During my promo for my latest prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature. one of my wonderful hosts posted this article I wrote about the difference between being a storyteller and a writer. In case you missed it, here’s a revisit:
Storyteller vs. writer. It took me a long time and a lot of experience to realize the difference between these two. They both describe authors who create fiction but one makes you want to curl into a comfortable chair and get lost in the tale while the other encourages you to find a better you from what you’re reading. Do you know which one that is?
When I read one of these, I am awed by the beauty of the words chosen, how they flow together, the emotions they evoke from somewhere within me. The other–I don’t think about the artistry of the writing because I’m lost in the characters, plot, scenery, and drama.
One is serious writing–where you are expected to learn something, grow within yourself, rigorously examine your thoughts and beliefs. The other–all that’s expected is that you forget the world exists for a period of time and immerse yourself in a different reality created by the author.
One is designed to make you a better person as you travel the journey with the main characters. The other–the goal is to entertain. You will probably come out a better person but the purpose is something else. I don’t think Hemingway wrote Old Man and the Sea as much to entertain as to examine an issue. Which was he–storyteller or writer?
One covers a vast swath of authors, from novice to well-seasoned, a group we generally call ‘genre writers’. The other–you really can’t award yourself that title. Readers do it for you, by their love of your fiction, their eagerness for the next story.
Serious people–authors and readers–have different connotations of these writing styles, often judgmental, sometimes wrong, at least in my worldview. I found this one online. I’ll leave it anonymous but you can click the link and find out who it was. The article resonated with a lot of readers–he has 396 comments!
Writers speak in low, thoughtful tones, and everyone gathers around them at parties as they spontaneously leap into a wine-heightened progression of playful prose and insightful social commentary. Storytellers are generally at the same party, twitching in a closet as they fumble about with an over-willing partner, or, more often, by themselves.
I thought Anonymous was pretty accurate about writers’ opinions of themselves and in the end, when I finished the article, not too far off about storytellers (though I objected to the hypercritical nature of the initial description).
Which are you?
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.