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Do You Have the Gift of Storytelling?

When reading a story do you care more about the story or the language used to tell it? As a writer, do you have the gift of storytelling?
Books have always been a part of my inner life for as long as I can remember. They provided sustenance in dark times, and wisdom when I was lost. Now that I write books for a living, I struggle to find time to read as much as I used to in the days when reading was a passion without an agenda.
 
I analyze the books I read now, and that slows me down. Very rarely do I find a book that lets me sink in and I forget to check on the plot points or the character arc, storytelling, or even a few lines that I find particularly stunning in their combination of form and function.

 

In 2023 I read less than in the years before and I need to change that. One of the ways I’m doing this is by reading audio books. I read the Fourth Wing and Iron Flame purely as distraction from the grueling workout and work routine I put myself through these days. There’s something to be said for effortless storytelling, and the Fourth Wing does that. It’s a balance of fantasy and romance, a perfect storytelling cocktail of romantasy. At the line level, my editor would have pushed me much harder, but as far as the marriage of plot and character goes I admired the author’s felicity with the craft of storytelling. 

 
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese is is another book I haven’t been able to put down. It is set in the same location as The God of Small Things, and even though it is a much easier read, a linear, straightforward saga across generations, it keeps you in its grip.
 
As I struggle with my own edits — I need to prepare two novels for submission with my agent– it is with longing that I think of the storytelling chops of these two authors. I know some of the theory of it of course but when it comes to the practical nuts and balls of a story, I find it a challenge. That’s as it should be, but I do wish my talents lay in storytelling—because it is hard enough to be a writer, it is harder still when you struggle to function as a storyteller.
 
My publisher is thankfully doing their bit to market the books, so for now, THE BLUE MONSOON is on a Monthly Kindle Deal in Australia and the UK. If the spirit moves you, please Repost this Tweet, or copy the text and graphics to other social media.
When reading a story do you care more about the story or the language used to tell it? As a writer, do you have the gift of storytelling?

My literary crime novels, The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon are on Kindle Unlimited now. Add to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day ! And if you’d like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin.  Find all info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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20 Comments

  • Sonia Dogra says:

    Introspective and honest. Meeting deadlines is demanding. I hope you get to read more this year.

  • Debi says:

    I care (much!) more about the language used

    • DamyantiB says:

      That’s so interesting! I try my best to make sure plot and language flow side-by-side in my novels, because I know how much impact and importance it can have to readers.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Absolutely the same. That’s why my storytelling needs work.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – story telling … I tend to read ‘educational’ books -as I guess I’ve deprived myself over the years and want to learn. I have lots of books here to read … I’m reading Puck of Pook’s Hill – set in this part of the world – by Rudyard Kipling … and have a few cookbooks about different cultures’ foods … enjoying the potential of the tastes, while expanding my knowledge about different countries – and the people (often refugees) who are the main contributors. I enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ ‘Horse’ – included art, skeleton, racehorse, slaves across America, UK and Australia. Your storytelling is exemplary – I feel I am in Mumbai through your stories …cheers Hilary

    • DamyantiB says:

      That’s lovely to hear, thank you, Hilary! I always aim to completely immerse my readers in the setting, so I’m glad to hear it worked for you. I find it so interesting to observe how our reading choices change over the years as our mindsets, goals, and wants evolve, and how our TBR lists reflect the current stage of life we exist in. ‘Horse’ isn’t a book that I’ve picked up before, but it sounds like a good read!

  • Well, I used to write poetry, and I was a professional writer for most of my working career (grant writing). Now, I have some nuggets of a book I’ve worked on, but once I started working on it, I lost confidence in my ability to carry through with it. I know I can write okay, but… sometimes I read a novel and I feel very inadequate.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I understand the feeling. Comparing ourselves to other writers can push us to work harder, but can also crush our motivation and self-confidence. My way of coping is to try and balance the two. Just know that every piece of writing you put into the world, every word and every crumpled piece of paper or deleted sentence, is an achievement. I hope that all your nuggets come together to form a work of gold.

  • K.S. Schultz says:

    I am dazzled by language use of a good storyteller such as Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes or Alice Hoffman, both inspiring me to chase an imagined ideal in my work. So far, not so good, but it is fun.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I agree, much of my inspiration comes from the craft and creativity of other storytellers. Which is why I often find myself getting distracted by the finer details of their writing, instead of the bigger picture! I’m working on getting away from that habit, though. I hope you find what you’re looking for in your work!

  • The ideal read for me is when the language contributes to the story in a way that is seamless. (I’m not explaining this very well. Hopefully, you’ll know what I mean.)

  • satyam rastogi says:

    Wonderful post ✍️ It resonates with me so much.

  • I did just the opposite with reading when I became a writer–it increased! I was thirsty to see how other authors handled scene development, clothing, backstory–all those crazy details.

    BTW, on a marketing side, I’m featuring Blue Monsoon on my blog today (with a few other amazing books you’ll be proud to share the spotlight with). One order so far and one huzzah!

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you so much for the feature, Jacqui! I’m honored and grateful beyond words. It’s wonderful to hear that getting into writing only strengthened your reading pursuits. I know what you mean — there’s so much that can be learned from other authors, and my own work has benefitted immeasurably thanks to the critiques and advice I’ve gotten from the writing community.

  • I can tell a story but not sure how well. It’s cool when you find stories that are effortlessly told and frustrating that it’s tough to do that in our own work.
    Cool about the monthly feature on Amazon Australia!

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thanks, Alex, I’m quite excited about it! I agree, those types of stories are the dream, whether it comes to books I’ve written or books I’m reading. It’s always a challenge to figure out whether my writing lives up to my expectations!