That catchy little snippet comes from the latest issue (November) of Writing Magazine, a quotation from bestselling author Lee Child. According to the article by Tony Rossiter, Child ‘believes that reading is the only essential training for a writer.’ Apparently, Child eschews the ‘show, don’t tell’ principle, adding, ‘There is nothing wrong with just telling the story. So liberate yourself from that rule.’
Who am I to disagree with someone whose books sell in their millions?
However, if this quotation is accurate, then it’s nonsense.
Whether he knows it or not, he ‘shows’ in his writing – through character point of view, description and emotional content.
‘Show’ puts the reader into the scene and into the protagonist’s mind. That, to a large extent, is what makes the Jack Reacher books popular: character. You can’t have ‘character’ without ‘show’.
There is a place for ‘tell’ in narrative – to move the story forward a little faster, to skim over some boring life bits. But if you want reader involvement, you need to ‘show.’
As for reading, I totally agree if you want to be a writer then you must read – ideally, widely, both fiction and non-fiction; a little poetry wouldn’t go amiss, either.
So, if you want to try the hard way to find a publisher, follow his advice... but don't hold your breath.