How to unlock the Writer hiding in a Storyteller

Do you need to convert a story to the written word?

Tried and failed? Why didn’t your story didn’t convert?

I bet at some time in your life, you’ve enjoyed telling a good yarn. Whether it’s around a campfire, the bed of a toddler, or long-winded joke with coworkers. The ability to tell a good story doesn’t always make a good writer.

When my children were very small, I would make up stories to distract them. I’d let them contribute by adding characters. When a long walk became boring or tiring for there little legs, the walk became a safari searching for animals behind trees and tall weeds. Long car drives became guessing games that could evolve into a story.  They never wondered why a giraffe was eating a neighbor’s yard eating leaves. They never questioned that lions weren’t native to the USA. 

Those were special moments when they listened in rapt awe to everything I said, too bad those years were short.

Why does a story not automatically translate with ease on to the written page?

It was this big!

I’m an animated talker. I can’t talk without my hands much less tell a good story without hand gestures, facial gyrations or even moving about. My voice rising with the action and softens with the tension. This makes it easy to convey to the listener what happened in the story.

However, all of that movement isn’t easy to put into words without exhausting the reader and losing their interest.

After reading a great article 6 Key Differences Between Storytelling and Writing by Gordon Long a few things about writing clicked into place for me.

What clicked?

  • Storytellers are performers.
    • We pace, wave, laugh and do all kind of gestures when telling a story.
  • It’s called telling a story for a reason.
    • Telling rather than showing doesn’t translate well. Readers what to see the action.
  • A storyteller peppers the story with adverbs. And we writers know all about adverbs.
  • A storyteller head hops and it works because he can act out each character. Head hopping is harder for a writer.
  • A writer must be more direct with dialog.
  • Unlike a writer, the storyteller is stuck with chronological order.

Most of all, Gordon Long points out that a storyteller is allowed to tell, a writer must show.

Be sure and click on his link and read his in-depth post to improve your writing.

6 Key Differences Between Storytelling and Writing by Gordon Long

Okay, tell me what you think.

Are you a better storyteller than a writer?

Does any of Mr. Long’s tips resonate with you?





How to write the best opening scene?

How much action is too much?

Writing action in a story isn’t always easy.

At least not for me. Because I’m currently struggling with this very thing. The first couple of chapters have to be right or I can’t move on. I go back and forth trying to get that balance just right.

Writing the balance between action and story in those first few chapters is crucial to hooking a reader. Too much action and I risk exhaustion, too little and I may bore the reader to death.

So where does a story really begin?

I recently read a great article about starting at the true beginning of a story.

“When you are looking for your story’s true beginning, look for the first event that changed your character’s path.” 

Ms. Keller reminds us that we need to connect dots with a change to move our story forward.

Great advice for this writer.

So, seems I need to find the catalyst that changed things for my protagonist and start there. Link events with other changes to propel the story forward. Hmmm. This may be doable.

After I read her article a couple more times or maybe six, maybe I’ll get it. LOL

Click on the link to Ms. Keller’s post below and see what you think.

Opening Action: how to make it work By M.L. Keller

Are her tips helpful to find the true beginning of your story?

Do you think it’s important to write action in the beginning?

Are you guilty of writing too much backstory too soon?

Got any tips for writing a terrific first chapter?

Please share your thoughts!



Do you want to know your writing type?

What is your writing process? How do you begin?

Do you envision the story in pictures?

Search for answers to questions inquiring minds want to know?

Do you brainstorm? Grab a subject, topic or character and launch the story from there.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones and already know the answer. But until recently I wasn’t sure how or where I got my story ideas. Thanks to one of my readers Eva Blaskovic, another visual writer for a reminder.

For me sometimes it starts with a question or a topic but then it grows and percolates like good coffee until I begin to see scenes in my head. Sort of like snapshots of movies.

image source

Often late at night these pictures flash in my head and keep me awake until I draft it on paper. Hmm, maybe that is a haunting.

However, putting visual scenes into a readable format is not easy. After all, no one is a mind reader and showing people what you see is difficult.

I start out all excited and write like crazy trying to capture the people, action, and dialogue before my vision vanishes like smoke. Then I read what I wrote. Geese, it sounds nothing like it looked. Delete, delete, delete!  My mind can be a scary place.

But I at least I don’t give up because the movie in my head replays until I get it inside my computer. Yep, sounding more and more like a haunting.spirit-1887125_640

One thing that helps, in addition to practice, is understanding myself and my process.

I am so grateful to the many writers who share their process, successes, and failures so that I might continue to learn. Although many of the articles are same song different verse, it pays to keep reading.

You may think you’ve read enough about grammar, genre, style, flash-fiction, outlines, or any other writing subject. But I seem to always find a nugget or two that helps.

Why? Because just like snowflakes, all writers are unique as is their viewpoint. That’s why I keep reading and sharing my finds. Such as the article below by Tarah Benner.

What did I learn from her quiz?

  • I grab a subject and go nuts. No one wants to read rambling.
  • Although I love to tell a good story, sometimes my writing is too minimalistic. People can’t read my mind or see what I see.
  •  I read for two reasons. For pleasure and to be informed. And that’s good. Yay!
  • Grammar is why I need a good editor. LOL
  • I can’t tell a joke to save my life so no point in trying to write one either. Swearing is my second language but not always in a story. Be selective.

While her article and quiz didn’t fix my problems, it did give me a little insight into some of my strengths and weaknesses. I fall somewhere between a rule follower and a rule breaker. Nothing new, just a good reminder to…

Be true to myself and my style.

Do you find nuggets that inspire, when reading other writers?

Do you need the occasional reminder to be true to yourself?

Do you understand your style?

Don’t forget to click and read the article by TARAH BENNER at the bottom of the page.

I love comments, so leave me one. 

Go here to “like” my Facebook page. Facebook at jeanswriting To connect with me, click the “write me” tab or follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

Please remember to share this post with your Twitter  peeps and Facebook fans.

Quiz: What Type of Writer Are You? (And How to Make It Work for Your Content) BY TARAH BENNER