Jan 29, 2012

Storytellers.

Storytellers have been around since the dawn of time. Whether they daubed their tales on cave walls or passed on family histories around fires, the Storytellers have long been highly valued in society. The ability to talk or write and relate information is no longer rare in society. However, the ability to weave such wondrous tales that they inspire the listener to greatness, or draw such dread as to have them worry a sleepless night away, is rare indeed.

Without readers though, none of it matters.

Civilizations have become extinct and their languages along with them, leaving information and stories behind that we may never understand. Without the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian hieroglyphics would just be a collection of pictures carved into stone and a whole aspect of a mighty Empire may have remained a mystery to us.

An unread book is no better than a fly swatter if there is no-one who will read it. And if you're not speaking in the language of your readers; if readers require a Rosetta Stone to translate your work, you don't have a story worth hearing or reading. At least not now. Perhaps some future archaeologists will dig it up and figure it out.

I don't believe that a story should be written purely to satisfy a fixed set of criteria for a readership, but without readers you are just someone who writes and your writing is only for you. If you want your writing to be admired, appreciated, loved; if you want it simply to be read then you have to understand what your readers want. Sure, you write for yourself and you may write even if no-one ever wants to read your words, but telling stories is as innate as breathing and storytellers need an audience.

I doubt many readers pick up a book wanting to put it back down because its dull or poorly written. I know I don't. Readers want to be given an excuse to turn the page and read into the wee small hours. Readers want to look at the clock and have to calculate how much time they really need for sleep if they could just get to the end of the next chapter. They want to be entertained, scared or whisked away to another world. They want to live vicariously through the eyes of the protagonist and take a break from everything that surrounds them.

As a writer though, the best trick is convincing a reader that the thing they wanted all along is exactly what you gave them. You gave them what they wanted but you also did it on your terms and convinced them to come along for the ride with you.

The good guy always wins in the end, right? So why do readers continue to pick up books and read stories if they know where it's going to end up?

To borrow a well worn quote: It's not the destination, it's the journey.

Make the journey interesting and readers will follow your tales. Use your own voice and you will present readers with something original. In turn, they will reward you by reading it, talking about it, spreading the word and raising you up to that most exalted place: Storyteller.



GSY

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful post Gareth! I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. I read to escape and (you made me laugh) I check the clock too. Some books are so good you only stop reading when your eyes involuntarily close. I love a page-turner and hope that any books I eventually get out there are too. :)

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  2. Now this is a Post that i like !!! Very well dane Gus .
    As a reader i have to say that you have right to almost everything about what we readers want.
    Yes some of us read to gateway or escape (as Dionne said)for a few hours or more LOL like me ,but eventually we all want the same thing to enjoy our self with a very good read.For me the clock it doesn't matter so much cause i just don't look at it (the clock is always a bad thing)...
    thank you Gus for a very good read .....Staury

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