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The Writer and The Storyteller

            Weird title for two things that seem the same but are different. But I tell people all the time that writing and storytelling are two different things and in order to be a writer or rather a novelist or fictional writer of any sort, you need both.
            This thought came from a conversation I had with my mom and dad. My mom said my dad likes to talk like he’s telling stories and that’s probably why I’m a writer and novelist, while my dad said that my mother writes and knows all that grammar and made me write all the time so she was to blame.

            I disagreed with them both. My mother doesn’t see much value in fiction and is just now coming around to it, while my dad doesn’t know the nuances of the English language so I said neither of them could write one right now, but my dad could probably write one easier and more interesting than my mother could.

            I’d love to give you examples, but my inner storyteller and writer won’t shut off long enough for me to come up with something that is so ridiculously boring but with good writing. So alas, I’m going to do my best to explain to you what I mean about writing and storytelling.

            To know how to write is that you know how to, well, writer. And though writing usually entails storytelling because you have to be able to interest and entertain a person to get them to read your story, to know how to write does not mean a person knows how to tell a story. Here’s what I mean.

            Let’s take for instance that English teacher who is a stickler for proper grammar and the technicalities or writing, but sees no value in fiction or writing for entertainment because it’s easy or has no substance. So you dare that teacher to write a short story. Chances are, though her story’s grammar and technical stuff is going to be impeccable, that’s going to be one boring story.

            Why? Well first, if she sees no value in fiction, chances are she hasn’t studied or read a lot of fiction to maybe pick up a particular style. Second, she probably loathes creative devices, and third, because she’s a stickler for grammar, she’s not going to count for the fact that not many people talk grammatically and perfectly correct. It just doesn’t happen. So this person’s problem is that she probably can’t weave a story. How do I know this? I’ve met people like this who degraded fiction because they were sticklers for perfect writing.

            At the same time you may have that person who is excellent at telling stories, but ask him to put that stuff on paper. The biggest problem you’re going to have with that person is organization. They probably won’t know that writing a story is different than telling it. You can’t do all the side notes that are done in telling a story in writing it down, nor will anyone be able to get through it to read it because this person is likely to just throw a story down the story without rules. How do I know? I started out that way. I was able to easily write stories, and I was always able to spin a good tale (for good and for bad), but I didn’t have the technical stuff. But considering I started writing at ten, I guess I was doing the best I could.

            In any case, you can’t have one without the other.

            The good part is it is pretty to easy to streamline storytelling so that you’re a great solid writer and storyteller and in fact, I think that’s just a talent that you’re just either born with or not. I don’t even know if there’s a way to teach someone to tell a good story unless it’s in them to tell it. But that’s my belief. Others may think differently.

            However, I won’t say that the storytelling craft can’t be learned. I had to perfect it as does everyone. But it’s either you pick it up or you don’t to me, which is like anything really. But alas, the point of this is, that everyone who knows how to write can’t write a novel and everyone who can tell a story can’t write a novel either. You need a combination of both skills in order for a person to write good fictional stories.

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