I came up with a theory that story telling would be a fun way to improve my style and narrative structure in fiction. Does anyone have any experience doing this? Currently, I am making up mostly bed time stories for children and some stories during car trips with adults.

  • They're quite different, aren't they? What works effectively spoken out loud reads as corny on the page.
    – micapam
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 3:56
  • @micapam Yarbut what if I want to write magical realism?
    – Razie Mah
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 4:08
  • For the life of me I cannot tell stories. I can write them just fine but when it comes to making them up on the spot and speaking them out lound I'm stumped; it's too different from the way my mind writes.
    – CLockeWork
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 8:05
  • @RazieMah I don't think it matters. The difference between modes of written fiction is significantly less than between text and orality.
    – micapam
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    What is your question here, exactly? It reads like a question that's asking for everybody's experiences - which is a discussion question, not an answerable question. Is there any way to focus this question more? Commented May 30, 2014 at 5:54

4 Answers 4


All the good writers I know personally are good storytellers. One of my personal aphorisms is that "Man is the animal who tells stories."

A professor I once worked for always told his grad students about "Research by Walking Around." He said, "In your daily life, look at everything like a research project. Ask questions about everything you encounter. That's how you will come up with your thesis."

That's what I do for getting story ideas. I'm always making up stories based on what I've seen and telling them to myself or to others. The good ones I write down for later use.

Writing fiction and nonfiction is the craft of telling a story. Practice your craft as often as you can. Tell stories.


I've attended a writer's workshop and one of the seminars was strictly storytelling; in that sense, it seems the writers hosting the workshop seem to find some value to storytelling.

In terms of improving style: how can a style really be improved? It is the way you write. Storytelling will reinforce your style; when you tell your stories to children, you can pick up the kind of stories you want to tell, and how you want to tell it. You get a better sense of your style.

In terms of narrative structure: when you tell stories vocally repeatedly, you might sometimes notice that "this part" would have more effect if I tell it before "this part"; or, "I should probably do a better set up so the next part has more impact!". Maybe even, "huh, this part really doesn't do anything now that I hear it... and it's boring the kids". It improves narrative structure by allowing you to understand how it flows, and whether you're running on and should probably just end it.

In terms of word usage, writing a story exactly how you tell it will sound corny; but telling stories will help you better understand how each part of the story should sound and fit together.


Storytelling would help improve your writing skills because of two things: Hearing what you're saying, and instant feedback from your audience.

In terms of hearing what you're saying, I think we've all had moments where something that sounded not just well-composed but absolutely masterful in your head ends up sounding contrived or silly when you say it out loud. The disconnect between thinking the words and hearing your voice say them brings clarity and a new perspective in a way that I've found writing doesn't; telling stories will help you develop the skill of analysing your writing in this way without reading every passage out loud - something which, if I'm honest, I still sometimes find necessary.

The biggest benefit I can see, though, is the fact that when telling a story, you can gauge your audience's reaction instantly, not just to the plot, but to smaller things like characters and even words:

It will help your narrative structure; you will quickly learn the degree of tension and progression required to keep the attention of your audience, and, as 'user2738698' said, you will learn a lot about the order and composition of narrative elements.

You didn't mention it in your question, but you will also learn to create compelling characters. Speaking for a character engages part of your brain that simply isn't normally active when you're merely writing about them, a part that is responsible for understanding motive, emotion and growth, which are cornerstones of strong characters. At the same time, you will learn to present only those parts of a character which are necessary for developing their role in the story; unnecessary cruft only weighs down your character if it serves no purpose for the reader.

'user2738698' seems to want to imply that storytelling won't help your word usage, but I disagree. He's totally correct to say that writing a story as you tell it would sound corny; the written word just lacks the subtleties of emphasis and intonation available in the spoken word. But telling stories will teach you the effect a single well-placed word can have on your audience, and after the first few times you've struggled to explain what exactly you meant to a misunderstanding listener, you'll learn the importance of choosing precisely the right word to say what you want to say.

I could go on about the general helpfulness of immediate feedback, but I think you get the idea. The last thing I'd like to mention is that storytelling will teach you to tailor your diction, grammar and plot to your target audience; just don't get stuck in the mindset of a person writing for young children - unless you want that to be your career - just because they're the most likely age group to sit down and listen to a story.


Well, generally it is that "Great story writers are always good at telling stories, too." But I am not sure if its true vice-versa. I have my own reasons for that.

I am a person who loves reading, and fond of writing, too. And my friends used to like my short stories. But when it comes to story telling to the kids, I stammer. (Which story to tell? How well to describe without losing their interest?) These are the two basic issues I always face. And after starting story, I sometimes linger on wrong parts instead of focusing on right part of stories.

So may be its just due to my inability but that's what my experience say.

To become a good writer, you should have

  • Nice imagination power.
  • Knowledge regarding the topic or person or area you choose in story.
  • Little insight of what readers would like

That's just what I think :)

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