Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Wonderful Art of Storytelling

Most likely, your first thought is of books when you read the title of this blog post, but I’m here to tell you that “Storytelling” has a much broader and important meaning!  For a start, a simple relating of events is an instance of storytelling, and no doubt this was the first kind of story in mankind’s history.  When it was a significant event, the story was told over and over, probably embellished along the way, until it became a legend, myth or folk tale.  

Music has been an integral means of conveying a story throughout history, and many stories – factual, legendary or simply fanciful and for entertainment value – have been related by means of ballads, tunes and rhymes.  In Medieval times, minstrels roamed the countryside singing their stories, spreading an heroic tale or poetic fable across the land.  

Minstrels were like balladeers who sang stories.
Others developed the art of speaking to narrate a story, adding emphasis, dialogue and suspense to entertain as well as convey a story of some kind.  Often, a story had a lesson, a moral or point to teach and remind listeners of the importance of behaving a certain way.  

A more sophisticated form of storytelling is the drama or play in which actors participate in conveying parts of the story, in particular the emotional aspects of individual characters in the story.  And just as a theatrical play has a writer and director, so does the modern version of a dramatical play, namely the film.  

Finally, there is the written story, and this comes in many lengths, shapes and genres, from a very short story to an epic series.   The story can have a moral, a lesson in history, a concept of philosophy or human psychology, or simply be an artistic display of words.

The reader can become immersed in the lives of other people, thereby broadening the reader’s knowledge and understanding of how different people react and deal with life’s problems and challenges.   The reader can also be led to deeper self-understanding by relating to a particular character in a story.

Image by luankblo on Pixabay
Not only can a story relate an historic event for various purposes, but when the story conveys the mentality and culture of its time and place, it is like a time-capsule.  The reader of an old book, or the viewer of an old film, can be transported back to a time when the general world view and mentality were different, as well as the manner of speech and colloquial language.  Rather than dismiss an old story as outdated, it could instead offer valuable insight into the development of society and challenge one’s own opinions on certain issues.

just one of many books from recent decades 
containing "social commentary" reflecting
 the decade in which it was written.
Unless your next story is purely for light entertainment and relaxation, you might like to look for the moral, concept or insight it offers, and let it enrich you.  Do you agree with the actions and emotional responses of the main characters?  Why, or why not?  Does the viewpoint of a character from a past time period annoy or offend?  Why, and why was that viewpoint not offensive at the time?  

Whatever format and age your next story will be, may it be a personally rewarding and satisfying journey!

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