Storytelling is as old as man himself. There were storytellers sitting in a cave in the dark of deepest winter, weaving a tale so vivid the youngsters could feel the heat of summer’s sun while they huddled, shivering in their furs and skins, staring into the fire’s flames and seeing ghosts mammoths and the gods of the beginning legend. The storytellers would be the medicine man or wise woman who was the holder of the legends and beliefs of the clan or tribe. Their history was oral, passed down from mother to daughter or father to son.
Writing as art, as something other than the tallying of bushels of grain or pieces of gold came much later. The first writings were pictographs on the walls of caves and later the hieroglyphics of the pyramids and temples. The first writings were just as much artwork as writing as such. Papyrus made writing available for all. The loss of the Library of Alexandria was the greatest loss to man.
Today, there are storytellers and there are writers. For a lucky few, the two halves are present in the same person. But, usually, a great storyteller is just a good writer and a great writer may just be an okay storyteller.
Sometimes we wonder why a ‘just okay’ book becomes an amazing success. Sometimes it is because the author is just an okay writer, but they are an astounding storyteller. They pull you into the story. You are there. You are on an adventure with the hero. You are falling in love with the main character. For a moment in time, you are THERE.
Sometimes we wonder why a well-written book doesn’t “hit.” The sentences are works of art. We feel the story in our heart. But we don’t LIVE the story. The writer has not been a storyteller. They do not pull us in deep enough. It doesn’t strike that elusive chord that is needed to define a “great story.”
What book pulled you inside and didn’t let you go until the last page? What story did you miss when it was done?