notice the cop car right behind him? I didn't even know it was there myself until I saw the lights, but how'd he not look in his rear view mirror?! Some people are so dumb, like you said."
- When Alice got home from work, she told Bob about how she spotted a police car out in the open waiting to pull over speeders, and slowed down to avoid it, but somehow the person behind her didn't notice and actually sped up to the point where he was tailgating her. The police car had pulled over the tailgater. Bob shook his head in amazement upon hearing the story, and related a story of his own, about the time a driver who happened to have a police car right behind him stupidly decided to pull right in front of Bob and immediately got pulled over.