Friday, July 13, 2012

STORY TIME


Photo by Sean Pavone Dreamstime.com
     A friend of mine told me that when she was a little girl, her parents would see a motion picture every Saturday night. When they returned home, she would snuggle between them and say, “Tell me the story.” Her parents told her about the stars who portrayed the characters, how the plot unfolded, and the location where the action took place. After their narrative came to the end, she would say, “That was pretty good. Now tell me the story the way you want it to happen.”
     Writers are like my friend. We listen to stories, watch people as they pass, eavesdrop on conversations, and store memories good and bad for future use. We think about the premise, a story line, the foibles of each character, sometimes an ending that will surprise us as well as our characters but an ending that is true, plausible and inevitable while keeping in mind that an ending based on fact may be unbelievable on the page.
     Our job is to create a story for our readers that will let them relate to characters that are, funny, sad, desperate, and cruel—characters motivated to walk down the path we’ve set for them to accomplish their fictional reality. An ending that will make the reader think—Yes. That’s the way it had to happen.
     People have been telling tales since the days our ancestors sat around their camp fires and elaborated on the hunt, the wild beasts they challenged or another clan they would conquer. Stories told verbally—legends, fairy tales, folklore are passed from generation to generation—each adding their own spin. Tales are told and endure. Tales of Big Foot, the Fountain of Youth, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Romulus and Remus, Romeo and Juliet and William Tell. Legends—a starting place for folklore—incorporates history, culture and particular societies. Narratives in the Western world include children’s rhymes and ghost stories and religions all begin with the premise of a greater power before they take different paths.
     What stories do you remember being told by your parents, grandparents, and friends? How many do we share?
Bests,
Elise


8 comments:

Rita said...

Elise, we were told stories by the adults. My cousins and I were asked to tell stories to them. It was entertainment time at my aunts house almost every Sunday evening. If you didn't tell a story had to sing a song or dance.

Cathy Perkins said...

Neither of my parents told many stories about their childhoods. Both grew up during the Depression and I think they preferred to move forward. From the few they did share, I wish they'd told more - deeply personal stories of survival

Elise Warner said...

Rita, I usually sang at family gatherings. Made up stories with my cousins. One was always the Queen and we were peasants. Cathy, my folks survived the deprression too. My mom by elaborating on stories.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I always thought we weren't much of a storytelling family, but really, we sat around the dinner table every night and told stories of our respective days. The best storyteller among us was my youngest sister, whose stories always touched on the absurd and had us smiling in anticipation before she even started. When we would catch our parents in a particular mood, we would get their stories of growing up on the farm, or in boarding school, of rural life in New Brunswick and Quebec. It was quite wonderful, actually. It felt like we were reaching back through time to touch the young people they used to be.

Jean Harrington said...

Here's a twist on the question, Elise. When my brother, who s several years younger than I, was little I used to tell him bedtime stories. so guess I was the storyteller in the family. Maybe I still am!

Maureen A. Miller said...

My mom had one of those hanging lamps...you know the ones from the 70's, with straw chains. Anyway, she would spin the lamp around and start a tale, and then it was my turn to spin the lamp and pick up where she left off. She taught me to be imaginative at a very early age.

Elise Warner said...

Marcelle,Jean, Maureen:

I'd love to hear your family stories. Perhaps we should each do a blog about a tale we were told.

Toni Anderson said...

I grew up on stories about the war and the army. Perhaps this explains why I love military heroes :)