Tag Archives: telling



Anyone can author a book. Not everyone can be a storyteller.

Have you ever listened to someone tell a story and think, “Man, that had all of the elements of a great story, but something just didn’t hit home”? Or have you ever listened to someone tell a story, but you found yourself filling in the details? These are two instances that the person telling the story was not, at that particular instance, being a good storyteller.

Were they telling a story? Sure. But were they being a storyteller? Not exactly.

Here’s an example:

1) There were two children, and one of them ended up getting kidnapped. It was pretty sad.

2) A boy of eight and his younger sister drifted away from their parents at the supermarket. No sooner had they left their mother’s side did a nondescript man of no less than forty invite the two of them to follow him to his car with promises of treats. The boy and his sister were never seen again.

Number 1 is just facts. Something you hear and shrug off. Number 2 gives those facts texture. It lets you put the children in a situation where the reader sees danger coming but can do nothing about it.

What happens with many authors is that they have a tendency to want to finish the story rather than tell the story. Having facts and events and emotions doesn’t make a story. Stories need movement and transition and momentum, kind of like pistons in an engine. Slowly they build and build until there’s a fluid motion.

It’s not enough that your hero came from rags, found a sword, and now must save the world. There needs to be texture to it.

Here’s another example.

1) The hero found a sword and he went to save the world.

2) Stout-hearted Hayden reached down and wrenched Excalibur from the stone. “If this is what I must do, then let it be done with honor.”

The two statements are saying the same thing, but one of them tells the progression of facts, as a reporter does with the news, and the other lets the motions of the character tell the story.

“Motions of the character tell the story.”

Let me reiterate that point. A good storyteller is able to tell a story…without telling a story. What the heck does that mean? It means that the characters are experiencing the story which allows the story to be told.

Look at the example above. One tells you that the hero found the sword. Two lets you see the hero find the sword and understand what he realizes he must do with the sword.

You’ve heard of the “show, don’t tell” adage. Well, this is what this is. Telling is reporting. Showing is storytelling. And if we want to be appreciated as authors, we in effect, cannot be authors. We must be storytellers! Story is King.