Writing is a form of storytelling, but it is so drastically different than the oral tradition it sprung from that writers and author have to really acquaint themselves with the contrast.
Translating thought onto a page isn’t just about the message. It’s about the flow of the words, the feel of the characters, the picture an author paints to make each scene real.
Remembering the readers is important. Not to develop the content, but to recognize what is hard on the eyes and the brain. To keep readers engaged one must offer diversity of sentence length. No one wants to be talked down to.
500 tiny sentences are insulting. It’s not cool. It’s boring. It has little to say.
On the flip side, a novel full of nothing but long drawn out self-congratulatory statements that do nothing but pad the author’s ego are annoying and headache inducing. Readers are smart individuals; they don’t need someone with a fancy book exploiting their literary with extraneous exposition.
Pushing messages in a book is also insulting. A good writer doesn’t need to preach. They present relatable content that leads the audience down the path that led to the conclusions they have drawn.
The biggest eye-roll in publishing is paper thin characters with the personality of my big toenail. Sure it sparkles when I paint it, but it doesn’t have a brain. Let us see the people connected to their appendages, what is living beneath the cover.
Why is all this different from live storytelling?
Presence and charisma can make up for lack of detail. When someone stands before a crowd with their material, heart out, tongue sharp, an energy connects everyone in the room.
The spell of reading is solely based on the perception of the reader.
Storytellers who do live readings and performances of their work have more control over how their content is received because they can adjust based on response. It doesn’t matter how underdeveloped the characters are if a live storyteller has the right props, expressions, vocal tones, and posture.
I started out as a performer so storytelling came easy. I’m always better in person. I had to learn to shove my personality into my work.
That is the single toughest aspect of writing, for me: fitting all of my energy onto a cold lifeless page.
I’ve met and worked with plenty of authors who are the opposite. They can write beautifully but have little to offer in the realm of theatrics.
The modern age overly romanticizes every damn creative field. Sure it’s fun to say that I write for a living. I know being a full-time writer is a gift. But I also know that my shower is broken, my roof needs to be fixed, and I have a WIP screaming at me so loud the rest of the world sometimes falls into the background which is dangerous territory for a person with a family and desires to accomplish more in life than just sitting down and typing until my arms throb. My thumbs pop, my fingers go numb.
The physical, mental, and spiritual effects of writing go both ways. Balancing the benefits with the drawbacks is work. Balancing the necessity for storytelling elements in writing is also work. Hard work.
It’s worth it to the people who are truly dedicated. And the successful authors are the ones who find their balance.
It’s not enough to be just a storyteller or a writer, literature is an art form. Society makes us forget this. Don’t forget the art in this odd industry.