The Art of Storytelling, Part 3

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What are the chances there are actually some “secrets” to the art of storytelling? I know I used to think that was so, and if I just learned them and plugged them in appropriately, then publication awaited, as did best-seller status.

OK, you all can stop laughing now. You don’t know what it costs me to come clean about this! 😮 It’s not easy to admit I was so naive or so … proud. Yep. There’s really no other way to say it.

I know some writers will tell you it’s important to be confident. You need to believe in yourself, they say, or at least believe that God has you doing what He wants you to do. Of course the latter is true, but there’s a fine line between believing you have a story God wants you to write and believing your story is what the reading public needs, and in fact has been waiting for all these years.

OK, maybe the line isn’t so fine. But since I’m confessing, I might as well take you back to my school days when I used to scoff at the teachers who said we should read over our work when we were finished and make any necessary changes. Were they kidding? What I wrote was my best effort and it was just what I wanted to say. It needed no changing. How dare they suggest it?

Except, I finally got a teacher who not only corrected our papers but made us change our errors, and suddenly I discovered errors upon errors, many of which I could have corrected because I knew better—except I just hadn’t looked over my work before turning it in.

There was also one assignment—the details allude me (I probably blocked it out due to humiliation!)—in which I remember distinctly thinking, What is this teacher thinking? I’m not going to change a WORD of this masterpiece. This is the best bit of writing she’s going to see, and if she doesn’t realize it, well, her loss! OK, as I said, I don’t remember the details, so those weren’t my exact thoughts, but they couldn’t be far off.

Where am I going with this? I believe the first step to really learning the art of storytelling is to be teachable. Ironically, when I was teaching English, I discovered a good number of my students had similar thoughts to my childhood ones, but now it was my turn to convince them that there might be a thing or two they could do to improve their writing.

Being teachable, however, has several branches, and I think it’s important not to neglect any. I want to look at one of those tomorrow.

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm  Comments (6)  
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