Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Importance of Storytelling

Happy times!
It is Mother's Day in the UK and this photo is one of my fondest memories and epitomises her. Full of wine and laughter. But she was also a great story teller. I was her carer and after her lunch and a couple of glasses of wine she would regale me with stories of her childhood and her life as a WRN during the Second World War. She did some amazing things. I have used some of these memories in a short story I have written for adults and which I finally finished this week.I have entered it into a competition just because I felt I owed it to her to do something with it.

It made me think me think about storytelling and how important in our lives it is. There was a fascinating article, which was brought to my attention by JW, entitled 'The Science of Storytelling: Why telling a story is the powerful way to activate the brain' by Leo Wildrich. I for one know I learn so much more when the lecturer used anecdotes to illustrate their point. It brings the idea to life. I can look for things that relate to me - make the connections. Storytelling, in numerous forms, has been one of the most fundamental communication methods since the world began. Stories provide affirmation that our lives have meaning. It is all about making the connections between cause and effect. Perhaps this is why we, as writers, like to read or hear about authors and their experience of becoming published. We want to find bits of us that we can relate to in that story that means we will get a chance to be published.

By telling stories we can plant ideas, thoughts, coping strategies and emotion into the reader's brain. I have written about this previously in various posts about contentious issues in young adult fiction etc in my blog already. After all it was my PhD. When writing, regardless of whether it is YAF, children or writing for adults, I believe it is important that you are not aiming to write a lesson/lecture instead you need to be writing a good story. One that the reader can climb into and become so involved that they are living the story. They need to care about the characters and what is going to happen to them. With any good story it also gives them a chance to think how they would react in any given situation amidst the page turning safety of a book. However, readers don't want to be told how to react. They want to work it out for themselves. You, as the writer, just gives them the clues. As such stories should never be predictable. There should be an element of anticipation but also a good dose of uncertainty that means they are not convinced they know exactly what will happen.

Stories continue to be an important part of my life. I love writing them and I love telling them. I am trying to emulate those lecturers who inspired me the most by telling anecdotal lectures. Stories are the food of life after all.

This is for my Mummy. I still miss her every day. This was her favourite film for a very long time. It brings back some very happy memories of when she was really well and happy.I have many stories I could tell about that time. Is it wine time?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Vanessa, great post! We don't have mother's day until May, so I get to celebrate my mom twice!