So we have the term "storyteller" for anyone who is telling a story, be it via a book, verbally, the silver screen, or some other media.

Do we have a generic term for the audience specific to storytelling?

The generic 'audience' would cover anyone from somebody watching the 5 o'clock news, to somebody reading a dental pamphlet, to somebody reading a work of fiction, and I'd like something more specific.

  • listeners, or heeders. for more visual storytelling: spectators, viewers, theatergoers, showgoers
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 18:58
  • also, storyteller refers to a person, so you wouldn't call a 'movie, or a play, or an opera' a storyteller.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:05
  • @V0ight I don't believe I implied that the story was the storyteller, but the '[person] who is telling a story.'
    – Ranger
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:07
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    You're getting some odd answers. How do you want to use this term? That might help if we knew in what context the term would be used? Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:43
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    storytellees, no doubt. Not to be confused with storyteletubbies.
    – Drew
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 22:17

3 Answers 3


Since you want a more 'medium-neutral' term for this, consider these options:








"The focus of narrative analyses has been on the story and the teller. More attention needs to be paid to the role of the story receiver in creating narrative meaning"

"We can study narrative from the vantage point of the storyteller or the story receiver..." "The storyteller chooses what story information to present and to omit. The story receiver pieces together the information presented as well as hinted at and creates the story in her or his imagination."

"...on the part of both participants (story-teller and audience) that indeed a story is being told, that there is present in one place a story-teller and a story-receiver"

"At these moments, one can hardly distinguish between the story giver and the story receiver, for it's in the shared experience that the dragon appears."

"The concept of point of view involves the relationship of the narrator to his story and to the story's receiver."

The circuit of communication is now completed: narrator, story, receiver, response. The "story", however, need not have plot or action.

"The opposite of a storyteller, she was a story receiver."

"Narrative has the power to create such worlds, imagined communities, or mythical nations, which on certain occasions can supplant the “real” world in the mind of the story recipient."

"Most narrative researchers consider storytelling to be unlike everyday conversation in that the teller monologically performs narration, an audience exists as story recipient..."

"It is significant that Munro often changes between first- and third-person narration in successive versions of a story without changing our sense of the story's experiencer."

"3) locate and describe, narrate into existence, an audience as narrative receiver, and, by extension, give form to a conception of the world."

"The metaphor, whether cultural or private, was heard by the listener as an element of performance style — something that made the oral performance an emotionally satisfying experience for both storyteller and narrative recipient alike."

"For example, directly addressing the reader normally compels us to acknowledge our role as narrative recipient; but these addresses are minimal in the early chapters of Jane Eyre, though they increase dramatically near the end of the novel,..." ~ Charlotte Brontë and the Storyteller's Audience

"Finally, we must distinguish between the “incident narrative” (that of the “narrative experiencer”) and the “courtroom narrative” (that of the in-court legal storyteller). "

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    Did you mean to include the hyphens in your original listing of terms? It seems that most of your examples (correctly) don't include a hyphen in between the two words Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 20:53
  • @Nick Weinberg ~ It's a personal stylistic choice; the hyphens make it seem as if the two words go together more, compared to without them. Anyway there's no rule against it. The third link uses story-teller, along with story-receiver..... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storyteller ("Storyteller, Story Teller, or Story-Teller may refer to")
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 20:59
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    refer to the section 'Compound nouns': oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/hyphen-american The general rule is that if the compound nouns are very common in speech, they're usually going to be either combined or separated by a space. If they're uncommon, hyphens are acceptable.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 21:13

As far as I could find, we refer to the generic audience as a version of the verb used to receive the story suffixed with -er.

Watching the 5 o'clock news makes you a viewer. Reading a dental pamphlet or work of fiction makes you a reader. Listening to a story makes you a listener.

See Audience for examples — Dictionary.com (bolding mine)

noun 1. the group of spectators at a public event; listeners or viewers collectively, as in attendance at a theater or concert: The audience was respectful of the speaker's opinion.

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    The OP wants not to include pamphlet-readers and news-watchers.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:03
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    Right. Which is why audience isn't the term I suggested.
    – Devbag
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:04
  • You offered very specific terms (tied to the specific media), which I appreciate, but I was hoping for something with roughly the same level of specificity as "storyteller."
    – Ranger
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:06
  • Ah. How about storylistener? Might be a bit hammy, haha.
    – Devbag
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:13

This might not be in common usage, but consider storygoer, formed on analogy with with theatergoer, moviegoer, filmgoer, and concertgoer. It means:

a person who entertains a story.

This word is used. For example, it is used in the following passage:

Stories always have a situation, however minimal, whether given through description, narration, dialogue, action, or otherwise. Beyond merely suspending disbelief in order to entertain a story, the storygoer who holds nothing back allows the imagined to gain an actual reality.

Soderquist, Kierkegaard on Dialogical Education (2016)

An alternative is storyhearer, which is generally used to mean anyone who entertains a story, spoken or written. This definition is evidenced by example occurrences here.

Another alternative is storyship, formed on analogy with readership and listenership. But storyship would refer to the collective audience, not a single person.

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