01
Oct
09

What It Means To Be A Storyteller

Storytelling is one form of art that transcends medium. Whether in books, ballads, plays, or movies – even in sculptures, photographs or paintings – someone is telling a story. Someone is talking of life. Not Life on a grand scale but life in bits and pieces; seemingly mundane moments that give us glimpses of a bigger picture. Fleeting and ephemeral, once captured by an artist they are immortalized and frozen in time, lending themselves to be shared with other lives as well.

While different stories have vastly different scopes, the time it takes to tell a story somehow falls within a relatively narrow range. Most books have a few hundred pages and most movies last a few hours, but the stories they tell could either cover decades of world history – or a single eventful night in the lives of two people. And yet a beautifully told story is never a page too long, never a minute too short. It’s just as it should be.

Since storytelling time is limited, the story has to be compromised between breadth and depth. Naturally, epic tales cannot get too much into the individual lives of the characters, just as love stories seldom wander far beyond the interaction of a few people. But the storyteller somehow manages to piece the two together in perfect balance of breadth and depth, the former a background of the latter. And while not every second of the story can be told, the storyteller speeds up time and slows it down at just the right moments so that precious minutes are neither wasted nor skimped.

Imagine telling the story of a certain civilization and how it came about. If one were not to miss out a tiny detail, the story could not be finished within the listener’s lifetime, and so the trick is to secure only the salient points. On the other hand, a story that takes place within a shorter time than it takes to read it has to have something really interesting to sustain the reader’s attention. If every single moment, every spoken word is worthy of mention, telling the story will take just as long as the story itself. Now put every deep emotion, every unspoken thought, every subtle gesture, and there you have a story bigger than how it would have been in real life. inner minds

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1 Response to “What It Means To Be A Storyteller”


  1. 1 monk
    October 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I like this post 🙂

    As a writer, I find that the most important job of the author is to focus on what your target audience would likely appreciate when doing the narration. A story can be told from a hundred different angles and its up to a good writer to find the right one, fine-tune the exposition, tweak the pacing, and give more time on the spotlight to the memorable characters and plots.

    Have you read Gregory Maguire’s books? He did a series of books which remade popular fairy tales from the point of view of the villains and/or minor characters. The result is a totally different story from the ones we’re familiar with. He also plays with what happens after the “happily ever after”.


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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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