The Pain of Wasted Story Telling



Actually, the word “telling” in the headline is what it is all about. Stories are not about telling at all.  Stories are about allowing readers live through them.

And not every published book accomplishes this.

I’ve read (or tried to read) books with amazing worlds in them. Incredible creativity. Complicated plots and a host of characters. Bad, overwhelming enemies. Everything a great adventure would need.

Except they didn’t draw me in.

Their way of telling the story was just that: Telling.

Nothing else. No showing, no glimpse of the characters’ inner side, no personal growth, nothing to get me involved.

And it hurts. That is the Pain in the title.

It hurts me to see that much creativity wasted. To see all the effort that went into publishing that book spent in vain – because the author is not allowing me as reader inside the story.

It’s about as entertaining as watching a silent movie without subtitles. The characters go through the motions of the tale. They move across the landscape, they get into fights, they  have arguments, they may kiss and hug, and at the end they might even win – but it’s all hidden behind a glass panel.


I, as reader, can only watch.

I wish I could teach those authors how to connect with their characters. How to limit their tale to one main character – or three – and make those come alive in my heart. How to show me why those people should matter to me.

I wish, with all my heart! I love stories.

Please, please, dear authors, look at how bestsellers work. Look at how some authors grip their readers by the heart and don’t let them go until the book ends. Please do not script silent movies and leave out the feelings. Practice and grow and learn.

And then rewrite those lovely tales you created, reuse those awesome worlds, grab those characters, breathe life into them and write a real story.

It is doable. It can be learned.


Image Source: F. Moebius


Does this resonate with you? Write a comment.

PS: I do coach writers. (The link is Writers’ Dream Coach, up in the menu bar.) Until now I didn’t feel the urge to coach writers on the actual craft of story telling. I may have to change that approach, though. Please let me also know what you think about that.

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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