Disregard Fixing a Formula in Telling a Story

Written by : Joe Ma. Carlos

Storytelling as an art may not follow any set principles  to be able to draw people’s interest. If storytellers do, then their narratives will look alike and will be devoid of diversity.

 

“ Set principles will cripple variety of narration. But at the same time we have to accept that all narratives follow a scheme, pattern and style for ease of delivery, acceptance and understanding. We may call them loose principles,”  according to Mr Abhaya Kumar Padhi, author and media trainer from India.

 

Mr Padhi offered this perspective during the AIBD/CCTV Masterclass on Storytelling, Principles, Methods and Aims as a pre-summit activity to the Asia Media Summit 2018 held in New Delhi from 8-9 May 2018.

 

In his presentation, he identified some of these ‘loose’ principles.

 

One is about the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ by both the storyteller and the audience.

 

Two, decide whom, where and why to tell a story and who be the narrator. Is the narrator a stranger or a familiar person? A person familiar to the listeners is more credible and acceptable.

 

Three, stories are mostly told to friends. Strangers are not precluded from listening. After all we meet as strangers first and become friends later through the link of a story told.

 

Four, a story must have  a location, a time, and a situation must be there.

 

Five, multisyllabic, erudite, pedagogic words are better avoided; they tend to over-intellectualise and philosophise. No qualifying is necessary. Otherwise, the story may turn into lessons on ethics and morality sermonised and delivered from a pulpit. 

 

Six, bring in contrasting ideas, characters and situations, and juxtapose them by placing them together. Let them come into conflict and collide. In posing two opposing ideas, a whole new idea will be created. 

 

Seven, stories are all about experience and idea. Reflect on that original idea captured your imagination. Pass it on to the listeners as if it were a flame with warmth and light.

 

Eight, All storytellers are vulnerable to doubts expressed by the audience. Dare to share their doubts and face them with candid emotion of your story. Be bold enough to ask your audience what you questioned along the way so they too share your doubt, confusion, anguish, anger, sorrow, joy, insight and delight.

 

And nine, be a part of the entire process but do not become a part of the story even if per chance it is about you. This may take away the credibility factor. Autobiographies may make good reading but they lack the imaginative character of fiction.

 

Mr Padhi  also discussed the aims of storytelling, emphasizing that all stories or narrativesare shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moraland ethical values.

 

“ Stories largely strive to establish an ethical human civilisation. The mundane, the profane, the celestial, the cosmic and the earthly – all narrated through stories are better understood and appreciated. The Greek principle of catharsis in drama comes into play equally in stories,” he said.

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