More Stories: The Creative Writing Podcast
Season 3: Episode 6 – A Theory of Storytelling
A Theory of Storytelling: Written, literary storytelling is the act of the author translating a story into a text that can be consumed by a reader.
I have worked with a LOT of new writers. By a LOT, I mean somewhere around 200, at this point, and by NEW what I mean is this: these are folks who have never attempted to write a story with the purpose of having someone else read it.
Some of these new writers have been verbal storytellers their entire lives. Or they’ve been very successful writing for PR purposes, or academic purposes, or business reasons. Some of them just love reading, and think they have something to add. Others have said, “Someday I’ll write a novel” or “someday I’ll write down all these crazy events that happened in my life” and they are finally getting to their some day.
The would-be writers I’ve worked with have all been smart, capable, interesting folks. They know how to write a sentence, and even if their grammar and punctuation skills are a little rusty, they aren’t exactly slouches when it comes to communicating.
But, to some extent or another, EVERY SINGLE WRITER runs up against this very simple truth: what you THINK you have written on the printed page is NOT what the reader reads on the page.
In some senses, this is ALWAYS true. Even the greatest book ever (and you can insert your favorite book title into this place, and take a moment or two to think about how wonderful that book is……) Even the greatest book ever fails, in some ways, to adequately tell the story the author wanted to tell. Or, maybe it’s better to say, even the greatest book will fail to impart the full story to every reader.
My point is this: Really good books have only minor problems. Really good books more fully translate the complete story to the most readers, even if that translation isn’t perfect.
But what separates good writing from not-so-good writing often comes down to an inability of the author to translate the fullness of the story into text in a reader can understand.
At least, that’s what I attempt to explain with this theory of storytelling.
In this episode I also answer a question from listener Loretta Stephens about when to abandon old stories and focus on new ones, and how to deal with chronic “non-finishing” of literary endeavors.
I mention a few specific things in this podcast episode, and here are the links:
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