Writing vs Storytelling


Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
That was interesting to read, both because it highlighted some differences between the author's writing culture and my own, but also because I noticed some similarities between our experiences in spite of those differences.

I assumed (and googled to check) that the author is American, because they seem to have a very developed culture for creative writing classes and workshops, which is nearly absent in my own country. Thus while I also have had an all-consuming desire to write stories since childhood, I never even considered taking classes or workshops. When I finished high school, I was vaguely aware that Copenhagen has a school for authors, but growing up in the Danish version of Texas, I had nothing but scorn for the big city people in the East, so I never even considered it. I wasn't interested in learning how to write, I wanted to learn what the product of writing is, i.e. how do books work? So I went to study literature at the university. My very first semester, there was an event in town with the graduates of the aforementioned author school reading their debut works aloud. I felt very vindicated; they all wrote in a similar style, very minimalistic, and with little to no story. It felt very much like words for the sake of words.

Just so this post isn't only about me, I do think this ties very well into our discussion in the other thread about literary fiction vs. genre fiction. A culture with this distinction or criteria would also be prone to developing an industry promoting the former with a heavy emphasis on words, sentences, phrases etc. Reversely, frowning upon the latter type of fiction, it would disdain its characteristics, which seems to be plot/story.

I admit, I have a little such bias myself; I think certain genres easily devolves into being only about the plot, including fantasy, at the expense of the characters. But this is a potential danger, not a given; fantasy can have the most incredible characters, in part because at its best, fantasy excels at telling a story.

Noor Al-Shanti

Philosophizes with Kellhus
Just stumbled upon this now while searching the forums for stuff about world-building. Very interesting read, thanks for sharing, Peat.

Tanniel, I also would have never considered taking any writing classes or workshops! I discovered early on that although I love books and reading and writing my English teachers were on a completely different planet when it came to literature. Not only were their book choices things I found stupid/boring they also never taught us the appropriate language with which to really discuss literature deeply. It was all about the symbols and how the color of the curtains represented something and all the rest of that nonsense. And if anyone dared be critical of any aspect of the chosen book in class it was frowned upon. I also find that when teachers try to assign "creative" projects they never really know how to foster that creativity and they end up making you write a poem in 20 minutes and then forcing you to read it to the class! That's not how creativity happens! So yeah, never expected to get anything much better from any writing classes and stayed as far from those as I could.


Anyway, the author's main point about writing vs. storytelling is a great one that bears discussing. It's not really about the sentences or the grammatical rules or even the word choice, those are just tools to tell your story. Yes, being able to write nice, polishes sentences that flow and can conjure a nice image will help, but if there's no substance to it, no story behind your words, then they just fall flat.

I guess that goes for world-building too, but I'll keep looking for (or start) a world-building thread so that I don't derail this one!

Ryan W. Mueller

Ran bridges next to Kaladin
I've always approached writing from the standpoint of a storyteller. I'm the same as a reader. It's great if you can write brilliant prose, but if you don't make the reader care about your story, it won't matter how good your prose is.

Jordan R. Murray

Possibly a Darkfriend
Thanks for posting this; what a great reminder for authors to step back and look at their work from a different perspective. It's easy to lose sight of how a reader looks at stories vs. how an author sees their work. Storytelling can be lost in the back of the author's mind as an assumption rather than an included chapter; I struggled with that when writing my first book, and the realization itself is an essential part of keeping interest in the story alive!

One of the pleasures of writing is the freedom of putting anything we want down on a page. The torturous aftermath is when we get carried away. Readers lose interest.

It's a rare pleasure to read someone like Patrick Rothfuss, who manages to fold beautiful prose and a compelling plot together. Now there's a storytelling legend, no mistake. And let's remember how many years-and how many drafts-it took for him to reach his present, glorified state.

*humbly bows down*