Monday, May 16, 2011

Storytelling vs. Storytelling

I like words. A lot of the time, I am very good at stringing them together in an organized fashion to tell a story of people and places long ago and far away... (or not so long ago and not so far away, that works too).

But that's just on paper.  Telling stories aloud isn't so easy. (Okay, so on paper isn't so easy either.) But there are those times when my tongue trips over itself and when something that came out needs to be reeled back in, or when those word-soundwaves make their way to my ears and I realize that there is no response but... "uh... WHAT?"

SO. Without further ado, today I just wanted to talk about the differences and similarities between STORYTELLING (Aloud) and STORYTELLING (On Paper).

Storytelling (Aloud): Details are important.

I've noticed when listening to people share their funny stories and memories to each other is that you need to provide backstory. Otherwise, the story doesn't make sense and by the time you get to the punch line the listener is just confused instead of ready to react whether it be laughing or crying (whichever is appropriate. :D). And the more details, the better. It's best to give the listener as much detail as possible so they can really get a sense of where the punch line is coming from.

Storytelling (On Paper): Details are just important, but...

However, On Paper, lots of details, or as we writer-types like to call it "backstory" (in some cases), takes the reader OUT of the story instead of introducing us into it, like Aloud does. Even though some background is necessary, it's important that it comes in naturally instead of just retelling events of the past. The reader should get an idea of the backstory through the action, not details just being laid out for us. BUT details are still important. Just because they aren't present to the reader, they still need to be there in order to give life to the story.

Storytelling (Aloud): When the cow has been milked, STOP!

Today my choir teacher commented (*note that music people, like writers, are on a different life circle than everyone else*) that comedy is the cow and that laughter is the milk and their goal for the grade 9 comedy musical is to milk the cow of comedy... something like that... uhm.

ANYWAY... my point is, when storytelling (aloud), once you've elicited a reaction from your listener, that's the end of your story. There's no need to add more, to try and keep getting a reaction because, well, that's boring. As soon as you've said the punch line and the listener laughs/cries/does something crazy. (Of course there are stories with multiple punch lines which would have to elicit multiple reactions). 

Storytelling (On Paper):  Same goes (kind of)

To me, it seems like this concept applies to the storytelling (On Paper) concept of CLIFFHANGERS. Those are the "punch lines" of your story, where you finally end your story (or part of your story) with something that would get a reaction out of the reader. The not-going-too-far would apply to endings. There's no need to lay out every little detail about the story after the ending. Leave the punch line and final reaction be!

I could think of more, I'm sure, but that's lots of words for today. So.


Stories on Paper! Um... kind of.
Borrowed from
Visit for more cool pictures.
Storytelling Aloud from Paper. :) by Shirley Hughes
Found here
I like fonts. :) So I am obsessed with this site. I am so cool.

Thoughts? Share below!


  1. I can't tell stories out loud, it never comes out of my mouth the way it sounds in my head. It's frustrating most of the time, especially because the rest of my family are such good storytellers (out loud). But then, they're not good storytellers on paper. Makes me wonder if there's someone who can do both really well.

  2. Haha, that's pretty much the exact same for me. Paper, yes. Aloud, nope. :) Hopefully I'll learn!


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