Annie On Writing

August 14, 2008

The Art and Craft of Storytelling

Filed under: Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 4:19 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Storytelling is about communicating. Before the written word, storytellers were revered as weavers of magic, empathic to the needs and dreams of their listeners They had the ability to pull in wisdom, messages and learnings into an entertaining tale. As a writer of tales, be it short stories or of great sagas within epic novels, it is now our role to uphold this responsibility.

The craft of storytelling is knowing which information your reader needs, and when to provide it in order to prolong suspense, interest and eagerness to keep reading. As readers become more sophisticated, it is the show and not tell style which is currently most appealing.

Once you know what to say, then you have the ability to say it succinctly.

Our craft as a writer is a never ending journey and one, like a garden, needs to be tended on a regular basis.

Storytelling is about asking and answering questions, exploring possibilities and pushing boundaries . The art and craft of the Storytelling Process can be broken into two parts. The creative part is constructing interesting, original ideas and situations and then to present it with fascinating juxtapositions.

A good start in producing a list of these is to start to ask unusual questions which start with “what happens when/if……..

  • Cars became an illegal possession?
  • Cows and Sheep began to talk?
  • Families were only allowed one child and those with more had to choose which one would live?

For longer stories thematic questions might focus on questions like:

  • Is love culturally learned or a natural state
  • Can a culture suppress natures mothering instincts completely
  • What is it to be human

You have to have something original and inherently interesting or at least an original way of presenting the idea. The first draft will just be capturing all your answers and originality without self sabotage or self editing. The logical and fearful self will not want to write a sentence unless it is perfectly crafted, thus many writers become stuck or paralyzed. By practicing a daily flow or stream of consciousness every day, you will begin to quell the little critical voice and allow your creative self to write all your ideas down.

The second part of the Storytelling Process is discipline. This is where the logical side of you can edit, reorganize, rewrite and re-conceptual.

Storytelling is both an art and a craft; requiring the free spirit of creativity to gift your fingers with original ideas and characters and for the stoic traditionalist to dot the “I’s” and ensure grammar is perfect. One without the other will appear either lackluster or disorganized.


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