Fictional stories are silly things, if you think about it. Imagine crying your eyes out over over a few pages about someone that never existed in real life. A storyteller may share a series of imaginary events about characters that make an audience cry, laugh, or become angry. Within those imaginary events, there will be a beginning, middle, and an end; however, there is no compelling reason to tell a story in that order if a storyteller so chooses. A good story will cause an audience to take off their skins and put on the skin of one or more characters from that narrative. Better yet, that audience may do more than put on a character’s skin. They may take on the character’s struggle, feel the characters emotions, and even take on a character’s transformation. When a storyteller has done a good job, we the audience emerge back to our own skins with some, or all, of that character’s transformation intact. Stories can be powerful things.
Like any other writer, I want to create stories that invite readers to change their skin for a while. It’s not my wish to make them someone else, or indoctrinate them (though there are plenty of authors that do). My desire, as an author, is to contribute something worthwhile that allows a reader to grow beyond who they were before they picked up my story. How do you do that? It’s really hard. More importantly, how do you do it well? That’s even harder.
Let me qualify that last question. People can sometimes confuse the “How” and “What.” After all, they’re not the same thing. If the “what” isn’t clear, you don’t always ask correct “how” questions. I can know “what” I wan my story to do, like be exciting, but I may not know the steps to get it there. In truth, when it comes to the “how” and “what” of storytelling there are many different approaches. In the series of forthcoming blogs, I want to share some rhetorical devices and how they can be used to accomplish your “what”.
These devices aren’t difficult, but they require a lot of practice to work right. So to prime the pump of sharing, tell me in concrete words:
- What makes a character so compelling to you that you want to be them for a while?
- What character would you like to be?
Be warned, if you answer with broad general adjectives, I may ask for clarification to your response.
NEXT MONTH: Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain or “I’m Not a Bad Man, Just a Bad Writer.”