The Labors of Storytelling


A student’s Google Drive folder is all dedicated to one story. Various google documents that specify details about the story or have a general plan of what might happen are shown.

Glenda Chiang, AME Reporter

Storytelling is a labor intensive job. 

In this day in age, there are more stories than ever being told that are fictional. People create their own worlds and in turn, tell the story that they want to tell — how much of their heart is put into their work reflects the quality and care of the project. 

Junior Khaymin Miller said, “I like stories and storytelling…writing stories is a lot of fun because there aren’t really any limits, so you can just let loose.”

Instead of telling stories by word of mouth or reading stories on book and paper, people are getting stories and telling them in ‘nontraditional’ ways of storytelling, like listening to podcasts or playing a video game. Storytelling in general has been evolved into something that is quite frankly a lot more accessible to the general public. 

Creators of their craft take into consideration of what medium to use to tell their story — to comment on something and present a piece that represents what they want to say. 

As someone who writes for a group of people on the side aside from school work, it is a very difficult job to do. Creators and authors have to hone their piece towards a target audience, and no one is going to view the piece the same as another. 

Nowadays, people are telling stories and being told stories by media consumption. As technology grows, there are new mediums and ways to convey a story. There are TV shows, movies, and comics that portray their story in a style. Podcasts on the other hand also have their own distinct style.

Title art for TAZ: Balance; for future episodes when the McElroys do live shows around the country which are mainly DM-ed by Griffin Mcelroy. (Evan Palmer) 

“In terms of non fiction it’s fairly difficult, as you have to know the story, and can’t embellish details,” Junior Ashe Stott said. “But for fiction, it’s difficult for the opposite problem where you have no limits. Storytelling is extremely important for people in general even if only occasionally.”

Take for example one particular podcast called The Adventure Zone. As of Halloween 2019, season 3 of The Adventure Zone, also known as “TAZ”, has kicked off with a new episode with another DM and fans make headway into TAZ: Graduation. 

To give a bit of context of what this podcast is about, the three McElroy brothers and their dad play a tabletop rpg called Dungeons and Dragons (though they have deviated from this game per example of season 2, TAZ: Amnesty). The brothers are working with another “narrator”, or DM, this season. 

The DM stands for the “Dungeon Master”; to whoever plays this role, they set the scene and moderate the story plot. The rest are players which drive the story forth with their actions. The first DM was the youngest brother, Griffin McElroy who has moderated the first two seasons of this podcast. Now though, it is moderated by the middlest brother, Travis McElroy. 

Both have very distinct styles in how they present their story. Griffin presents his narration like  a screenplay, describing terminology that writing classes would encourage you not to do. 

From TAZ: Balance Finale, — major spoilers in this episode — “We see a close-up of Davenport’s face, his teeth gritted, his knuckles tight across the spokes of the Starblaster’s wheel…And through the viewport of the Starblaster’s helm, we see Taako, Merle, and Magnus on the deck of the ship, bracing themselves on a railing as their vessel picks up speed.”

Meanwhile, Travis presents his craft like a novel with in depth description of the scene and motivation of players. 

From TAZ: Graduation, — the very first episode — “This world has many names across her many lands, but my favorite is simply, Nua*. As the light from her sun crests Nua’s horizon, we see what appears to be the beginnings of another ordinary day. A blessing of unicorns rouse themselves from slumber and begin to graze. Villages and towns come to life and hum with converse and gossip.”

*official spelling unconfirmed

Title art for TAZ: Graduation, the newest season of The Adventure Zone, with the new DM, Travis McElroy. (Evan Palmer)

Both have very distinct styles in how they present their story, and it is clear that they each put a lot of effort into how they DM. For Travis, he has spent several months prior to plan his world while

Griffin on the other hand has had years to build upon to reach a final conclusion after not having a specific goal in mind at the start. 

Being a writer is a difficult job and there is no guarantee that your content is good unless you share it while still keeping every secret underwraps. There is a choice on whether to pitch your ideas or keep them as a surprise. 

Junior Sean Ryland said, “[Stories] are super hard to plan out and even if you aren’t writing a whole lot, you still need to think about how the story will be taken and what universe it takes place in.”

There are so many decisions to make in a story and there is a choice on whether or not to write something because it might be controversial — and depending on the writer, how they handle certain subjects is a hard thing to write about, such as with abuse, death, etc.. There is a fine line in every decision that people can get the wrong message and the care of those subjects matter to a lot of people. 

In short, storytelling is a hard line to balance in what to write and a lot of people don’t really appreciate or don’t know about the effort that goes into writing.