When storytelling, we gather thoughts and feelings from the decades of experience in order to channel our audience in a particular direction. This is why storytelling is an art. Storytelling can be used to teach, convey values and entertain. Irish culture has historically been famous for storytelling. In an age of “click that button” on the Internet, we are often fuzzy on the difference between storytelling and documenting the story. They are not the same thing, nor do they necessarily serve the same purpose.
Understanding Your Audience
Where many people misunderstand storytelling is they think too literal. They forget about perception. My perception of this event, in this time, at that place, is this way. Now that perception can change over the years. The wisdom in storytelling is identifying your audience and what message you wish to teach. Your details always vary, based upon your targeted audience. So who is your audience? Storytelling to a five year old is not the same as storytelling to an adult.
The understanding of your audience is also crucial to how you approach storytelling. Abuse, neglect, poverty, violence and death can be turned into powerful teaching tools, if approached correctly. By gauging where your audience is at with emotional issues, this allows you to construct the storytelling accordingly. Then through the storytelling, lessons about compassion, faith, endurance and overcoming can replace anger, resentment and bitterness. At that point, the lesson can override the traumatic events themselves. The events only act as the introduction to the moral lesson.
Storytelling as Myth
The moral lessons are always more powerful than the facts you are presenting in the narrative.
Remember, “unalterable facts” can always be deconstructed by somebody holding a better piece of evidence. Storytelling by its very nature is supposed to be myth. Myth does not always mean untrue or lie. It can be beyond true and false. A good myth holds solid moral lessons which teach, and instruct using storytelling as the matrix to convey deeper meaning. A good myth also stands the test of time. It is not the myth but the message of the myth that fuels the storytelling. This is not hard science and should not be thought of that way.
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