Storytelling & Online Writing

In his essay The Storyteller, Walter Benjamin (1936) said that ‘the ability to exchange experience’ from mouth to mouth is an essential source for storytellers. We’re all storytellers.

Be it via blog, Instagram, Twitter or whatever online platform we use, we’re sharing stories through a medium of imitation (Aristotle 1997) that’s connected to all. Our stories imitate life, a notion echoed by Heidegger (1977) who postulated that the essence of technology is a mode of human existence that ‘enframes’ all that ‘comes to presence’ in the world by the ‘standing-reserve’ – the world including man. The pros and cons of which are personal to each writer as termed by the writer’s growth.

The habit of online writing improves your writing, helps you build a community of readers, educates you about the world, flexes creativity and can build you a business platform (Greene 2013).

However, the Internet community’s collective preferences shepherd personal choices into the alignment of the virtual zeitgeist that’s partly determined by sub-cultural pressures of the technology in use, such as with Instagram. As Pinchbeck (2006) puts it, ‘consciousness is embedded in the processes it perceives, continually changing them while it is changed by them.’ Byer (2013) calls it ‘a surfeit of attention.’ We want to keep up with all the deeper we go. Pro or con, it’s personal.

In keeping up we encounter distraction, which Byer claims is going to make it ‘difficult to produce text as it will be to consume it.’ Though, this is common, as distraction is part of any endeavour. Worry about yourself.

With this practice-led research blog, I use a pseudonym; Crain’s (2013) ‘mystification.’ This relieves any daily writing stress that occurs when writing about new subjects. Seemingly, worrying about your audience seems detrimental to the growing writer. As Bendis (2014) says in Words For Pictures, your writing ‘has to find its way. Your audience will decide what they want when they want it.’

Attracting an audience is different, difficult. Whatever your focus, then its style should apply. Mine: screenwriting. So, I groaned reading Crain and Byer’s articles. Crain’s an unfulfilled promise and Byer’s verging on rant, each bloated with text and lacking authority. In the online sphere, where information fatigue is epidemic, the tent poles of screenplay work best. Capture attention with concise paragraphs, white space and coherent structure. People log in to gain resource against boredom, seeking to draw from standing-reserves an experience reminiscent to that gained from the storyteller. So, be a bloody good one!

While the ‘the means by which we share our experiences might have changed’, the stories told now fragmented, akin more to television narrative than film, ‘the experiences themselves have not’ (Byer 2013). The style may have changed from surfeit of attention, but the outcome is the same: to tell a good yarn, to do something new – lateral thinking helps. ‘Creativity is prized… language… limitless, and because we have fashioned an existence from language, we are as limitless as the language we fashion to express ourselves’ (Byer 2013).

The writer needs to know the pros and cons of using the technology – adapt then adopt techniques in order to best convey the experience. Storytelling isn’t just a one-night stand. It’s love, hard work: craft.


Aristotle, 1996, Poetics, Penguin Books, London

Bendis, B. M. 2014, Words for Pictures, Jinxworld, New York

Benjamin, W 1936, ‘The Storyteller’, from Hale, Dorothy J, Ed. The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900-2000, Blackwell Publishing, 2006, viewed 7 September 2014,

Byer, S 2013, ‘The end of everything, Fiction’s fretful futures Pt. 1’, The Weeklings, viewed 3 September 2014,

Byer, S 2013, ‘The end of everything, Fiction’s fretful futures Pt. 2’, The Weeklings, viewed 3 September 2014,

Byer, S 2013, ‘The end of everything, Fiction’s fretful futures Pt. 3’, The Weeklings, viewed 3 September 2014,
Byer, S 2013, ‘The end of everything, Fiction’s fretful futures Pt. 4’, The Weeklings, viewed 3 September 2014,

Crain, C 2008, ‘How is the Internet Changing Literary Style?’, Steamthing, viewed 3 September 2014,

Greene, M 2013, ‘Pros and Cons’, Molly Greene Blog, viewed 8 September 2014,

Heidegger, M 1977, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, pp. 3-35, Simondon, viewed 7 September 2014,

Pinchbeck, D 2007, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Penguin Group, New York


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