Today’s post leads on from my post last week about the 5 essential things I look for in a book. You see, when I was writing it I realised that the one thing I didn’t mention was the writing, and I know to a lot of people the writing is the most important thing.
It got me thinking about this week’s topic – which is: is there a difference between being a writer and a storyteller? And if there is, what does that mean?
You see, I firmly believe that there is a difference. That’s not to say that a writer cannot be a storyteller or vice versa, but I believe that as authors we all have our particular strengths and that it can be important to know your strengths and embrace them.
For example. I am a storyteller. That is not to say that I am a bad writer, but the focus when I am crafting a story is not in the words themselves, but the story they tell. My emphasis is all on plot and character. I write like that because that’s what I love to read. I love books with engaging characters and wonderfully inventive plots, and if the writing isn’t the best I can ignore it as long as the story sweeps me along.
A very good friend of mine is a writer through and through. For him the joy comes not from telling the story as such, but in finding the perfect words to describe it. He likes playing with the flow and ebb of language, poetry and elegance in his writing. And again, this is reflected in the type of books he reads.
Once we tried to swap book recommendations. It didn’t work. We have some common ground between the two where great storytelling combines with great writing, but for the most part we enjoy different things. And there is nothing wrong with that. And the fact that we still have long and endless conversations about writing and books suggests that whilst taste in books is subjective, the love for it is not.
My point is that whilst we may fall into one or other category that doesn’t mean we cannot strive to find that middle ground between the two. So below are my tips for writers on both sides of the fence.
· Don’t rush it. If you’re anything like me you can be so eager to get the story down that you forget about the writing. Slow it down and really think sometimes about the language you’re using.
· Embrace the fact that you tell an amazing story, but remember that even readers like me will reach the DNF point if the writing is too bad. Edit, edit, edit, and polish like crazy.
· Conversely, remember what you’re good at. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in worrying about the writing. Focus on your strength and crafting an amazing plot and story.
· Think about the bigger picture. Those words you’re crafting are stunning, but the reader won’t read them if they don’t care about the characters they are trying to depict.
· Watch out for overwriting or purple prose. Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the poetry and beauty of language and not realise you’re over doing it. If it take you two pages to tell me what time it is, I’m going to lose interest.
· Remember what you’re good at. Keep your plots simple and focus on drawing us in with your words and your characters.
So go forth and write many books. And don’t worry that perhaps you’re not as good at one thing or the other. Embrace your strengths and work on your weaknesses.