Write Me a Thing

Posted by on Feb 27, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

I think I’m backlashing against the term “storytelling,” which doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch that Neil Gaiman Master Class, because I totally do. But I feel like the word storytelling is being used irresponsibly. It’s being tossed around in all kinds of weather until it’s fixing to die of overexposure, if the marketers don’t flog it to death first.

My thoughts on the subject are not entirely connected. So: a list.

1. Storytelling and writing are not the same thing, and I’m a little impatient at how fans of the former like to diss the latter. You know, “I don’t care if it’s badly written just so it’s a good story.” I do care. Words matter. In the case of visual storytelling, images matter, and sequence is important.

2. Spoilers are not tragedies, because if all a story has to offer is surprise, what is EVEN the point, unless it’s a horror novel or movie? I knew Hamlet was going to die and it didn’t spoil the play.

3. People who get magical and mystical about storytelling make me suspicious. Old men with twinkly eyes and white beards who call themselves storytellers are charlatans to the bone. Children recognize this immediately.

3a. Joseph Campbell was a pompous old Texas Sharpshooter, bless his heart.

4. It’s appalling how the word has been co-opted by marketing. It was a good idea ten years ago, but now people slap “story” all over everything without including any actual narrative elements or really understanding what a story is. When you use a term too often, it becomes meaningless.

Let’s look at a semi-spam email I got from a startup.

This content tells a visual story about how to protect luxury brands in retail. It was produced in the Ceros platform and published in real time without any coding or dev work.

STFU. For real.

I guess you could¬†make a story of protecting luxury brands. You know if you were protecting them from aliens,¬† or, I don’t know, maybe a rival designer who was trying to steal credit for your work. You could get all avant-garde and non-linear with it (judiciously, please), or you could even be satirical about “luxury” for all I care, but visual storytelling = / = adding random pictures of phones and handbags. If you’re going to call it a story, make it a damn story. I’m losing it here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through Laurie’s mind. ADHD is a hell of a disease. Have a nice day.

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