Orality vs. Literacy
Writing is the process of transforming verbal words into visual symbols that represent said word and can be discerned by others. At its basic level, literacy is a form of transferring information. Only when writing goes beyond merely being understandable and starts to fulfill needs for creativity and aesthetics, does it become more of an art than simply a way to move information. In contrast, storytelling can be done through multiple mediums such as writing to opera and ballet. Though these forms of storytelling work in order to communicate a tale from one person to another, it is my belief that and oral performance is the purist way to communicate a story.
It is quite rare that great writers are also great storytellers. By this I mean that often these are not equivalent skills for a person to have. Not only does writing require a sense for words, but also structure, pacing, plot, style, and more. ...view middle of the document...
Even for someone who simply wants to write with the fluidity of his or her thought process will still have to do quite a bit of editing and refining in order to avoid basic typos and grammatical errors. Good writing often requires premeditation which allows the writer to plan out where the course of the story is going in order to weave in details of aspects like foreshadowing. For the most part, this means that constructing a written story is not at all a fast process.
In contrast, oral storytelling is a much more spontaneous art and does not require as much premeditation as writing. The two forms of narration are from almost two different dimensions of language. Unlike the formal construction of writing, oraliy focuses completely on sound. Components of oral communication like rhythm, rhyme, and intonation are not as powerful in text as they are when a tale is told by a master storyteller. It requires a vocal influence in order for these components of a story to make more sense. For example, after the lecture, many students said that the repetition in Inanna was much easier to understand when we heard it read aloud than when we were simply reading it alone, in our heads. This shows the power of the oral storytelling. The other way that orality has superiority over the written form is that there are not the same visual constraints in the wording of the story. It is in these ways that an oral storyteller may seem more closely related to a singer or performer than a writer.
It should be clear at this time that oral storytelling and writing require two different sets of skills. Both forms require some mastery of language and narrative, but they still diverge in many ways. Spontaneity vs. premeditation. Originality vs. skill (when it comes to reusing old elements to good effect.) Sound vs. sight. And so on. Of course, the skills of one could be applied to the other with some modification. A storyteller could use his or her ear for sound to write dialogue sound very natural when read aloud. But the movements, intonations, and other devices used orally simply cannot be translated to text. Either sort of artist, though, can recognize worth when they see it.