My daughter enjoys watching So You Think You Can Dance. It's a show similar to American Idol, but for the dance world. I sat down the other day and watched it with her and to my amazement I enjoyed it.
Several of the choreographers designed their dances around a story. A workaholic who always leaves his wife. A soldier going off to war. Two would be lovers meeting for the first time.
Storytelling comes in many forms and through different mediums. Dance, music, song, movies, TV, radio, riddles, jokes, comedy, and of course writing. But, even though, we can enjoy all of those forms of storytelling, they don't provide the means to be as descriptive and detailed as writing.
All forms of storytelling suspend time and belief. But, dancing and singing usually last only a few minutes. Movies, on average, are only 120 pages of double spaced action and dialogue (Check out Scriptwriters Network and Scriptwriter Central.) TV and radio are even shorter. Books, on the other hand, provide a longer and wider lens into the story, along with detail, setting, and a bit of voyeurism as we peer into the lives of others.
A best selling 'tell all' draws us into the life of the author. A novel pulls us closer to the things we see in the make believe characters that we wish we saw or didn't see in ourselves. The written story allows us to delve deeply into the conscious mind of the antagonist and protagonist, more so than any other form of storytelling.
Another advantage writing has over performance storytelling, (See Tim Ereneta's thought provoking performance storytelling site Breaking The Eggs) is that we don't have to rely on others to tell our story. No dancers, musicians, singers, or actors need to interpret our thoughts. We rely only on ourselves to put pen to paper to tell a story that grabs the reader's imagination or interest.
It doesn't matter if the story is about a fairy and a lion in a far away land, or a story about a pro football player who enjoys dog fights. It doesn't matter if the story is about a serial killer who likes to serve his victims to the patrons of the restaurant he owns, or a story about the latest mistake of a presidential candidate.
As writers, storytelling is what we do. So, next time you watch performance storytelling, remember, there's more power in your pen.