Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment.
Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view. The term ‘storytelling’ is used in a narrow sense to refer specifically to oral storytelling and also in a looser sense to refer to techniques used in other media to unfold or disclose the narrative of a story.
Storytelling predates writing, with the earliest forms of storytelling usually oral combined with gestures and expressions. In addition to being part of religious rituals, some archaeologists believe rock art may have served as a form of storytelling for many ancient cultures. The Australian aboriginal people painted symbols from stories on cave walls as a means of helping the storyteller remember the story. The story was then told using a combination of oral narrative, music, rock art and dance, which bring understanding and meaning of human existence through remembrance and enactment of stories. People have used the carved trunks of living trees and ephemeral media (such as sand and leaves) to record stories in pictures or with writing. Complex forms of tattooing may also represent stories, with information about genealogy, affiliation and social status.