Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Writing vs. Good Storytelling

In last Friday's post, I referred to the difference between good writing and good story telling.

A lot of people will say that an adverb riddled, dialog tag filled piece of work is bad writing. Now, while I know the rules, and do believe they should be followed to an extent, I can't say I completely agree with this statement.

If the story is compelling, the characters believable, the arguments strong enough, I find I'll overlook the "bad" writing, because the important thing--the story--is there.

I want to compare this to watching a movie. Sometimes you leave a movie feeling fulfilled and satisfied, having just watched an epic film that will stay with you for weeks. A good book should do the same. You would never leave a movie saying it wasn't well written, you would say that the "storyline" had potential, but they didn't fully develop it.

The difference with a movie is that you're watching the event play out in real time in front of you. In books, a good and well told story will play out in your mind in the same way, regardless of how it's written.

I think everyone can learn how to write well, but being able to create and tell a strong and masterful story... this is a gift. Some people are naturally born storytellers, but those people don't always turn out to be writers. This works in the opposite too.

In my honest opinion, it's all about balance, and that is something we can all learn. A good book should be able to move you, whether it's through the phenomenal writing, or the engaging storytelling, or best of all, a little bit of both. We all obviously have a story to tell, otherwise we wouldn't be writing.

I think in the end, we're all trying, and we're all learning, and this determination and perseverance will make each one of us winners.

What about you? What is the difference between good story telling and good writing? Is there a difference, or do they go hand in hand?

******AND please be sure to check back tomorrow, yes, TOMORROW, for an unscheduled posting and a very special announcement... and NO, I'm not telling you what it is... you'll just have to come back and see ;)******


Misha said...

So true.

Many people can write, but whether they have a story worth reading is an open question.

Can't wait for the news!


Melissa Gill said...

for me a good book has to be a combination of good writing and good story telling. I recently read a book that had great voice and excellent prose, but the story telling was aweful. It was a mystery and the killer was so obvious, the red herrings were obvious, and she didn't reveal the real solution to the main mystery. It just sucked. But more often, I see good story that's bogged down by lousy writing.

Colene Murphy said...

So true! Great post and explanation for the difference.

Jan Cline said...

I think that the proof of a good story is the emotion it evokes. I know if a story makes me mad, cry, sigh or happy I'm much more apt to remember it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A good book plays out like a movie in my head as well.

Often I see great writing but a poor story.

Melissa said...

This is so true. Storytelling is way different and personally, the part I love. I don't particularly enjoy writing. Maybe that's bad but it stresses me out. When I am telling my story though, when I lose myself in it... I experience emotion in a way I can't in real life. It's magical. I hope at least a pinch of that transcends to others when they read my book.

Jai Joshi said...

I do agree that someone can learn how to write but not necessarily learn how to be a good storyteller.

Storytelling is about having a connection with the audience/reader/viewer/listener. A good storyteller knows what the reader/audience wants from the story and is able to provide that. I don't think this can be learned like someone can learn how to write.


Holly Ruggiero said...

It's great when they go hand and hand but they don't always do this.

The Red Angel said...

I agree with you in that people who are good storytellers are most often born that need the passion and talent to be able to be a good storyteller. :) I also agree that good writing can be achieved through lots of practice and studying grammar rules!

Good writing + good storytelling = one heck of a good piece of literary work!!!


Jemi Fraser said...

That's quite the teaser! Can't wait to hear the news :)

Good explanation on the story telling vs writing!

Anna Zagar said...

I think good story-telling is more important than good writing. If you've got a great story, then you can learn the mechanics of writing. Before there were books, people TOLD each other stories. The story is most important.

Jolene Perry said...

The Great Gatsby is the book that I always think of when talking about writing versus story telling. The writing is beautiful, so good that I've read the book many times even though I'm not in love with the story.

Anonymous said...

Good storytelling and good writing go hand in hand really.

If there's a good story, but bad writing, then the only thing keeping the reader going is the story's potential. However, that potential won't be met if the writing isn't there.

Similarly, if there's only beautiful writing with flowery language and all that, then where is the story. A writer can have the most beautiful, in depth description about something for ten pages long, but what does have to do with the story?

It's a combination of both that a writer needs to become successful. It is not a choice of to be a successful writer that one needs one or the other, but a combination of both.

Write on!