The art of storytelling is best preserved in the written word

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Illustration by Greg Storey

I’ve always been a fan of old-school, traditional books. I’m talking paperback or hardcover—something tangible versus an audiobook or kindle-esque digital copy. There’s a sense of comfort that comes with reading words off paper and physically holding a book—a more intimate experience at times than hearing something spoken out loud.

While I’ve never thought too much about why I prefer the reading experience to be on my terms—meaning I’m holding the book and I’m reading the words—an article in Literary Hub basically summed up the reasoning for me:

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019 quote-left

When one reads a book aloud as an audiobook, the visual aspects of the text all disappear. Complex narrative structures, shifting perspectives, narrative polyphony, long, meandering sentences and the visual aspects of a text find themselves increasingly under threat from a medium that relies solely on hearing. If linear narrative becomes the only acceptable form of complex literary expression, our thoughts will be the poorer for it.

Laura Lindstedt, the author of this piece, goes on to name a few examples of how listening can ruin the experience of a story. It’s also a great explanation of why podcasts and audiobooks haven’t put the written word out of business. 

Each medium has their own pros and cons, and there’s certainly a reason why audio content is so successful, especially as of late. Laura points out how autobiographies translate well in this format, with a linear narrative and a direct writer and reader relationship.

This doesn’t mean you should stray away from incorporating an auditory medium into your publishing efforts, it’s just a nudge to think twice about how you’re presenting different types of content.

Now, most of the examples above relate to creative writing—but, blog posts themselves can be a form of creativity depending on your writing style. That’s one thing to keep in mind when deciding how to display your content.

Visual/audio content 

A lot of people are visual learners, and videos are a great way to build your brand, showcase some personality and put together how-to’s or demos. It’s also a way for your audience to get to know the person behind the words and create a more personal connection, especially when it comes to building business relationships.

The reason podcasts have been such a big success is the capability for multi-tasking. Per CMS Wire:

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People can listen to an audiobook or podcast while they’re working out, doing home chores, or driving. If a brand’s target audience is business professionals or consumers that are very busy, producing more audio content could make sense.

I think visual/audio content can be a great addition to written pieces. You can form a podcast around your already existing blog, create a video detailing highlights from a post and use all of these different mediums to complement one another. 

Written content

While audio content may seem like the clear favorite in catering to busy professionals—that’s not always the case. Where consumers benefit from the multitasking component of podcasts, readers enjoy the ability to skim written content. 

But, when you get down to the bread and butter of showcasing your voice and developing that relationship with your audience, we return to written content.

While it may seem easier to portray your personality in front of a camera, you can still do that through writing. Take a look at some formidable bloggers in the legal world, they have clear voices and you’d probably be able to pick out their blog posts in a lineup. 

Storytelling is best presented with the written word. When you learn to develop a voice and play around with the craft, there’s no reason your narrative blogging voice can’t be as strong as one found in a fictional story.

It’s all about what you want to put your time and effort into—but I’m still going to stand by the opinion that stories are better preserved in their written form and my overflowing bookcases will gladly back me up.

Michelle works on LexBlog’s Publishing team as the Editor and assists in managing and creating the company’s editorial and social content, as well as working with clients to ensure the overall success of their blogs. She has experience working in all different realms of publishing—including newspapers, magazines and research journals. 

Photo of Michelle Newblom
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