Telling Tales

Abu Shady the last professional hakawati
or traditional storyteller in Syria 
In most cultures, the storyteller has an honoured place. Abu Shady here sits in the Al-Nawfara Coffee Shop Damascus. The reciter of Beowulf would have been given a warm spot by the fire. The whole horde in the great hall would fall silent when the first word 'Hwæt' was spoken and the well-known story 'held children from play'.

As the Anglo-Saxons knew, poetry helped people recite stories - through rhythm and alliteration, or rhyme. Movements and gesture, dance and other arts have all been used to convey the memory and wisdom of tribes through narrative. Engaging deeply with stories avoids the risk of that wisdom becoming trite, of becoming a stream of sound-bites only fit for tacky 'inspirational' posters. It is the shared going-through that embeds the sentiment in us - and the learning.

Kathak dancer - 'that which tells a story, that is 'Kathak'
Creative Commons
Story explores consequences. We learn their truths alongside our heroes and heroines, villains and tricksters, perplexed lovers and redeemed souls. A change of heart cannot be believed unless we truly know that heart and its many ways.

A burnt hand teaches best...
                                                                                  it is said, yet when we truly live through a story, we share the learning without the worst of any pain or scarring. Storytellers, whether through words or pictures or both, invite their tribe to involve themselves in the drama. For our readers or viewers, gamers or listeners, the story must engage before any experience can happen. We owe it to them to use as much skill and honesty as we can. Otherwise, why bother? How else can we earn our place beside the hearth?

'Fireside' by Joseph Henry_Sharp, c.1900
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A suggestion
You may wish to keep this exercise private - even so , I promise you that the emotions you evoke will strengthen your creativity.

Think back to something you learned the hard way.

What were your hopes - and what were your fears? What drove you to that point? Recall as many sounds and smells as you can. What about the time of day, the weather? Can you remember anything you touched or tasted?

Tell that story back to yourself in whatever way you find best. You might like to use a different persona if it's a really painful memory - or change one significant detail to take some of  the sting out of it. The important thing is the emotional sequence of that story - and its resolution in something learned.

K. M. Lockwood is a writing name of Philippa R. Francis. As well as being a regular contributor, Philippa (@lockwoodwriter) is also part of the Words & Pictures team as the @Words8Pictures Tweetmaster, growing our following and maintaining our 'Industry news' feed.


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