I’m a Writer; I, of course, can write stories!


Not every good writer is a good storyteller. But a good storyteller has to be a good writer.

t1

Some of you will agree with me, some of you won’t. I’m fine with both. After all, we all are entitled to our opinions. But let me tell you the whys for this strong statement that I have made.

After everything is said and done, in fiction, it all comes down to the story. Does it not? How did the story make you feel?; did it make your heart skip a beat, or made you jump on your feet? And a good story, to be that impactful, has to be executed through good storytelling, and good storytelling has to have been written, if not exceptionally well, then, at least, in a good enough way.

How is a story to be made impactful? How to structure it in a way that all the unveiling is done at the right times?

Answer to the first question lies in the second question. And answer to the second lies in one simple statement; in fact, the answer lies in the question itself – just raise the respective curtains at their appropriate times. Nothing too soon, nothing too late. So many successful novels, that I have read, worked partly due to some other reasons, but mostly due to this right unveiling technique. Oh yes! Let’s name it as ‘Right unveiling’ technique. (I’m not sure if it already has a such name.)

Now, to get it done right, you will find numerous books and essays. I have been through quite a few too. But it all is theoretical. Until and unless you have tried using the technique in your story or any other form of writing, that book or essay as well might have gone unread. And, honestly, it is not much about the techniques, but your natural way of developing a story.

If it were that easy and quick to learn the art of storytelling, everybody would be one, right? But not everybody is, that is right too. There must be something that makes one good at it, and the other not; that makes one its master, and the other to always remain a neophyte. And, here, comes the innate talent and passion for the activity.

Does that mean that it cannot be learnt? Well, not really. I mean you definitely cannot rely on the techniques of storytelling; they are the beautification methods. Learning these techniques is a way of embellishing and garnishing the structure of the story, not learning how to create it.

For most of us, our grandparents have been incredible storytellers.

t2

As a child, they made us meet the fairies and devils, and made us aware of the life’s twists and turns in general. Did they take any Creative Writing programs? And here, I’m not demeaning any of such programs. I myself was meaning to undergo one. But the point here is, they help in making you better; they cannot turn a non-storyteller into a magical storyteller.

Everybody has a story within them, but not everybody can take it out on paper, is said for a reason.

To have a good story is easy, but to prove it a good one is the toughest of all. Sometimes, a good story, with the lack of dexterity the way it’s presented, loses its charm. And sometimes, even a run-of-the-mill story line turns into an unforgettable one.

It all is about the execution. A good execution can turn even a silver to gold, and a bad one can tarnish the gold with all ease.

Eventually, it all boils down to how the story made you feel. And feelings are highly dependent on the execution. In fact, if I am allowed, I’d say it all is about the execution. Yes, it really is.

But then what writing is? Do I mean writing style? Partly, yes. (Here, I have talked about three writing styles that I had learnt about sometime back.) And partly the technicalities of writing. The grammar, you may say. This latter one is the easiest to learn. For it is all about rules, (and, I believe, bit about intuition.) And rules are easiest to follow. When we know one is right, and the other is not, it becomes easier for us to rule out the wrongs. English grammar has always been a dilute subject, more so in the recent times; diluted in a way of having more than one right ways of usages; but that is the case with most of the subjects, right?

As far as writing style is concerned, it is developed overtime, gradually, and naturally. The more you force it, the more it fears to come to you. Let it take its time and come to you when it’s ready.

With all this said, a grammar expert is not necessarily an expert in storytelling too. I do not have to delve deeper into it, as what I mentioned above is self-explanatory. Yet, to suffice, let’s say good grammar and writing technicalities do not equal to good storytelling.

But if the storyteller lacks the required writing skills, it can, and it will, impact the story drastically.

How can a story be successful, if the words forming it, themselves are a failure? If the words fail to express their meaning, how can the meaning of story be imparted?

To make oneself understood, one should be able to express it in a meaningful way; and only when that is done, can we expect the story to work its charm.

Once a storyteller is always a storyteller.
To sum it all up, storytelling is something, as I said before too, innate in some people; they are naturally good at it. But their talent goes underdeveloped and untapped. And why so? Just because they never learn the art of writing. Whatever we have in ourselves must be nursed and given the right direction, otherwise it’ll go untouched and unused, as if it were never there.

And being a good writer isn’t an equivalent to being a good storyteller.

Did any of what I say, made sense to you? Do you agree with the subject-line, the first line of this piece, or highly disagree? Do share your views. Let us learn and grow together.

IF YOU ARE A FIRST- TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers‘. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.

No credit for the images used.
Copyright © 2018 by Idle Muser. All rights reserved.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Simon says:

    I totally know what you’re saying here. I think a lot of the time the big time writers get wrapped up in the writing art and yet it’s all about how the step m story makes your feel at the end of it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Idle Muser says:

      So very right, Simon. Writing style is indeed important, especially in fiction, but the feels it gives you, that is what decides it all for you.
      Thanks for the time and your views.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lynnefisher says:

    Loved this, Aditi! very well thought out. I agree that plot has to be supported by great writing skills, the reading should be enjoyable and draw you in, not just to turn the page to find out what happens. The Da Vinci Code is an example for me of a story with the right hooks and compulsions but I hated the writing style, and yet look how the story carried it to great success. I think this was the first time I was struck by this division of a kind between plot and narrative style and language. And in this case. for me, the writing style spoiled the story. No easy answers as usual!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Thank you, Lynne, for the appreciation and your input.☺️

      By now, I’ve been through quite a few variety of stories that either had been extremely well executed, or had consisted of plot so riveting, or had characterisation so strong, or the combination of above. And each of these books had been equally fruitful, provided they were developed to serve the same purpose.

      Jhumpa Lahiri is the one whose stories’ characters start strengthening their grip around you from the initial chapters on. These stories hardly have a plot with twists and turns. Yet she’s one of the finest storytellers I have read.
      Then there is ‘And then there were none’ by Agatha; this book is all about the plot and execution; writing was simplistic; characterisation not so strong; yet it turned out such an amazeball for me.

      So, yes, all books have different purpose to serve. As long as they serve what they were meant to, they’re good to go.

      I must have been through such books too where writing did spoil my experience, but I cannot recollect any name. Haven’t read Da Vinci Code yet, so cannot comment on it. But have heard a lot of it having an amazing plotline.

      PS- Will reply to the mail today.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Ste J says:

    A great plot, does not a good story make. I think a lot of people focus on the twists of turns of a plot and don’t really bother with their characters as much, that failing leads their book(s) to become less interesting. I love a good twist but if the characters are believable, I am much more invested in the outcome.

    As for the grasp of grammar and an understanding of how to tell a story, I think that that is becoming bogged down of late in poorly executed emotional manipulation of the reader. Tell the story well with good characters and the reader will be moved in whichever way you wish, use cheap tricks to do that and less people will care.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Rightly said, Steve. A plot of a story is as good as its characters. But there are certain stories that are about the plot, and for them, it works fine to not care much about their characters. Christie’s And then there were none is an example.

      If seen figuratively, most of the stories are character-based, yet their writers, at times, either fail to realize it while writing or forget it halfway through the book.
      Twists and turns are the keywords for mystery and thriller. For other kind of stories, they are just an option, not a necessity.

      Language (here, English) has gone for a toss in recent times. I do not want to demean anybody, I’m nobody to do that, but I’ve seen so much of the work floating around with noticeable flaws. And these are basic mistakes I’m talking about. But the owners of those write-ups don’t care, it seems. As, when I check their writing even after months, I see the same, no change or whatsoever.
      I make mistakes too, I know. I learn every single day. But I make efforts in doing so; unfortunately, many do not.
      One doesn’t have to be perfect, or a “grammar-nazi”, but there should, at least, be a clear ground of basics.

      I hope I made sense.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ste J says:

        It is strange when writers write but don’t evolve their style or skill. I would have thought that it would be tougher to.Not do that than even subconsciously learn. I followed one blogger, checked back.months later and the writing hadn’t moved on despite close to 100 posts. It was perplexing.

        That you learn and wish to always perfect your use of language and technique is great and one of the many reasons why I follow your blog.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Idle Muser says:

          I’m humbled, Steve. Really! This means a lot. I will keep on learning and growing, I promise.

          Strange, it definitely is. I don’t know about the situation over there, but here, in India, it has become a fad, if I can call it so, to write in simple language. Not that anything is wrong with that simplicity; I, in fact, adore it. But many of those who are a part of this fad, confuse simple language with ill-usage of grammar and punctuation, the technical stuff you may say, and that is what pricks me. It pricks me so hard.
          Nothing wrong with the beginners, but as you said, those who do not even intend to learn and improve perplex me too.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Ste J says:

            Personally, i don’t see how anybody that writes could stand still with their technique. Maybe it comes from such bloggers gravitating to people of the same style, thus validating their own, rather than spending time with better writers and learning from them. I spent years doing that and am grateful for those writers sticking with my writing.

            I have no worries about you stagnating with your words, you will be writing strongly and stronger all the time and I will be here reading.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, Aditi! I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I’m so sick and tired of people saying, ”Oh, he/she may not be a good writer by he/she is a damn good storyteller.” That’s impossible.

    I’ve noticed that frequently people are so obsessed with plot that the bigger picture is lost due to the erroneous identification between plot and story.

    Plot and subplot do not guarantee a good story that resonates deeply with readers, and that’s because plot refers to a sequence of events. Bit story is much more than that. Story is theme insightfully explored, apt characterization and description that hits the nail on the head. Story is character study. Story is cohesion and coherence and logic leading from one decision and action to the other. Story is psychological background. Story is emotional resonance. Story is the game between denotation and connotation, between straightforward writing and subtext/implication.

    For example, Edgar Allan Poe and Rudyard Kipling knew very well how to write stories. Topnotch storytellers the both of them. Because they understood the importance of language and word choice in order to spin a fine yarn, and most of all, spin it well. They understood that in order for someone to generate a story that can have a profound impact on the reader, it was not only a matter of “what” to write but, most importantly, of “how” to write this “what.”

    They weren’t in the habit of looking down their noses on the most significant tool of their craft: language, like so many writers today who feel so damn pleased with themselves just because they can come up with a plot and think this is a feat.

    To me, it sounds like a case of sour grapes. Writers who can think of an interesting story but their prose suffers usually downplay the importance of language, while writers whose prose is riveting but have difficulty in binding together the threads of their narrative or coming up with a plot usually downplay the importance of storytelling.

    What many writers fail to see or pretend that they don’t see is that good writing doesn’t mean verbal fireworks for the sake of impression or pretty words for the sake of meaningless aesthetics.

    Good writing means effective use of language. Good writing is all about communication. And to communicate effectively, it is not enough to organize our thoughts and ideas and decide on the sequence of major key points in our narrative. Effective communication requires agonizing over our word choices and our syntax. Because it is not only a matter of settling on content. It’s, also, a matter of settling on the best way to express this content in order for our works to have the strongest impact on the readers.

    Effective use of language seduces and draws in. One must bee blind not to see this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Idle Muser says:

      This highly descriptive viewpoint of yours, Lilaia, is full of passion, which I loved, and realizing how much time you must have put into writing this down, amazes me too. So, first of all, a huge thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

      Now to what you’ve said, I second almost each and every single bit of it. Language and storytelling go hand in hand; undervaluing or overvaluing either of the two will impact the overall outcome, which writer might fail to notice but readers won’t.

      Although exceptions are there. And I know, though you haven’t mentioned it here, you’d agree with this too. Say, And then there were none by Agatha Christie- this book is a masterpiece of storytelling. I had read it a year back or so, and, as far as I can remember, I found the language of the whole book simplistic, which is fine. As you said too, good writing isn’t about putting fancy words down for aesthetic’s sake, Christie’s book was full of short and straightforward sentences, nothing sparkly, nothing twinkling; yet the plot and the execution was so riveting that it took my heart away. Even the characterisation was not strong. But it did not matter, because the book wasn’t about characters, it was about the plot. And it served its purpose so damn well.

      So, yes, some books are entirely about plots, especially the mystery ones. For them it’s ok to abandon the characterisation for the plot’s sake. Though only a few books are worth it.

      Take IT by Stephen King. It belongs to horror genre. But anybody who has finished the book would know that IT was much more than horror. The element that makes one finish that monster sized book is neither the horror nor the plot, but the emotional bond that a reader forms with all those kids, those characters. At least that was how it was with me.

      Some books are about plots, while most about characters; language has to be used effectively in both the cases.

      And I loved the whole paragraph about Edgar and Rudyard. I agree with all of it. I recently read few of the short stories by both of them. They’re extremely good.

      I’m so glad I had this discussion with you. Thanks again!
      On a slightly different note, have you read IT or And then there were none?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aditi, thanks for this interesting conversation. To be honest, I haven’t read anything by Agatha Christie. So, I cannot really comment on her writing. Though I feel the need to ask you a question. Was her writing as you called it simplistic or was it merely simple? Because there’s a huge difference between these two. For instance, one of my favourite writers is the Irish Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. If you read his stories like ”Carmilla” and ”The Child that went with the Fairies”, you will realize that his writing is simple. You will not see complexity of sentence structure or fussy style or fancy words. However, that prevent his writing from being eloquent and dreamy. It’s natural and beautiful without being too in your face. That takes talent and skill.

        As for Stephen King, I’ve taken a dislike towads him. I’m a huge fan of vampire fiction. I love the classic stories like ”Carmilla”, ”Dracula”, ”Wake not the Dead”, ”The Tomb of Sarah”, ”For the Blood is the Life”, ”Interview with the Vampire” etc. So, I thought to try King’s ”Salem’s Lot”. The book was a huge disappointment, and I truly lament the money I wasted on bying this book. To say I was bored to death would be an understatement. The writing was bland and uninspired, the style verbose and long-winded, the plot moved even slower than the pace of a snail and the characters were flat and uninteresting. I truly enjoyed the first few pages. They invoked a mysterious atmosphere, but things went downhill from there. King just went on and on and on, presenting the background of each and every single inhabitant of the fictional town. I read about 150 pages and then gave up on the book.

        Somebody will say that I can’t judge a writer by a single book. Maybe they are right. But I don’t think King is the writer for me. I simply cannot stand his writing. I might try another book of his, but he is not at the top of my reading list.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Idle Muser says:

          Here you posed an important question, Lilaia, that whether the writing was simplistic or simple. It was simple. Having words around for quote a while now, I should have known what havoc can two similar-looking words can create, if used interchangeably. Thanks again for pointing out.

          I loved King’s IT. Yes, he is into description, and too much at times. But that is what made IT for me what it is now. Then, again, we all expect different things from different books and stories and writers. Sometimes, we get them, and other times we don’t.

          And just a recommendation- if you want to read a good, fast-paced mystery and thriller, you must read ‘And then there were none’ by Christie.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Prashantt says:

    Hey Aditi! Wonderful post by an amazing storyteller.I am agreeing to your writeup as we all have stories to tell however it not a cup of tea for everyone to present it perfectly, its all about execution of thoughts in sync with impactful language.
    Have a great weekend ahead!☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Ah! Thank you so much, Prashant, for the kind words and your input.🙂
      Yes, the language plays a pivotal role in a story; some overvalue it, some undervalue, only few try to understand the balance that is to be maintained between a language and story.

      How have you been? Long time.

      Like

      1. Prashantt says:

        Hey! Aditi, I am doing great and hoping same for you too.
        It’s always pleasure reading your words & i loved your thoughts on one of your post(I am writer..).
        Keep writing & have a great weekend ahead!☺

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Idle Muser says:

          Yes yes, this is the one (the writer one), I guess, that you’re talking about. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

          Been quite busy lately as I’m on a short vacation; thus, this late response. Ironically, I get busier in vacations; while it should be the other way around. Or maybe I get bit too relaxed and lazier. Anyway, hope you’re having a great time.😃

          Liked by 2 people

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