Which wins the storytelling battle – words or pictures?

Sometimes words create a mind-picture so complete that adding an actual image doesn’t make the story any more vivid.

While a picture (often in a heartbeat) conveys unspoken subtleties that may otherwise be missed.

But can you tell a complete story without words?



Well first, what is a story

It’s actually easier to say what a story isn’t. It isn’t what happens: be it dramatic, watchable or chronological.

“Stories are about how we, rather than the world around us, change. They grab us only when they allow us to experience how it would feel to navigate the plot.”

~ Wired For Story, Lisa Cron


So a story is an internal journey, not an external one.

Now going back to my Friday challenge – can a complete story be told without words?


But it was a tough one to prove.

The exceptions to the rule are Norman Rockwell’s pictures.

Each of his paintings undoubtedly have a timeless storytelling quality and tells a complete story.

The characters, setting and the plot are all there – in an instant.

They depict life as he wanted to see it lived – be it true or not.

As a master of emotion and entertainment, each of Rockwell’s paintings has its own story baked into it – often speaking to different people in different ways, with new details (or chapters) of the story emerging each time you look.

He captured and captivated all generations with the facial expressions, situations, action, drama and amazement he depicted.

A complete story all rolled into one – without a single word.


Have I answered the challenge?

Do Rockwell’s pictures tell you a complete story without words? Do you know of any other examples?


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