IT’S THE WAY I TELL ‘EM

The detail is often irrelevant.

Now I recognise that you’ve got to have detail when telling a story but when you really get down to it, so often, it’s the broad strokes which stick with us and can make or break what we’re reading. Merely loading anything you write with a huge dump of information has more potential to just become a droning monotone for the person on the receiving end so there’s a great deal more to the process of storytelling than just stringing the events together.

Now with that in mind, we all know someone who’s terrible at telling stories or jokes and we all know someone who is just great at it. Both of them could tell the same story, use the same words, yet one would weave the most engaging tale while the other would just recite the words and suck all the life from them.

Think about the following.

Daddy, somebody’s at the door. He’s collecting for the district’s new indoor swimming pool.
Ok, give him a bucket of water then.

Not the most ground-breaking piece of comedy the world has ever seen but in the hands of a person who can cast a spell with the words, it can become more nuanced, more weighty. In the hands of the other person it could become a block of concrete, and a bland one at that.

Before the advent of the written languages which are spread over the world, the histories and tales of the human race were passed down thanks to the spoken word. Oral histories were reliant on the stories being memorable. If they were dry and soulless it’s fair to say that they could have been quickly lost to the sands of time but for the powers of those who recounted the tales. It was up to them to always draw the audience into whatever story they were telling, to grasp the minds of everyone within earshot so the story would live out in the realms of so very many others. The added element of the storyteller became vital.

There are comedians and raconteurs the world over and they make sure that everyone around them hangs on their every word. So often the most successful politicians are the ones who can make the words they speak dance and whirl rather than just relying on the message. I’ve included an example which I feel shows perfectly exactly how immersive a well told story can be. If you don’t watch all of this clip, you really are missing out on a wonderful example.

Taken from YouTube channel ‘Cheeky Chap’

So today I raise a glass to the storytellers, who have always been able to make everything that much more interesting.

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OLD STORY TELLER

I’ve been unwell.

I’m sure my wife will be the first to tell you that I’m not good when I’m unwell. Very often I can push through but this last week or so I’ve been bunged up with all kinds of nastiness meaning I can’t hear and I’m dizzy as hell. I’ve been to the doctor and it was there that I saw a very interesting site.

Sat in the office waiting for my turn in with the doctor and just listened to the goings on, I heard a couple of people chatting. To be fair it started out as one person talking ‘at’ someone else but then the conversation started in earnest.

An elderly man began to explain details of his life to another member of the public and all kinds of bits and pieces of history tumbled out into the wheeze and cough filled air of the doctor’s waiting room. I listened to stories from the war, tales of funny goings on and everything in between and all the way through it was incredibly clear that the story teller was having a wonderful time recounting all of the details from his life and I listened on and really enjoyed just witnessing the love of the story.

But we all have the same feeling in us. We all want to be heard in some way or another. Being listened to is such a simple thing yet is so easily overlooked. All through our lives we clamour for people to pay attention to what we have to say, almost just as a proof to us that we both exist and matter.

Today we see so many different methods for people to communicate with each other, to have people listen to what someone else has to say. Blogging is a great example. It’s just a way for me to have the chance to explain my thoughts, to lay my ideas open and connect with anyone who wants to read them.

As a writer, my stories are all a way for me to connect. A way for me to spread the ideas that I have and just know that others can recognise them as something worth taking notice of, a proof that I exist and matter.

As I walked in to see the doctor, the old story teller was still going strong and the person who he’d started out just talking ‘at’ was now totally engaged in what was taking place. And the story teller looked like he was happy to exist and matter.

Shouldn’t we all?

GREATEST?

How many books have you received as gifts at this time of year, during your lifetime? Can you remember all of them? Were they all good? No doubt we can all remember a handful of stories but what is it that makes the really good ones stand out in our minds?

At this time of year, the story of Christmas is waved around and we all recognise the details because we’ve all heard them all before so many times. So many people around the world will just ‘know’ what the details are and what the sub-text of the story is. Could you imagine having that kind of reach as an author? J.K.Rowling and then some.

Now the point of this post isn’t to make any kind of comment regarding religion, rather an investigation of longevity.

Religions are a great example of how people spread the word on a specific topic, drawing others into the shared mindset. Peoples have also passed the details of stories down through the years. The oral tradition in so many cultures has allowed for all those stories within said culture to be sent through the ages without the need for a written text. Written histories have replaced the spoken but they still perform the same function, allowing the cultural significance to be carried on.

Today, familial, national and international stories are passed around and there are more and more ways for those stories to pass from one person to the next but ease of passing has no weight on a stories longevity.

Tales of communities were given from generation to generation as part of a rite of passage, religions have been handed on as the keys to a better life but also under the threat of untold agony in the here after, and in ages gone by, this life as well.

So it would appear that a strong fan base is the way to go. If I can have fans helping me spread the word, an ever growing group of people spreading the word for me and extolling the virtues of my stories, maybe I’ll be able to have the stories of mine reaching out and lasting for who knows how long.

Enjoy the silly season everyone, and if you’re at a loss for a gift idea, give The Circle of Fire a go.

Spread the word.