The Thinking Chair: Different Storytelling Mediums

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I love storytelling. I think it’s one of the most fundamental human urges: to share experiences. It’s one of the ways we grow and learn. Though I will often be heard saying that books are my preferred storytelling form, I don’t often get the opportunity to say why or what I enjoy about the different storytelling mediums we have available to us.

One of the things I like best about books is that they are so similar in form and storytelling capability to verbal storytelling (This is also a big reason why I like audiobooks). Books offer the same verbal craftsmanship and omnipotence that oral storytelling does. The advantage of the written word comes in the ability to refine the story before the reader receives it.

In my opinion, books maintain much of the artfulness of oral storytelling while allowing the creator the ability to go more in-depth with their tale and the ability to revise and refine their work.

This is not to say that books are superior to other forms of storytelling.

I know it’s often popular or considered a sign of sophistication to advocate reading over modern visual storytelling forms like movies and television. Doing that, however, would undermine the growth and perpetuation of storytelling as a form and underestimate the value of visual mediums.

First off, we know that I love graphic novels and comics. They offer a compromise between the visual and the verbal that I find enjoyable and intriguing.

Movies and television offer, however, a sense of real-time experience that shouldn’t be sold short. They also allow the viewer an opportunity to create bonds and decide how they feel about a character without the potential for an all-seeing narrator to interrupt and tell them otherwise. Of course, stories and characters are still guided; their plots are fixed and the consumer only sees chosen actions. However, I think there is some value to not seeing inside a person’s head, even if it is one of the things I like most about books. Television in particular offers a fantastic sense of time, especially when shown in weekly episodes.

What do you like about storytelling? What forms are your favorite?

I won’t go into all of them. Of course, plays, music, art all offer their own advantages. Let me know what you prefer.


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