Storytelling Throughout the Ages

July 24, 2017

Storytelling has always existed and it probably always will. However, the nature of storytelling has changed throughout the span of human history. To a large extent, storytelling has been affected by the medium.

The stories told through oral tradition are the most fundamental to human culture in general. Cultures that did not have a written language will tend to pass on stories through a legacy of community storytellers. Oral tradition stories tend to be full of archetypes that people across many different cultures will recognize. This gives them a broad appeal. However, it is very difficult to create complex themes, characters, and plots in the form of oral tradition stories. Even remembering all of these elements is difficult for the storyteller, and oral tradition stories are more or less told in the manner of plot exposition.

The written word more or less transformed storytelling. People could create very complicated stories and plots. However, many written stories will have more of a niche appeal in a lot of cases. It’s not possible to make long-form works that will strike the same notes in the same way as oral tradition stories. There is more material, which makes them less easily consumable. There is also the fact that rhetoric is more important in the case of oral tradition stories, while written fiction can get away with being much more meandering.

Plays, television shows, and movies are forms of storytelling. These forms of storytelling place more of an emphasis on dialogue than almost anything written ever will. People can see what is going on when they watch a play, movie, or television show. Narrators don’t have to tell them about it. Plays, movies, and television shows have scripts that more or less consist only of dialogue, which is how the story happens.

Since these forms of storytelling are spoken aloud, the dialogue has to be believable. In this way, these newer forms of storytelling seem to combine a lot of what people like about both oral tradition stories and written fiction. People like the rhetoric of oral tradition stories and the complexities of written fiction. They can get both with visual and interactive storytelling. Written fiction still exists. However, the dialogue is now more similar to movie dialogue or television dialogue than it was in the past. All of these art forms exist today, and they have gotten to the point where they can all influence each other.