Sunday, August 16, 2009
Storyteller or Wordsmith?
Jimmy Stewart reading.
In her book on the history of the Clarion Workshop, Kate Wilhelm provides a lot of great advice on improving writing skills. At one point, she suggest there is a difference between writers who are story tellers and those who are wordsmiths.
Storytellers have a story to tell and are not always mindful enough of how it gets told. I think these are the people who emerge from the oral tradition, who hold forth at parties I go to. Wordsmiths are more interested in getting each word right--the story might not be there at all. Of course, both aspects need to be integrated to succeed at writing. But probably one aspect will always dominate the other.
I know I am a wordsmith. The story emerges as I write most of the time (or sometimes it never does). That's why I strongly prefer editing to writing. I have to force myself to get new sections down and not just reword old ones. What about you?