There's a difference? Yes, according to many people (Nathan Bransford included) there is. And according to the same people, you must be good at both in order to become successful in this business.
That's a difficult statement to handle, isn't it?
I'm writing this post for two reasons: one, my crit partner helped me realize the difference, which in turn helped me understand my own writing. And two, an intern on twitter recently said this:
"If you don't have background in writing—don't write."
A lot of people don’t agree with that statement. I mean, how will you learn to write—and write well—if you DON’T do it?
First, let's talk about the difference between storytelling and writing. Obviously, storytelling is when you tell a great story. To people, to friends, in a funny notebook you carry around. It’s about getting the words out there, making people laugh, cry, smile, whatever.
Wikipedia defines storytelling as: the conveying of events in words, images and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment.
Writing is all that "other" stuff: grammar, tenses—all the jargon about the English language.
Wikipedia says writing is: the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols.
Then there’s the other "writer" stuff: plots, tension, character delineation, backstory, turning points, plot layers, subplots, personal stakes, reversing motives, character dimensions, and so on and so forth.
So, I wrote before I knew anything about "writing". And what a hot mess I had! But does that mean I shouldn't write? Heck no! Not every novelist has a background in English. Not every author has taken a creative writing class. Not every best seller has a "background" in writing.
I even did a little research. There a MANY novelists (famous and not) who didn't even go to college. There are some are who went to college, but not for writing/english. There are even a few high school dropouts. (Google is a wonderful thing)
So what about me? What did I do? I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And then I learned. I got a crit partner (several, actually). I read books. I studied grammar. I did research and practiced my craft. I learned the proper way to write. I have been able to mesh those fabu storytelling skills with some mad writing skills. And hey, it only took me five books to do it!
Do I regret how long it took to figure it out? How hard it was? All the sweat, and crits, and tears?
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Because why do I write? Well, why do you breathe?
I need to. I love to.
I don't care if you don't have a background in writing. That shouldn’t define WHO you are. You must DO in order to succeed. You must learn, write, and grow. Do it.
My name is Justine Dell, and I’m a storyteller.