Sunday, March 22, 2009


From the hopefilled mind of Earl Staggs

I’m always interested in what people who write call themselves. Most, I suppose, describe themselves as a “writer.” That’s fine, but it only tells me they know something about stringing words together.

Many are expert in the craft of the written word. They know the rules of grammar and punctuation, when to use "who" and when to use "whom," and know a preposition is not something with which to end a sentence. But there are so many different arenas in which they might apply their writing skills. There’s technical writing, for instance. Ask a technical writer to explain an economic principle or scientific theory, how to use a computer or prune a rose bush and they'll string words together in understandable prose. There’s also journalism. Journalists, or reporters, don’t create news, but use their writing ability to describe to the public what’s going on in the world around them. Some writers are reviewers or critics and use their skill to share their opinion of a book, movie, play or TV show.

There are more ways people use writing skill and that’s why, when someone says they’re a “Writer,” I want to know more. If they refer to themselves as a “Fiction Writer,” that narrows it down some.

Then there are those who refer to themselves as “Novelists.” Okay, but that only tells me they write books and at least one of them has been published.

While there’s nothing wrong with any of those terms, I would like to be known as a Storyteller.

In my mind, a Storyteller wants to do more than string words together to describe or report facts or events. A Storyteller wants to blend and brushstroke words into a tale so interesting and engrossing readers care how it ends. A Storyteller strives to create characters who think and feel so vividly readers understand their passions, exult in their joy, and feel the warmth of their tears. A Storyteller attempts to portray places and events, real or fictional, so true to the mind's eye readers are transported to those places and experience those events.

When someone can use the skills and craft of writing to tell a story that lifts readers from their immediate reality into a created one so truly as to leave indelible impressions in their minds and hearts, that person is blessed with a wondrous gift. I think of it as the Gift of Storytelling.

And that’s why I hope to be remembered as a Storyteller. Perhaps, if I keep learning and working hard at it, people will go one step further and think of me as a Good Storyteller.

Earl Staggs


Morgan Mandel said...

I'm trying to be a good storyteller also. My husband is really great at telling stories. He knows how to stretch everything out and make people want to know what happens next. When I talk, I usually get straight to the point. When I right, I'm the same way. It takes a conscious effort for me to add description to my writing so the reader can see what I see.

Morgan Mandel

Jean Henry Mead said...

I call myself a writer, Earl. I started out as a news reporter and evolved into a novelist. I'm probably also a storyteller, at least that's what my parents called me when I tried to lie my way out of punishment. I think all fiction writers can be called professional liars. :)


Mark Troy said...

Hey Earl, you got my vote for good storyteller.

F. M. Meredith, author said...

Me too, story teller is exactly what I think I am.

One tale after another.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Dana Fredsti said...

I call myself a writer, but I do like 'author' or 'storyteller' as well.