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"Storytelling" is a term that has a continuum of meaning.

At one end of the continuum is the most used sense, which is broad-- not only actors, rappers, singers, and comics, but movie directors, painters, novelists and so forth can be storytellers.

At the other end of the continuum is a narrowly specific activity, one which gives the broader sense its meaning. Somebody is speaking to another or others, face to face, in real time, using a thread of language to weave a narrative that satisfies the listener's intuitive requirements for what makes a story. As with what makes food palatable, those requirements vary from group to group, but do not require study on the part of the consumer.


  • Do you know of a scholar who expressed the distinction you make? ---Rednblu | Talk 21:34, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)


  • storyteller: one who tells stories
    • 1) one who is accustomed to tell stories or anecdotes in conversation
    • 2) euphemistically: a liar
    • 3) One whose business it is to recite legendary or romantic legends
    • 4) a writer of stories.

(I qualify under all these categories) Scholarship is scattered and often not to the point in this field. Professional storytellers and storytelling enthusiasts have mostly stopped debating what storytelling is-- it was one of those endless arguments, of the kind familiar to old hands in science fiction and folk music. I've been thinking about it and corresponding about it (on the Storytell mailing list) and writing about it (in Storytelling Magazine and other places) for some time; this is a distillation that a lot of folks can agree on. ---timj

Good Grief (talk) 05:07, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Tone looks fine to me...[edit]

I don't mean to disagree outright, but I do a lot of this kind of writing, and the current tone on 10/12/2005 looks GREAT to me. I suggest the tag be removed. —Kth 13 October 2005

  • (Please sign your posts.) I agree with Proto; the article currently has a bit of a "how-to" feel, and should be rephrased to sound neutral and encyclopedic instead. I've made several minor changes that I hope will help. --LostLeviathan 05:29, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I would also tend to agree with Proto. I think the article is extremely essay-like, has abrupt topic changes, very little overall 'flow,' and is oddly specific when addressing (for example) Genesis while barely or not at all addressing (for example) non-oral storytelling. -Trillian, 28 November 2005
  • I agree with Proto - the article is very essay-like. Case in point: Opening with a quote rather than a definition. Needs major cleanup, which I will begin later. Have reinstated the "inappropriate tone" tag. —EatMyShortz 14:47, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
    • Oh, I see what's happened. At the time Kth wrote his comment ([1]) it was a lot better (for instance, it didn't open with an essay paragraph). But it seems to have since deteriorated. Perhaps fixes could be made with reference to that version (not a redirect, just using it to help). —EatMyShortz 14:56, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
      • It's been a while, clearly. I think the tone is now far too piecemeal, academic and essay-like. Ironic, for an article about telling stories. Anyone interested in a clear-up? Adhib (talk) 14:45, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Standard Types of Story?[edit]

I have heard that all stories can be classified as one of six or seven standard types. Is this true? Does anyone know more about these types? I would guess that "poor boy made good", and "unrequited love" might be two of the standard types. 08:07, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes, the seven basic plots[edit]

see 'The Seven basic plots' by Christopher Booker —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:01, 19 February 2007 (UTC).

It is rather late to join this debate, but Booker's seven basic plots are listed as Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy and Rebirth, in the Guardian's review of the book. See [2].Patche99z (talk) 15:29, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

I am adding external links to three websites The National Storytelling Network The Art of Storytelling Blog and Podcast Tim Sheppard's Storytelling resources on the Web page. and the National Storytelling Center's Website.

I think that the current link storytelling in business is a for profit out fit that is selling links and not a legitimate source or a worthy link.

But since I am adding links I am going to let some one else decide what is worthy and not worthy.

-- 14:33, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

I changed the name of the sponsoring agency of the Storytell listserv. I'm a member of the list, and a member of NSN. Cris Riedel —Preceding unsigned comment added by Storycris (talkcontribs) 00:41, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Needs rearranging[edit]

In desperate need of rewriting. Content is good, but not really in any logical sequence - it seems like fragmented thoughts put in no specific order. Also, the Genesis point is valid, but it should be included as a short point, as there is a separate article availble for in depth analysis.


FYI the 'mare' from the term 'nightmare' is cognate with the German 'Märchen', so that 'nightmare' has little to do with horses or bad dreams. Rather, it's a story told during the night, while you sleep.

FYI The German word "das Märchen" (neutral gender) is the diminutive of the German word "die Mar" (female gender). "Mar" generally means "tale,
fiction", but also "report, information" Etymol. Dict., p.227.
Inawe 17:47, 27 February 2015 (UTC)


I tried pruning the article by removing any and all words/sentences/paragraphs/sections that sounded so essay like as to, IMO, justify scrapping 'em and starting from scratch. I'm not sure if I succeeded, so I am nominating this article for a POV check. Hopefully, we can improve this article to FA status. --Call me Bubba (talk) 03:24, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

"there can be much truth in a story of fiction, and much falsehood in a story that uses facts" this statement is simple common sense and doesn't need an "authority" to justify it.

Broken link[edit]

the first link in "external links" is broken!

Fixed A Softer Answer (talk) 21:26, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Rise in Orality[edit]

This section has been recently added, citing only a ministry for its statistics, and referencing the Gutenburg[sic] pause, an article that was recently removed for being made-up. It seemed to be directly useful to me, if confirmed, but I can find no scholarly back-up for this section at all, and in fact it seems to be directly citing a piece of non-notable marketing copy and an invented wikipedia page. Please cite or give your support if you can, and put it back, otherwise it should be removed. Idmillington (talk)

"Two trends are driving a resurgence in the craft of storytelling. One is a recognition that much of the non-western world uses storying and not literate learning as primary means of communication. Another is the end of the Gutenburg pause and a rise in functional illiteracy.[1]" — Preceding unsigned comment added by Idmillington (talkcontribs) 20:54, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

The source was not ministry, and not made up. It was, however misquoted: "Gutenberg Parenthesis" is a term Tom Pettitt, Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern Denmark, used at an MIT conference on Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures. ("Before the Gutenberg Parenthesis: Elizabethan-American Compatibilties" Tom Pettitt) [3] Recommend restoration. That it came from a ministry site does not make it untrue. --DeknMike (talk) 02:26, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Adding Storytelling as Learning/Some Indigenous American Community info[edit]

Hi all. I was looking into adding more to the idea of storytelling as a learning tool, especially in some Indigenous American communities. We've got a separate section of "learning" and "Indigenous Cultures" and this makes it sort of sound like the Indigenous use is not the same as learning. A lot of research states that storytelling in Indigenous communities IS their informal way of learning, so I want to touch on that. I'm going to add some explicit examples of storytelling, and some additional values and ways of storytelling. ```` — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jaylykens (talkcontribs) 05:42, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Too many pictures[edit]

I've reverted (again) the addition of yet another pictures. The argument that it is needed to represent that particular culture would then result in several hundred pictures being required. I can see an argument for expanding the section on person stories, maybe their use of architypes in which case something might be called for. In the meantime I'm open to argument here. ----Snowded TALK 14:04, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Ok. If you say there are extra images in the article, we can manage them. Storytelling is a traditional art is different by cultures. We have 8 files in the articles that two of them are about cuture of India. Why?! India is only historic country in Asia? Persia is one of the oldest nations of the world but we can't see any evidence of it's culture. I remove one of the files from India and Add picture about Shahnameh in Contemporary storytelling topic. this is balancing.SaMin SAmIN (talk) 20:37, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
I think you are being a little precious about one culture. I don't see evidence of Australian aboriginal story telling (which is very different from western traditions and far older) nor the Celtic tradition, nor .....
OK you have a particular interest in Persian articles from your edit history, but moving around wikipedia inserting Persian material simply because it is Persian is not something I would recommend. Assuming the photograph you have inserted is not promotional I'm happy to let the substitution stand however.----Snowded TALK 04:24, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Snowded, If you think there are good pictures about storytelling in Oceania, Please add one of them to the article. We can use Template:Multiple image.Gire 3pich2005 (talk) 11:54, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Reference 13[edit]

Reference 13: "Doty, Elizabeth". The link is broken and needs to be repaired!
Inawe 17:28, 27 February 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Approximately sixty-seven percent of the people of the world are non-literate oral learners.