The art of story-telling

Writing is one branch of story-telling, and the study of good writing is mostly a study of good story-telling technique. Once you have got to grips with grammar, and mastered the whole “i before e” thing, writing is about the art of telling your story.

This doesn’t just apply to fiction. Everything from the driest factual treatise to most lurid sword-and-sorcery epic needs to have a structure in order to allow the reader to grasp the author’s intent. As previously mentioned, a piece of writing has a lot in common with a piece of music. Without structure, music is just so much noise. Without structure, a piece of writing is virtually unintelligible. Human beings like patterns, and feel uncomfortable around that which is truly random. Look at the vast efforts expended by mathematicians to find some pattern to pi, for example.

A structured piece of story-telling, whether in words, music, pictures or any combination of these media, will typically have one over-arching theme. Within this theme may be many smaller patterns; repeated, reflected and inverted as the teller pleases. However, they should all have some connection both to each other and to the main theme. Most languages have a wide variety of conjunctions available to make these connections. Music and dance have “linking” themes and steps which help one movement flow seamlessly into the next. All forms of communication rely to some extent on these linking techniques. In writing, good links are made by using the appropriate linking word or phrase and arranging ideas so that they move progressively from A to B.

The introduction needs to give an idea of the over-arching theme. This then leads into the first idea and the first detail. The story should then progress towards the final idea, threading its way through the intermediate steps in a logical order. For a piece of non-fiction, this structure is usually sufficient. Introduction, argument, conclusion, the end. Very satisfactory. Fiction, however, may take certain liberties with this layout. A writer of fiction may chose to start the narrative somewhere in the middle of the story, then flash backwards and forwards along the time stream. Even here, though, the story follows a logical order; if not a chronological one. The reader is carried along the story arc smoothly, the twists and turns adding to the story rather than confusing it.

To become a good writer, it is necessary to study all types of story-telling. To see how the rules are applied, and broken, by the past masters of the craft; and the present masters, for that matter. Writing is about telling your story, transmitting it as smoothly as possible from your mind to that of your reader. There are stories everywhere, and the more you read, hear and see the better you will become at telling your own stories.

Link of the week:

Writing .com


0 Responses to “The art of story-telling”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

December 2008
« Nov   Feb »

Recent Comments

  • 90 hits so far

Top Clicks

  • None

%d bloggers like this: