25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling (AKA, "Why I Love Stories")
1. Stories Have Power
Outside the air we breathe and the blood in our bodies, the one thing that connects us modern humans today with the shamans and emperors and serfs and alien astronauts of our past is a heritage — a lineage — of stories. Stories move the world at the same time they explain our place in it. They help us understand ourselves and those near to us. Never treat a story as a shallow, wan little thing. A good story is as powerful as the bullet fired from an assassin’s gun.
2. Effect Above Entertainment
We love to be entertained. Bread and circuses! Clowns and monkeys! Decapitations and ice cream! A good story entertains but a great story knows that it has in its arsenal the ability to do so much more. The best stories make us feel something. They fuck with our emotions. They make us give a flying fuck about characters and places and concepts that don’t exist and won’t ever exist. The way a story stabs us with sadness, harangues us with happiness, runs us through the gauntlet of rage and jealousy and denial and underoo-shellacking lust and fear (together, lust and fear may stir a “scaredy-boner”) is parallel to none. Anybody can entertain. A juggler entertains. A storyteller makes us feel something. Makes us give a shit when we have no good reason to do so. Fun is not the last stop on the story train. The storyteller is master manipulator. The storyteller is cackling puppetmaster.
3. A Good Story Is A Good Story Regardless Of Genre Or Form
Segmentation. Checking off little boxes. Putting stories in the appropriate story slots and narrative cubby-holes. Is it a sci-fi TV show? A fantasy novel? A superhero comic? A video game about duck hunting? An ARG about the unicorn sex trade? We like to think that the walls we throw up matter. But they’re practically insubstantial, and once you get them in your mouth they’re like cotton candy, melting away to a meaningless slurry. Good story is good story. Those who cleave to genre and form — whether as teller or as audience — limit the truth and joy the tale can present. Cast wide and find great stories everywhere.
4. That’s Not To Say Form Doesn’t Matter
Story is also not a square peg jammed in a circle hole. Every tale has an organic fit. The medium matters in that it lets you operate within known walls and described boundaries.
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