I'm spending about 90 minutes a day reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Most of the time I'm immersed in the story, not really paying attention to the techniques used. But yesterday I came upon a section of the book that did what I've been struggling with. It captured the moment of mental change for one of the main characters.
Most people would say that change is important. Characters are supposed to grow or change from the beginning of the story to the end. I had written a couple of novellas that tried to capture that change, but I had a hard time actually describing it. My problem was that they were more showy stories, rather than telly. Most of the writing focused on the external. In that view, it was hard for me to show the change.
But in Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez often goes internal, and so it was very organic when he described the moment of change that happened in the character's head while he was sitting, having a conversation--a relatively action-less scene.
I realize that I need to do more of this focused sort of reading, where I pay more attention to how other writers are doing specific things that I am having trouble with. In this case, it was a bit irrelevant because of the difference between show and tell, but I did find it educational. Now, I can go back to books like Old Man and the Sea or The Road to see how those authors accomplish the same thing, assuming they do.
I'm still wondering if a character's change can be shown in external action. The answer is yes, but it hasn't happened in any of my stories yet. I think that has to do with the stories I choose and the characters I choose to live them.