Saturday, April 21, 2012

S for Storyteller

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! You can visit the Home Page HERE.

As writers, we are privileged to be a part of the grand group of historians known as storytellers. Since the advent of the pencil and before, this occupation has tickled the senses of the hearer and reader with all kinds of prose and proverb.

History of Storytelling
Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and to instill moral values. The crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and the narrative point of view.

The earliest forms of storytelling were primarily oral and with the advent of writing, stories were transcribed and shared over wide regions. Stories have been carved, scratched, painted, printed or inked onto all manner of medium, from pottery to other textiles and also recorded on film or stored electromagnetically in digital form.

Modern storytelling has extended from the traditional forms (fairy tales, folk tales, mythology, legends, fables, etc.), to representing history, personal narrative, political commentary and evolving cultural norms and educational objectives.

All that said, how does that affect you as a writer?
Your story, in whatever genre it is written in, is a commentary to the reader on something. Whether it is fact or fiction, believable or fairy tale, your reader is expecting to find something of you in the story. Even if your story is non-fiction, your reader wants to find the truth in the lines that tell him what is real and acceptable.
As writers, we make a contract of expectation with our readers in the very first sentence. And by the end of the first paragraph, the reader has decided whether or not to accept that contract and read your story. By presenting the reader with a plot, characters and POV, you can tell your story and entertain your reader and fulfill that contract.
Be the writer and tell your story. It will continue on in the great tradition of all those that have come before you.


  1. "As writers, we make a contract of expectation with our readers in the very first sentence."

    What a fascinating way of describing it! And you are right about readers making a fast decision... I'm picky about what I spend my time on reading, and am sometimes too quick to decide whether or not to "accept the contract."

    Then again, there's been a few times I hung in there, hoping for it to improve, only to later say "Hey, breach of contract!"

    Loved this post.

    1. Rettakat: Thank you! As writers, our job is to present a story inside a genre, with detailed characters and a certain point of view. We present the beginning "hook" to the reader, telling them this is what the story will be about. Deviations from the initial presentation can disappoint the reader and cause them to lose interest (or, as you say: "breach or contract!"). That's why it has been tagged a "contract".

  2. I agree with Rettakat. That was an excellent description.

    It is humbling, when we look back and realize that we are part of a group since even before the Epic of Gilgamesh was written, back before upright man ventured to draw stories on cave walls. We are the most evolved tradition of telling stories around a village fire.

    Yes...storytellers... Nice post, Karen! :-)

    1. Teresa: Yes, it is very humbling to think of all the storytellers that have gone before this generation. And it seems that now, there are more people writing than ever before. A publisher has to wade through an enormous amount of manuscripts in order to find the gems. The tradition must continue!