Are you a storyteller or a writer?

Of course, you want to say both, but it’s never that simple. As you research writing, what will red-flag you as an amateur or an industry professional, you learn the tricks of the trade to increase your chances of being published. For discussions sake, lets say that sticking to these will ensure your tent is firmly pitched into the writers camp. But you find successful exceptions to these rules: authors who can tell a great story without staying true to the accepted writing conventions. And damn, do they tell a good story. And yes, I used an adverb in this paragraph.

As a reader, I’m not too bothered as long as my interest as held. I even don’t mind if there’s no prose, the author used an alternative dialogue tag to said and, god forbid, when they are referring to a blue dress, it’s just blue. So why is it that we strive to hit all those literary buttons simultaneously with every finger that isn’t cramped with RSI? Respect from peers? Publisher interest?

Who is driving this train anyway? The readers. But how often do we listen, and how often are we too busy talking about how we don’t understand how Fifty Shades is so successful because the writing is an affront to the craft? The woman made money because she had everyone hanging on every chapter she released, and you know what? Even though the readers were pushing that train along, inevitably it was the non-readers who got that baby rolling. And why? Maybe because they didn’t have to worry about how it was written, they just wanted a good story. We all talk about hitting those markets, but with people reading less every year, the market I would love to hit? Non-readers. True story.

On my first draft, I was telling a story – just get the story out. But I believe that by my final draft, my book turned into a novel, my storytelling into writing. But my final question is this: should we let the craft of writing interfere with telling a good story?

15 thoughts on “Are you a storyteller or a writer?

    • To get the perfect balance is the plan. I remember almost stalling my whole project for fear of critisim from literary experts. I rarely ever hear people talking about targeting potential readers, but I guess when you’re talking markets, you have to consider what has worked in the past and current readers are the best indication of what works.

  1. Its similar to the argument of the difference between literature and genre fiction. I have many great stories that have amazing pieces of writing. I believe they can happily coexist.

    • Ah, yes, it is! When explaining my book to people, I always start with, ‘Well, I won’t win any literary awards…’ lol. And I agree, they aren’t dichotomous, but I wonder how many people don’t get their works off the ground because they fear the criticism, but they have a great story to tell πŸ™‚

  2. I think that with everything it’s a balance. Yes, being well written is important, but nearly as much so as good storytelling. I believe there is such a thing as editing too much and I’ve read some things that were perfectly written but really boring. The storytelling still must come first and I don’t think that sticking to all of the rules matters as much as a good story. In the end people want to be entertained.

    • Yes, sometimes it’s the book that keeps you up all night that is the better ‘read’. I think you are right, though. There needs to be a balance. And while trying to tick boxes, I lose track of why I wrote in the first place: to tell a story – and keep people up all night πŸ™‚

  3. You’re so right. My thoughts entirely. No-one ever said that traditionally published work is well-crafted. It has been published because it will sell. So why indeed do we bother? Perhaps because those of us who craft are writing, and those of us who do not are doing something entirely different? Thanks so much for another great post and best wishes for a fulfilling and rewarding creative process.

    • That’s the tough part: we constantly compare ourselves to what has already been validated as a publishable book. I think a lot of the time, who you know and networking in person can put you ahead of those that might be the more experienced writer πŸ™‚ They are able to get their ‘story’ across via more personal means.

  4. I try to tell a story as simply as possible. I cut passive voice and the flourishes that stick out in the editing process. I want to disappear behind the images and the feelings that I evoke in the same way you want your ego to disappear when you meditate.

    • This is how I always wanted to write, but thought I was expected to write in a more complicated manner. Through researching, I’ve found that it is the writer who can convey their talents without the reader realising it that has succeeded πŸ™‚

      • I like to be invisible. I get the affirmation from having written. When I get to the stage where I have actual readers, then I imagine that will be a different set of affirmations and experiences.

  5. I know I’ve felt daunted by writing prowess to the point where my story might never get out. And it’s sad that people may never tell theirs 😦 I’m still confident I can keep some people up all night reading πŸ™‚ There has to be someone out there…

  6. Pingback: Welcome to a New Friend: lorelle page | Reader-to-Writer | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

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