The Art of Story Telling… 

Recently, I have read several novels in which the art of the story teller–oral storytelling–was celebrated. As most people do, I love to hear a good story told. Or perhaps even a bad story told in an interesting, mesmerizing, or dramatic way–one that snags the listener and holds him or her captive to the end. 

Great story telling is an art form. It involves the use of the teller’s voice, words, plan of sequence, cadence, body language, ability to live the story, acting ability, and many nuances of voice, body, and mind that I cannot even begin to put into words. A great story teller paints an image and adds ambiance that puts the listener not only into the story, but into the very setting in which the story takes place. The listener becomes a participant–or at very least a passionate and involved on-the-scene observer–of all that is taking place. 

So much of such story telling ability is involved in good writing, as well. Think back to the books you have read that remain in your mind or as part of your life for years and years after you finished reading the last page. The book may have ended, but the subject and environment of the book remain as part of you, as though you had been part of the experience. The story becomes part of your own memory of personal or observed experiences. Such is the mark of a truly great book. 

As the great story teller is a rarity in contemporary society, so is the great writer. Many of us write, and consider ourselves great writers. But so few of us have a following of readers who are mesmerized by what we put to paper or screen. Most of us write for the pleasure of seeing our words in print, and maybe with a story that we think is particularly clever. Blogging is a great means by which to get ourselves–our little works of art–out and about to faithful or fitfull readers (assuming we have a readership beyond family and close friends). Is the reason we are relatively obscure because we don’t have the talent to tell a really great story? Or is it because we do not have a following of readers–we have not put ourselves out there or out far enough? Or have we not adequately set the scene, with fragrances and background sounds, with the right ambiance, or a word painting of the place and time? Have we missed something in our description? Have we inadvertently changed our tone? Did we fail to note how the setting makes us feel? 

I don’t have the answer to this. My writing is mediocre and mundane. I write because I enjoy seeing my words and ideas on paper or device screen, whether anyone else reads my words or not. I don’t have the talent of a great and gifted story teller. But I can certainly learn from the masters and polish my words and style to become better. What I share is practice, just like the beginning student art work I sometimes share. Silently, I am asking you: Have I improved? Is this piece something you will remember or identify with? Is my style so prosaic as to be unworthy of the space it takes up? Do you think I will get better? or worse?? Might my future posts be worth a read? 

Or maybe I am asking: Do you like me? 

If only I had the time to practice more, and more often…



About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
This entry was posted in Writing process. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Art of Story Telling… 

  1. jabrush1213 says:

    Thanks for this article on story telling.

    • DrEMiller says:

      Thank you for noticing it. The piece makes just a beginning to how I feel about writing and story telling–and visual arts, for that matter. There is writing and visual arts that I really don’t like, but have been so compelling that I will never forget the emotional force. In art, The Scream is a very troubling painting to me, yet it is so compelling that I see it before my eyes at the oddest times. Joyce Carol Oats’ Bellefleur (sp?) was a piece I slogged through only to have its themes and scenes flash before me as I observe lonely fields and shabby old Victorian mansions. One does not need to enjoy a piece for it to be masterful and commanding. That is the power of a story teller.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s