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Monday, July 21, 2014

Good Writing or a Good Storyteller?

Good Writing or a Good Storyteller?
by Peter Quinn

Shakespeare was a good writer, “Her flesh barren and pure, his desires it did beckon.” Jackie Collins is a good storyteller, “She stood before him her bare shoulder begging his attentions.”

Okay, I made the quotes up. I didn’t want to deal with copyright laws and, yes, I am being lazy.  My point is that both are successful in their genres, selling millions of copies and starting just as many conversations.  Both are good writers and storytellers, but I am certain that we will probably never see a Jackie Collins novel on a high school summer reading list where, to the chagrin of many students, we do find William Shakespeare. 

Why isn’t Jackie on the summer reading list?  The PTA banning her books for high school consumption is not the answer I’m looking for. What makes the difference between a classic and a best seller?  Not all best sellers are classics and not all classics are best sellers.  Case in point, “Snookie” from Jersey Shore wrote a best seller that no one read and is in no danger of becoming a classic.

Is a good writer necessarily a good storyteller?  Can every good writer set a scene and draw out emotion through only the written word? Does every good writer spin a good tale that makes the book a page tuner? How many writers inspire people to read their whole book in one day?

I believe that given the opportunity both Will and Jackie would attend the conference, although  “Snookie” wouldn’t, to share their thoughts on what makes a good writer versus what makes a good storyteller.  Are the two totally separate, like Ms. Collins and Mr. Shakespeare who seem to live on different ends of the writing spectrum?  Or, do they meet somewhere in the middle?