Writing versus Storytelling

Most writers assume writing is storytelling when, in actuality, writing and storytelling are two separate crafts. I’ve noticed most authors are either one or the other but rarely both. For instance, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Rick Riordan are exceptional storytellers but average writers. April Genevieve Tucholke, Maggie Stiefvater, and Tahereh Mafi, on the other hand, are outstanding writers but average storytellers.

To break this down, we have to break down the elements of storytelling:

  1. Pacing
  2. Conflict
  3. Tension
  4. Story arc(s)

All of these things are comprised of:

  1. Action
  2. Dialogue
  3. Description
  4. Narrative

These components of storytelling have nothing to do with ideas, wording, and language; these elements are, indeed, the foundations of all stories. A story cannot exist without narrative, dialogue, action, and description, and those components affect pacing, conflict, tension, and ARCs.

For balanced storytelling, here’re some things you can work with:

  • Conflict versus tension
  • Action versus narrative
  • Narrative versus description
  • Description versus dialogue

The elements of writing are:

  1. Grammar
  2. Syntax

They are separate from storytelling. For example, you need to learn proper grammar and syntax for any type of writing (business letters, essays, journalism, educational texts, etc.) not just creative writing.

Knowing these are separate crafts will help you master them accordingly.