January 25, 2010

Writing versus storytelling

There are two parts to writing fiction: the words and the story.

For me, the words come easy. This is my forte. I was that kid in college who could crank out a 12-page research paper in the 12 hours before class and still get an A-. I once wrote a 50-page script the night before the due date and received a 95 on it.

It is the story that makes me pause. You see, my anti-forte (a new word, perhaps, Mr. Webster?) is storytelling.

Storytelling is what keeps people interested. Very rarely will you hear a person rave about the high quality of writing in a favorite work. What they will rave about is the relatable characters, the immersive world, the detailed mythology, the emotional response.

Storytelling is what compels a person to recommend a book to their friends. It is what makes a reader buy an author's work year after year.

Storytelling is what makes me reread GONE WITH THE WIND and HARRY POTTER again and again when other books are shelved permanently after one read. 

Each writer's journey is different. Some struggle to compose clean prose while others bang their heads against the wall as they attempt to craft a tight, engaging plot.

Luckily, both skills can be learned. Some people are innately inclined to one or the other, but either can be mastered through hard work and dedication.

Currently, the beginning and end of my book sit in a bizarre second act-induced purgatory. I have three chapters smack dab in the middle of my book that are suffering from a big ol' plot hole, and how I decide to fix this affects what happens in the end (and maybe even the beginning).

I have no idea how to fix it.

But I'm brainstorming. I'll overcome this obstacle just like I did all the others that got in the way of me being where I currently am with my book.

Until then, I just gotta keep reading, writing and...

[Cue music from PINKY AND THE BRAIN]




Candice said...

I love your drawings!! While some struggle with a story, others will struggle with the words. I have a very big imagination and in my dreams I have all kinds of stories happen, but ask me to put in words, and it's like my brain just disappears. I actually think that being able to write the words is really important, because eventually you will get the story, but the words is a gift in my opinion.

Heidi said...

I think I am more of a storyteller. I love the story, but it sucks to have to write it because I don't think I can find the right words.

Abby Stevens said...

Thanks, Nan! :-) I figured I'd put my drawing abilities to good use, though my stuff is nothing in comparison to the person who commented after you (Heidi). I know you do have a very big imagination... probably even moreso than mine, although you don't let it get the better of you like I do!

Heidi - I think the writing versus storytelling thing is kind of like curly versus straight - everyone who has curly hair wants straight hair, and everyone who has straight hair wants curly hair. I WISH it were as easy to figure out my plot as it is to just let my fingers fly across the keyboard.

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