Friday, 24 October 2014

Why Tell Stories? Just Listen.

I discussed the art of storytelling via a series of ghost tales with one of my classes today.

Everyone likes a good story. I said.


What makes a "good" story?

What puts bums in seats at theatres and cinemas? What puts clicks on pages? What puts games on screens? What puts that good old-fashioned paper copy in hand?

What passes words from mouth to ear to mouth again?

Detailed descriptions.

It doesn't have to be much. Just the gory bits. The juicy tidbits. The scandalous. The contreversial.

Everyone likes a good moaning session around the water-cooler, about so and so, after all.

Next comes suspense. Tension. Cliff-hangers.

Don't pass everything out like the houses no one goes to on Halloween because they are too far out.
Hold pieces back. Don't tell the whole story. Leave people hanging, wondering and forming their own thoughts.

But don't give people too much time to think. Prompt reactions.

Intrigue sells.

But so does hate.

I've been rather tangled up in teaching as of late. Coming home after work consists of me gorging on food and sweets, shoving my nose up a book or a favourite drama series I am catching up on. Weekends consist of early morning train trips to somewhere and midnight trips back, exhausted, but happy to have gone wandering in some place other than Bury St Edmunds. It's half-term today however and I found myself sauntering over to Twitter, through various news sites I follow ( and in addition to what happened to pop up on the front page of

Basically it boils down to this: humans live and die by emotion.

Graveyards are a testiment to emotion, as a place for the living far more than the dead.

 Whether it is the pit of misogyny wrapped up in "journalistic ethics" around gaming and female involvement which has been flaming about since summer; #gamergate or it is a shooting on Parliament Hill of a ceremonial soldier in Ottawa, down to kid's poking eachother with pens, humans act on their emotions. Not logic. (Generally).

However, being that these moments are very spontaneous and sudden and humans also relish the preservation of things (though this is me speaking generally again as there are certainly cultures that aren't obsessive about preservation), stories get created, formed, told.

Told and told until they end up like a game of chinese whispers or telephone. They end up nothing like the orginal event, story, sentence or word.

Maybe I am apathetic. Maybe I am just laid back. Maybe I am too open to listening to all sides. That is why I don't engage in feminist discussions with a teacher at my school who is a major activist, or why I steer off of certain discussions on Twitter or Facebook. It's why this blog isn't all over media sites. I don't do conflict. Except in my own fiction.

What is the point in wasting time with arguing, with acting in the flame of the moment, when mroe productive things could be accomplished; solving those disagreements, those inequities and inequalities.

Instead of eating up the words told to us by others we need to start forming out own sentences.

We need to start seeing the world for what it is to us, not what it is to someone on the other side of a desk and laptop.

That is why I am travelling.

So, here's an observation of the people I have gotten to know in Bury St Edmunds. They don't travel. They haven't travelled. 85% of them have never been out of England.

I mean England. As in, they have never even crossed to Wales, or tripped up to Scotland. Heading to Scotland is like me driving from Vernon to Vancouver. Then again, I have never been passed Alberta. I still have many places to visit and many observations to make before I can fully make judgements or develop opinions.

Then again, that learning will never end. Nor will it for you, if you don't let, end, that is. Don't let the media replace good old fashioned observation.


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