Are You A Better Writer Or Storyteller?

Yes, yes I know these are basically one and the same, but before you start throwing things let me explain.  I’ve always felt that one of my strengths is coming up with great story arcs or unique story ideas.  The only problem is that some of the ideas I put on the back-burner because I don’t believe my writing is strong enough to do the story justice.  I think it is akin to giving a great artist crayons and watching what he comes up with.  Sure he might be able to rise above the limitations handed to him and create something great, but just imagine what he could have done if he’d had adequate supplies.

I believe that during college my writing was….full of enthusiasm.  In the years since I think I still have some glaring weaknesses but I’m starting to bring it all together.  There are stories now that I believe I could tell that I know I would not have been able to just a few years ago.  With that said there are others that are securely on the back-burner until such a time that I can bring them to life in the fashion they deserve.

So what about yourselves?  Do you feel that your writing is limiting your stories or even vice versa?  If not was there ever a time it did & how in the world did you overcome it?



Filed under Writing

15 responses to “Are You A Better Writer Or Storyteller?

  1. I stepped away from Writing for about 4 1/2 years, prior to that I had Written One Complete Screenplay, and felt that what helped my Writing the most was the fact that I put hundreds of hours into Re-Editing it over and over again. At the end, I didn’t feel my skills were all that great, but they definitely had grown from all the hours poured in. I began my Blog The Written Word in the middle of August, and have been Posting like a mad man, in order to get my Skills at Writing back up, as well as get some feedback from people in regards to content. This site Varies in Material, from Editorials, to Blog Series, to Movie Reviews Etc.

    I know what you are talking about, as I too have many Story Ideas on the back burner that I may, or may not be ready to Write, skill wise… However I did pick up a Novel Idea that I had Created when I was just Eleven or Twelve years old, as I thought it might be a good place to start… You can find it here on a Second Blog that I created as a place to work on it, as well as invited Guest Writers to Write their own pieces… The site is Called “One Knight”, and my Story is also called “One Knight” Here I am testing my Skills as they are on this Youth-hood Novel Concept.

    I currently also have Two Guest Writers testing their hands at Creative Writing, as their individual Sites are much different than the material they’re Posting on this Site. I call my Guest Writers as well as myself “Writers of the Realm” But basically I think/feel that we are all experiencing a bit of what you are talking about, and are testing/practicing our skills here.

    I am happy with some of my skills, as I believe my Strength is in Dialog, and Story Concepts, but I am working on the ability of Fleshing Material out, as before this I was working on Screenplays which are primarily Dialog, with minimal descriptions.


  2. I feel much more a writer than I am a storyteller.

    Some people can spin their trip to the grocery store into the greatest yarns in the history of grocery-store-releated yarns. Verbally, I would butcher the tale. Writing it… it would be a very well-written piece of butchery.

    I blame the reality of it all. I’m far more comfortable elaborating on fiction than nonfiction, and I do best with time to edit. …Unless all we’re going for is slapstick wit; I think my tongue can mostly handle that much.

    That being said, I can think of at least one story I’ve held off on writing because I don’t yet feel prepared to do it justice; so with that much, I can empathize. Hopefully in the next year or so?…

  3. Great question! This is definitely something that I often feel. There are ideas I have that I just don’t think I’m ready to write yet. Though sometimes I feel like I should just try. It’s a battle, and I’m glad you brought it up.

    I guess I’m hoping that when I do finally get some of these stories down I’ll be like. “Wow, I’m really glad I waited to write this.” Or maybe I’ll be like, “Dang, I should have written this sooner.” Haha.

    Anyway, thanks for posing the question! I think it will be relevant to most writers.

  4. Marcie Hill

    It’s interesting you should write this at a time I am questioning my writing abilities. I am a good writer, but I think I need a few lessons in story telling. I am going to attend a story telling workshop in NY given by Narativ. I am also going to attend a digital story telling workshop. I know my skills will explode once I get that under that under my belt. I can’t wait because I will transfer those skills to the students I’m teaching.

  5. Wow! This spoke to me as well. I think I often question my own writing because I enjoy reading so much. That’s what brought me back in the first place. I’m trying to write the stories that I would like to read, and yet I don’t want to fall into the same “traps” that I’ve read time and time again. It’s difficult to balance it all. Great dialog, descriptive scenes, an interesting plot, plus all the grammar stuff…I often worry that I’m not doing my stories justice. I don’t know what the answer is. I just keep writing and reading. I know my writing isn’t as good as some, but better than others. I’ve looked back at some of my writing and thought, “Where’d that come from? This is pretty good!” I’ve also looked back at some of my stuff and thought, “Whoa! This is crap!” Time seems to help me be more objective of my own work. Some of my best writing is taken from my own life. That’s not to say that I’ve gone through everything that my characters have gone through, but when I’m writing about death, I think of my own loved ones that have passed on. When I write about relationships, I think of my own relationships. I like flaws in my characters because I am flawed and so are the people around me. I like quirky details because they’re fun.

  6. I can relate, too. If we were to sit around a campfire, each with a flashlight to our chins, and told each other scary stories….no one would be scared when it came around to my turn. I’d probably just stutter a few times, maybe giggle because I’m nervous and feel stupid, then just crack a mediocre joke or try to quickly tell one of Alvin Schwartz’s stories and hope no one recognizes where it’s from. Pretty lame, eh?

    But let me go inside and churn a few paragraphs out on my laptop, and maybe (I’m not making any promises) I’ll have you looking over your shoulder!

    So with that, I think I am better at storytelling on the page, rather than verbally. As for which I think I am better at…I’d say I’m a better writer. Because you may think my scary story sucks, or just isn’t scary at all, but I promise you it will be well written, all (unless I miss one!) grammatical errors in check.

    The novel that I am currently working on is an example of this. As it grows and grows into this monstrous thing, it’s starting to intimidate me; at times I feel as though I can’t keep up with the story it’s trying to tell, but I am sure to use plenty of detail and make sure everything remains clean and precise. But I have put it on the back-burner while I complete another short story, so I can have some time to breathe and think about where it’s all going to end up.

    So yes, when I’m not sure I can tell a story as well as it should be told, I let it go for a little while. But if your writer brain keeps nagging at you to tell it, I’d just go for it and edit, edit, edit until it seems that it was worth it!

  7. Anabelle

    I know I’m a good writer but I can never seem to come up with viable stories.

    I’ve studied literature for years and yet I don’t think I know how a story is structured. Blame the lack of narratology training I suppose…

  8. Good questions! I’ve experienced both.

    My stories were too raw for me to write them without sounding like a whining victim and there was a time when I was afraid to write my stories because I didn’t have a clear handle on the voice I wanted to use to tell them with. And people think writing is just a matter of having the proper tools and sitting your butt down…

  9. I think that, in most cases, people start out with better ideas than the technique to convey them. The only solution to that is to keep on writing. Only by writing (and reading) can technique be improved. Time is on your side, if you keep on writing.

  10. Great post and great question! I think I have both in me, but sometimes it seems like my good writing hits when the good storyteller is taking a nap and vice versa.

  11. I definitely feel like a better writer than storyteller, but I’m getting better about bridging the gap bit by bit. Or . . . the storyteller in me likes to imagine that’s so, in any event!

  12. Janece

    Hey there 🙂 Thanks for stopping by this morning…glad to be reading you here!

    I’m both a storyteller and a writer. One (a writer) is a little more antiseptic than the other (storyteller). For instance, I write ALL day long for work, on topics that I have very little passion about. But my personal writing involves telling stories – some factual, some fictional.

    It seems to me, however, that being a good story teller is more important because it’s the heart and soul of a great piece of work. Good ‘writing” is more technical, and can be taught. You just can’t teach a person ‘soul’ 🙂

  13. Not sure what I am, but I suspect the magic’s in being both.

  14. Great post! Love it!
    But yes, I do feel like my writing is limiting my stories. I have a story I have been working on on and off since I was 19. I’m now 23 and still not ready for it. It’ frustrating really!

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