Yes, I know that sounds like a slogan, but I couldn’t think of a better title.
Also, they do.
When we don’t have the space for show, don’t tell, due to the fact that books have tight confines and it’s hard to hold the audience’s attention for more than five hundred pages, then we can show by, rather than showing the audience a character’s trait, reveal them using the reactions of the characters around them to their actions.
I realized this while watching Iron Man 3. Early in the movie, we catch the idea that Happy has, post his promotion to Head of Security, been rather over-zealous at his job, irritating both Tony and Pepper at times (Tony, why are you putting your phone in the fridge? That thing can not be cheap by any stretch of the imagination!)
And how do we learn this?
Well, mostly from how Tony and Pepper react to it. We don’t actually see Happy’s over-zealousness in action, but we do see Tony and Pepper’s reaction to it.
The way characters react to other characters is a valuable tool to show how the first character normally acts.
This is also done in the first Ranger’s Apprentice book, The Ruins of Gorlan. We don’t know much about Gilan, though we find out more about him as the series progresses (he’s the son of a knight who is also the battlemaster of another fief, etc.) When we first meet him, we learn the most about him by the way Halt treats him–with some (veiled) affection, and humor.
If there’s not time to introduce a second character properly, you can simply have them be already acquainted with another character who’s already a “party member”, and then show what kind of person they are, not just through their actions, but through the way their friend reacts to them.
Not hard at all. 😉
Thanks for reading, and God Bless!