Tell Me A Story
Have you ever asked somebody how their day was? What you are really saying to them is “Tell me a story.”
The power of a story is that it has the ability to connect people on an emotional level. When was the last time you told a story to somebody? Think back to the last time you interacted with another person: you were telling a story!
When we tell stories, we typically reflect on our own life experiences. In fact, our stories are so unique because only you can tell that story in the same fashion.
Let’s think back to the time you started to tell stories. For me, I would create comics called “The Smileys” with a few friends in elementary school. “The Smileys” was about two stick-figure characters. The top panel would depict a stick figure that did a daily thing normally, and the bottom panel would depict a stick figure that tried to do a daily thing but many zany things would happen to him along the way.
I remember that I would skip out of recess to write these comics with my friends. We would then share them around the class, and we loved seeing all of the people giggle at the comics.
Nowadays, I find it’s easiest to get inspiration for a story based off of my daily experiences and my emotions attached to them.
Think back to your grandparents and the stories they would tell you. Have you ever wondered how many times they’ve told a certain story? The fact is, we might tell a story once and it might not sound like a great story at first. It’s not until we continually retell the story that we can bring it to perfection.
I remember back when I was a kid, my great-uncle would always tell this story about how when they were kids, he and my grandma would go pony riding and she startled the pony to the point where the pony bucked and hit my great-uncle in the face with its hoof. He told this story so many times that I could almost repeat it verbatim.
The funny thing is, he has told that story so many times that whenever he retells it at a family reunion, he will go to the bathroom and put some makeup on in the shape of a horseshoe, which he covers with a hat. When he goes in for the punchline, he turns around and takes his hat off to reveal the horseshoe, which almost always makes me laugh.
What makes a story your favorite story? Is it the way the storyteller told it? Was it the emotions the story made you feel when hearing it? Was it the thoughts the story provoked when you first heard it?
My favorite stories tend to come with heavy emotions. They tend to make me feel an emotion I normally do not feel.
One notable example I’ve seen recently was from the movie Up, in which the couple get married, fix up their house, go on picnics, attempt to have a child, fail to have a child, plan to save up for a trip instead, run into life troubles that require that money, get older and forget about the trip, the old man remembers the trip to surprise the woman, she falls ill and passes away…somebody has been cutting onions again.
What if we transformed a story we’ve heard into something we’ve always wondered. Like, “What if Harry Potter did not have his two trusty friends Ron and Hermione? Scenarios like this help us creatively develop a story.
You can think of a “What If?” statement being connected to a world and a character.
World “What If”s:
- What if magic didn’t exist in Harry Potter?
- What if toys could not come to life in Toy Story?
Character “What If”s:
- What if the Beast was not cursed in Beauty and the Beast?
- What if Mufasa survived in The Lion King?
You can think of the world as an environment that has a set of defined rules of what can take place. Characters are typically the subjects or individuals that we follow on the journey of the story.
Most stories tend to have a world that leads a story and includes a metaphor that we can grasp onto.
In our previous example from Up, the world is quite grounded in nature. The metaphor we can grasp onto is to explore and experience things before it’s too late.
Not every idea is going to be great, but that’s okay. It’s about trial and error and being able to invest yourself in your ideas. What you should care about is the fact that you enjoy doing it in the first place. Practice makes perfect, and in the long term you’ll be happy that you shared your ideas.