Storytellers

HubPages is a place for writers, or, people who fancy themselves writers. I don't add that qualifier as a slight against any or some here - I add it in consideration of myself. I like to write, I don't think I'm dreadful or useless at it, but I'm not fully comfortable publicly announcing myself or privately counting myself 'a writer'. However, I do count myself a storyteller. I enjoy sharing stories, I see events and circumstances as stories, and I think stories are very largely the means by which we mature into the people we come to be and how we best express the people we are.

As I said, HubPages is a place for writers - and it doesn't take long to recognize there are, very basically, two types of writers here. There are folks who write about things they think others want to read about, things they research, things that explain 'how to' do things people are interested to do (and that produces a great many hubs on 'how to' write on HubPages and 'how to' make money, etc) - and there are folks who tell stories, whether it's a personal account of some event in their life, a poem, a reflection on an idea, or a flat-out fictional story with made-up characters and situations, etc. Now, please be assured I am in no way advancing either type of writer and manner of writing to be inferior or superior to the other - I am only acknowledging the reality of the clear demarcation of these two kinds of hubs we find here at HubPages.

My own personal attention, is given to storytelling and storytellers. But I must make clear that I count a particular approach to communicating, a specific mode of conversation and writing that is not commonly regarded as storytelling, to in fact be storytelling. To me, there are people who can tell stories and people who cannot, people who use language as a tool to tell you 'the story' of their point or idea or position, etc, and people who simply notify you of their point or idea or position. We see this in all areas of life, not just in direct fictional storytelling.

We all know the person who can make nearly any situation funny in the telling of it, and the person who simply cannot tell a joke . . . a formatted, rehearsed joke, yet they screw it up every time. I recall once asking a church piano player if she ever plays at home just for herself, not practicing for church. I meant like without sheet music, not the same song the same way she's played over and over, but just fiddled around with Boogie Woogie or Blues moods - she said she doesn't and wouldn't know how, that without the direction of a sheet of music in front of her she would have nothing to play. That struck me as very sad, and as illustrative of my point on storytelling; some people just have it in them, they see the world before them in pictures and words that simply appear to them as a story.

Today is the 53rd anniversary of the debut of television's "The Twilight Zone" . . . I recall once when one of my sons stopped by with his (relatively) new bride and, noticing "The Twilight Zone" was on the tv, she mentioned what a great show she thought it was. I ask her what some of her favorite episodes were and she mentioned a few. As I began to ask her if she'd ever seen the one where 'thus & so' or the one with the 'yadda yadda yadda', she asked "What was that one about" . . . my son quickly alerted her "Don't ever let my dad tell you the story of any 'Twilight Zone' episodes, or any movies for that matter". When she asked him why I was delighted to hear him respond "Because he always tells it so much better than it really is, when you finally do watch it you wish you left it as it was, with my dad's story in your head".

The thing is, we have to be careful with storytellers - just because someone is a good storyteller doesn't mean he's right or that he should be acquiesced to or agreed with. As I said, some people are just good storytellers, even if they're not directly telling you a fictional story. We come up against this in nearly all aspects of life. There are employees who are less competent than their fellow employees yet are able to advance themselves above their peers, because they are better storytellers than their fellow employees. There are politicians who are able to persuade voters to support them when their policies go directly against the interests and ethic of those voters, because they are better storytellers than the other candidate. There are husbands and wives who are able to run roughshod over their spouses because they are better storytellers than their spouse.

Understand . . . it's not that they tell stories, as in they don't tell the truth, that's not my point - I'm saying some people are just more apt at using language to share their perspective, to give their side, to provide an account of things, etc. While some stumble and poorly represent themselves and their interests no matter how right they might be, others can make the shallowest point seem significant, they can make the thinnest argument appear valid - they are good storytellers . . . not good at making things up, but good at telling their story, good at recounting a circumstance vividly, good at presenting their case persuasively.

So, while you may have initially thought this hub an accolade to the storytellers, in truth it is a caution - delight in the storyteller's capacity to make things interesting, but be alert to the objective truth behind a person's deficiency, or their gifted ability, in articulating things.

Please do visit some of my other hubs ~

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Comments 24 comments

LABrashear profile image

LABrashear 4 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

There is a definite difference between a "writer" and a storyteller. I love that you point that out as a cautionary tale. I would agree that there is a definite ability/talent for being a truly great one. At this point, I try to not label myself at all, but merely continue to practice, practice, practice with hopes of someday having a resemblance of a writer or storyteller. Voted up!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Gee, Mickey, that was off the wall. But that is what distinguishes a story teller from a fact slayer. Tell me a story, Uncle Mickey! I miss your blues hubs.......


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

What a lovely compliment! And coming from one's child, so much more delightful - "Because he always tells it so much better than it really is, when you finally do watch it you wish you left it as it was, with my dad's story in your head".

I agree with Laura, all storytellers are not writers and all writers are not storytellers. Many reporters/journalists remind me of musicians not able to make music by ear. They are word/note technicians, knowing exactly what belongs where.

And I agree with you, Mickey. I know I am a storyteller, able to tell (and write) about anything in such a way that people can FEEL themselves in my shoes, experiencing my joy/pain/distress/whatever. But this doesn't mean that the emotions of my less expressive siblings/friends/enemies are less overwhelming and/or painful.

Therefore we have to develop our senses in order to feel the vibes of our fellowman - the energy coming from their positive and/or negative thoughts and feelings. Reading 'into' the writings of writers - between the lines - is also an art to be mastered - a dangerous art, as we can easily interpret what we hear and read wrong. We can but only perceive what we already know and understand.

Excellent reasoning, Mickey! Short and sweet, but legato - the way good storytellers keep the attention of their audience.

Voted up and awesome!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

LABrashear ~ thanks so much for your favorable review and your vote up, I do appreciate it.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

You know this hub reminded me of a story...

Tell your thang, Mickey...spin that top!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Mickey.....I could read and enjoy any and all your stories. You write so damned well....interesting..entertaining. I simply like the way you tell your stories. ...UP+++


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

bravewarrior ~ I've been thinking about doing a hub on all the old Blues songs that contemporary (like from the 60's on) bands have covered . . . songs many of us are familiar with, but might not know the original recording.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting. I think every person has a story to tell it just depends on who can relate it well and who can't. I think you are a great storyteller because you capture interest right from the start. I used to like the Twilight Zone episodes. Now that you reminded me of the show I'll take a look at what is available on YouTube. Passing this on.


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

Most interesting and definitely attention grabber, you have made your point by your own telling style! Was that a pun? :) But I loved it...reaching to a deductive conclusion that I least expected. There is a lot of food for thought; a lot of time we miss this point of expert story-telling in the various spheres of life. Particularly relevant are the concerns of the story-telling in the political arena- whether that is USA or India. Voted up and sharing it.


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Mickey

I never thought of the differences between a good writer and a good story teller. I think a good story teller can write on any topic and make it interesting rather than those who's writing is based on just research and facts.

Voted up and interesting

Have a good day.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Really interesting contrasts here. I tend to agree with Sueswan. I seem to tell stories in the poems I write and love to read the stories of others, whether in verse or prose. Up & interesting!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

So well articulated. It is interesting me as a poet, how little of my work is autobiographical. They are impressions, an empathetic statement sometimes, a story at other times. You give us food for thought---now off to read a poem or maybe write one


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

You make some very valid points. It is possible for a natural born story teller to become a good writer, but I think if that gene is missing then even a well trained writer will lack a following. I have this discussion with my youngest with her upper degree in English.

Who are amongst the best writers in the English language, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, storytellers both.

I'd trade any 'book learning' regarding writing for the storytellers gene.

Oh, and thanks for the 'Follow'


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Gypsy ~ "I think every person has a story to tell"

I can't count how many times I've said this . . . in reference to, you are writing your story right now, what do you want it to be, what do you want the story of your life to be because it's happening right now - be the author!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

sen.sush23 ~ "Particularly relevant are the concerns of the story-telling in the political arena"

That was on my mind throughout my writing - sometimes, in many areas of life, those who seem most competent, those advance, are those who are good at telling their story whether 'their story' is a specific circumstance, a particular event, a political view, etc - but the one who is best at telling his story may be best at telling his story but is not necessarily the one who is actually best, as in most competent or the one who should advance.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Sueswan ~ thanks so much for the returning visits and the votes on this one, your attention is much appreciated.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

xstatic ~ "Really interesting" is always something I'm going for, so I very much appreciate your favorable review, and thank you for the votes.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

AudreyHowitt ~ "So well articulated" and "You give us food for thought" . . . you guys are giving me great delight, these are just the things I'm hoping for as I write for HubPages. Thank you so much.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Go for it Mickey. I love your 'blues' hubs!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 3 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

mckbirdbks ~ thanks for the visit and the comment.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

I like that, as I read this marvelous look at what writing IS and what storytelling writing IS, I was nodding my head in sync with your points and examples all through it. As you say, some can tell a story or retell a movie plot or a Twilight episode so vividly, it outshines the original! Some cannot! I have a dear friend who loves to tell me what he's just watched; and he loves the classic stations and re-runs, which I also like. Yet I just wait hopefully for him to run out of his retelling them!

The contrast in the ability to make a story come to life and zing or dazzle and the lack of ability that makes it blah and bland is so very real and apparent!

Your writing is simply of the first type, and it hardly seems to matter what the subjects may be, though, of course, they ring with and from your own interest in those subjects. But even if one doesn't especially share in those interests, your telling just seems to bring them to life! Very good, my friend!


Vickiw 3 years ago

Hi Mickey, I enjoyed this, thought about it, and can't help wondering where I would be placed in your categories? You are a very different kind of writer, no doubt about that, with a gift for the gab, and I also wonder - should we be cautious of you? What do you think?


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 3 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Nellieanna ~ "I was nodding my head in sync with your points and examples all through it"

That's the best - thank you.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 3 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Vickiw ~ "You are a very different kind of writer, no doubt about that"

I'm taking that to be a very good thing . . ?

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