Wednesday, May 3, 2006


What is it about story? A well crafted one can transport us to another time, another place, another world even. A story told well enough can make us forget where we are as we become someone else and see life through someone else's eyes. Story is a fantastic way not only to entertain, but to enlighten, educate, mold, inspire — to change the audience by siezing their imagination and taking it for a ride.

Story is also a means of communication and connection. Think back to long conversations you have had with friends. How much of those conversations consisted of stories you told each other about your lives, or stories you both experienced that you remembered together? Common experiences, common bonds. Without us even noticing, the stories people tell us about themselves teach us about those people...what is important to them, how they react, how they think, who they are. When we relive shared memories, we are reminded of the bonds we share (both joyous and painful). Even intellectual discussions are a form of story: it's retelling the narrative of what goes on inside our heads, once again giving people a glimpse of a world they would never get to see and revealing to them more of what makes us who we are.

But story isn't entirely about what we share with other people. Story also gives us insight into ourselves (if we know where and how to look). What are the stories that fascinate you more than any other? The ones that you can't get out of your head, the ones that can hold you enthralled for hours? Who are the characters that captivate you? For me, in the world of fiction, it's TV series like Farscape and The Pretender, books like Ender's Game, Dune, and The Lord of the Rings, movies like Gattaca, Frequency, and many others that never fail to entertain and move me. In the real world, the most amazing and personally significant story is that of Jesus Christ. If you knew where to look in the stories that are important to me, you would know almost as much about me as I do (however much that is). If I knew where to look in the stories (fictional or non) that are important to you, I could learn a lot about you too. So where do you look? Look at the common themes of your favorite stories, and the conflicts all your favorite characters struggle with. You might be surprised at what you find.

Stories don't have to be high art to be great stories, they just have to contain that element that you connect to. So what are the stories that are important to you?

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