There's a difference between good writing and good storytelling. There are a number of well-regarded wordsmiths out there who can't tell an interesting story to save their lives. And plenty of guys who'd keep you fascinated telling tales at a campfire, who couldn't write a coherent sentence. There's some injustice in the fact that the first group is considered superior to the second.Read the whole thing. Walker goes on not only to list a number of those tools, but to show how Raymond Chandler puts them to good use in the opening paragraph of The Big Sleep. His point is a very legitimate one. Personally, I'm consistently frustrated both by storytellers who scribble at an eighth-grade level and wordsmiths so devoid of narrative sense that they make Proust appear pulse-pounding. Genre lovers need a marriage of both. Our scribes ought to make us weep with the beauty of their craft while setting our heads spinning with unexpected plot twists.
I've known a couple fellows myself, in my time, who could keep an audience mesmerized, even though they butchered the English language. They made good use of the verbal storyteller's tools -- intonation, facial expression, changes in volume, dramatic pauses, gestures.
But the problem is that when a storyteller sits down to write a story on paper, he loses most of those tools.
(Picture: CC 2009 by Tomasz Kulbowski)