Often I’d hear people complain how a movie/tv series/book had bad writing, but when I read/watched it, I thought the writing was great! The storytelling, on the other hand, could use some work. The way I see it, storytelling relates more to plot, characters, setting, pacing and twists, whereas writing has to do with the actual weaving together of words to portray images, dialogue, and emotions. Even acting, to me, is a form of writing! Everyone has a different view, of course.
About a week back, Rachel was the runner up in the excerpt blog poll with her short story, “The Second Civil War.” So I invited her to do a guest post on what writing and storytelling meant to her and she was up to the challenge! Give her a warm welcome:
My friend @markedforpower (you remember, the one that drew me those awesome comics!) asked me to answer a question for her. Surely! I figured it would be simple, like what’s your favorite color? *gasps* You don’t know me at all! It’s blue, just so you know. But nope. She decided to make me use my squishy head thing and actually think. Here’s what she asked: What’s the difference between writing and storytelling?
Writing is the technical aspect of conveying a story, whereas storytelling is the side of pure enjoyment and fun. When people write, I believe we all start off telling a story. Throwing some characters into a quagmire, watching them squirm and see how they might get out of it. With our storyteller hats on, we strive to entertain people with dazzling events, adorable characters and a clever plot. As writers, we need to string all those things together, fill holes, edit mistakes and cut out whatever nonsense we put in before.
It’s as if when you write a story, go through stages. Stage one: Storyteller. Thinking up ideas, throwing them on paper and fiddling around with how it’ll all play out. As I said before, this step is about fun. It’s about sharing your thoughts and being excited by its potential. Once the outline or draft is complete, I believe we change hats. The critical writer kicks in and we review what’s been written and pick it apart. How can it get better? What was a bad idea? What needs to be added? Writing is the second leg of the journey where you magnify every problem and scrutinize every word. This is the stage where characters are tested and plots have to hold their weight.
In the end, we may shift back and forth until the tale is finalized in a manner we are proud of, but I do believe there is a stark difference between writing and storytelling. If the creator of the story doesn’t use both stages I mentioned above, they’re only using one or the other. And it shows. A novel or movie that is pure writing tends to be a bit highbrow, literary and maybe more like a chore to get through. The storytelling types are conversely very loosely sewn together, lacking depth and there for a few laughs. Ideally what you want is something in between that draws from the strengths of each stage.
It’s a tricky business, writing. But I think under all the craft and technical bits, we all just want to tell a good story.
What does writing/storytelling mean to you?
-The Story Addict