A Writer’s Look At Storytelling: Comparing Crafts


Last week, Kait Nolan posted about telling bedtime stories, (which you can read here) and the discussion got me thinking about the art of oral storytelling.

Long preceding the written word, storytelling is a craft quite unique from ours. Like comparing apples and oranges, storytellers and writers have things in common, but there are also many differences. The writer searches painstakingly for the perfect words, drawing a reader in with intricate details that add depth to characters and plot. The storyteller, like the writer, develops a story with a beginning, middle, and end… but they are very selective of the details they include, relying upon tone of voice, dialect, facial expressions, and body movement as added tools to connect them with their audience.

I’ll admit I’m not much of a storyteller. I can relate actual events of my day to people. I can tell a joke and get the expected response. What I’m lousy at, is telling a good-old once-upon-a-time—the stuff I love to write the most. So… does my way of analyzing these stories as a writer get in the way of my attempts to tell an effective story? I believe that may be my problem.

Do you have any personal storytelling experience? Tell us about it! Have you had the opportunity to listen to a professional storyteller—to consider the similarities and differences in our crafts?  Feel free to chime in and share your thoughts. Would love to hear from you!

Laura Ritchie


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. melindamcguirewrites
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 15:57:36

    I agree that these have two skill sets with some overlapping. Some people (I, unfortunately, am not one of these people) have both! I’m thinking of Mark Twain, and since I just heard him speak this weekend, it’s fresh on my mind – Rick Bragg. Excellent, entertaining, engaging stories – both written and oral. I’ll admit, I’m more than a little envious!


    • UnrestrainedFancy
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 00:50:42

      I know what you mean about being envious! I’m thinking of joining a local storytelling guild to learn a little more about it. I might have grandchildren someday, and I need to be better prepared! They wouldn’t be able to read my novels for YEARS! 🙂


  2. Kirstie
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 21:33:13

    Even though I don’t remmeber it most of the old friends of the family tell me of nights when they’d stay over and the next morning I’d jump up on their beds and tell them a story, not from a book, but straight from my imagination. I wish I could have anything more than a vague recollection of it or could remember any of the stories I came up with, because they all talk about it like it was so amazing.

    As for an example of storytelling you might be able to look at I don’t know if you ever saw it, but there was a short TV series called ‘The Storyteller’. It was a Jim Henson production, the monsters and baddies were usually muppets, but not Sesame Street style muppets, think a little more gritty and freaky. John Hurt was a storyteller and each episode he would tell a fairytale to his dog and assumably you. They were all amazing, and a lot of what made them so special was the fact the storyteller character was telling you the story. If you can find the episodes do watch them, they are still my favourites to this day and a great example of the storytelling i think you’re talking about.


    • UnrestrainedFancy
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 00:41:10

      Sounds like you have quite a natural gift for the craft. It’s something that can really make a connection with people that they tend to remember for a long time.

      I had forgotten about that Jim Henson show. Great example! I’ll have to look it up to jog my memory a bit.

      Thanks so much for your comments!


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