Why You Should “Show, Don’t Tell”

Let your story come to life on the big screen of your imagination.

Juneta Key
The Ninja Writers Pub
8 min readAug 18, 2020


No survivors? Then where do the stories come from — I wonder.

Captain Jack Sparrow

When Pirates of the Caribbean came out, I was enamored with the movie. I loved Johnny Depp’s version of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Why? Because he brought the character to life. He was full of personality, beyond the typical.

Captain Jack, whether by his own devices — which was most often — or because of others’ machinations, meant trouble. The big screen came alive when he stepped into the camera view. That is what your stories need to do. How do you do that?

You show us instead of telling us.

What do you mean to show?

Pat’s brook-brown eyes had been staring through the little round window in the wall above the landing until Judy had made her mysterious remark about the parsley bed. It was her favourite window, opening outward like the port-hole of a ship. She never went up to Judy’s room without stopping to look from it. Dear little fitful breezes came to that window that never came anywhere else and you saw such lovely things out of it. The big grove of white birch on the hill behind it which gave Silver Bush its name and which was full of dear little screech owls that hardly ever screeched but purred and laughed. Beyond it all the dells and slopes and fields of the old farm, some of them fenced in with the barbed wire Pat hated, others still surrounded by the snake fences of silvery-grey “longers,” with golden-rod and aster thick in their angles.
~L.M. Montgomery,
Pat of Silver Bush, from Project Gutenberg Australia.

One of my all-time favorite writers is Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for writing Anne of Green Gables. I read these like candy when I was a kid. Why? Because she brought her scenery to life, it was a character in her book with all the other characters.

I wanted so bad to visit Prince Edward Island in Canada. It is still on my bucket list. As an adult, I even bought silver bushes to plant in my back yard because I longed to capture that feeling she evokes in her books, with such a strong sense of place and time that…