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Once, before Film, before printing, before even writing, all stories were spread by word of mouth alone. All the oldest stories have their roots in this ancient tradition.

Oral storytelling has distinctive features, shaping the tropes it uses. Speech is not nearly as fast as reading, so a evening's worth of story is shorter, it is not possible to page back through the story, and the story itself needs the kind of repetitive features that aid memorization. Even with memorization, stories often became distorted over long periods as the details of the original telling fell victim to the ravages of time.

Much of the oral tradition falls somewhere on the myth-legend-fairytale spectrum. Myths deal with gods, demigods, and the shaping of the world. Legends are on a slightly smaller scale, dealing with great heroes, the founding of nations, and other history shaking events. Fairy tales, for all their princes, are on a smaller scale still.

The oral tradition also includes such things as nursery rhymes and folk songs.

There are various tropes stemming from classical myths and European fairytales used to mark written stories as belonging in these genres. For obvious reasons, every trope here is one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, if they haven't been forgotten.


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