My Idea of Stories

I can’t say I’ve personally defined what a story is or even considered what items/pieces make up a story. So as I wrote down what I think a story is, the first thing I placed on my scrap paper was this..

..Beginning and End..

I sat and looked at this for a moment then realized that I possibly just defined what a story is in three words! Can it be that simple? What happens between the beginning and the end? Well if I wanted to be stubborn or picky, I could argue that the “beginning” and the “end” in this context are simply all that’s needed because without one of these there is no story. However, although I agree that the beginning and the end are not mutually exclusive, what occurs in between these two is what makes the beginning and end stand out and ultimately what makes the story shine.

I also noted that stories can come in a number of variations from real-life to complete science fiction. They solicit different emotional characteristics from feeling happy, excited, angry, to being sad. Although one story may possess many emotions, I feel as though all stories end with just one.

When I thought of storytelling the first visual that came to mind was a grade teacher, sitting on a rocking chair, having “story time” with his/her students. I have associated storytelling with the literal act of someone talking out loud and sharing either an experience they had or reading a third party source. I have never thought of it being “digital.” But with how technology (particularly the internet) has taken over the way we communicate, I am not surprised the concept of “Digital Storytelling” has emerged. When I think of this, the first thing that comes to mind is social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter. The fact that someone is updating their Facebook status or “tweeting” throughout the day, can actually encompass a story. Their entire day, week, month, and year becomes a story saved “digitally.” People are telling their stories, from being sad to being happy again, over and over again, displaying times of good fortune and bad. If there was anything that relates to what shapes a story as explained in Kurt Vonnegut’s approach, it would be how people are using social media today. People are storytelling all day, but indirectly and to an undetermined audience. They are slowly revealing pieces of a larger story that could in the end become an implication to privacy or even cause misinterpretations of one’s reputation.

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5 thoughts on “My Idea of Stories

  1. “Beginning and End” is good, Chris- I have read many articles that say it is “Beginning Middle and End” — is there such a thing in social media? Are our lives a story?

    All good thoughts, and I look forward to see how your ideas emerge or focus in the next 7 weeks.

  2. I think beginning&ending is a great, streamlined story definition, simple, with all the excess boiled off. But if you encountered a story with just a beginning and ending–Jack with five beans, then Jack with the golden goose–would it be compelling? Might it occasionally seem incomprehensible?

    I think another way to put your point is that a story must involve movement, or change. It must begin in place A and end in place B. And even if they’re almost the same place, some shift has to have occurred.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  3. When I wrote my article about what story telling is I had never thought about social media and story telling. I am impressed you did.

    Like cogdog I immediately linked the social media part to the beginning and end part.

  4. Thank you, Stefanie. I realized that how people the way people post, how often, and if there is any consistent theme or concept to them may reveal pieces of an overall story.

  5. Enjoy your posts. I wonder if ‘stories’ are escaping shapes and beginnings and ending on social media and through the digital?
    Perhaps twitter and facebook streams are somewhat akin to Dickens where chapters were published in magazines, episodic, like Dexter. (Dickens does have a beginning and end but I guess some folk followed a story for a while and then dropped out).
    My idea of what a story is moving on, a satisfying novel most likely has a start, end and shape, but there are other formats, pictures that tell a tale, haiku, drawings, I find these easier to create, but recentlyds106 has been pushing me to think more about whole narratives of late. Thanks for helping.

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