Column: The art of the story


Halfway through telling the story I started hearing it from the perspective of the listener. This happens sometimes, which I like, because it’s a gauge of self-awareness. No one has their day made by hearing a story about a deer I shot or a fish I caught. At most, I’m hoping to entertain, and maybe pet the ego a little bit, but there are things to consider.

Every story comes with the understood, “you had to be there” because really there’s no way to convey what happened accurately and entertainingly. Pure accuracy would read like directions to assemble cheap furniture.

Some people just want to be heard and you can sense part way through the story that they forgot where they started and are now trying to bring it home by throwing as many words at it as possible. When I was subbing in a 4th grade class, there were a few students who liked telling stories. The stories had no development of character, no conclusion and no real point, but the kid is a 4th grader, so it’s cute and you’re just happy they haven’t been taught by adults to be insecure, self-conscious or that their opinion doesn’t matter. Yet.

When adults tell these stories, it often ends, or is interjected with, “I forgot where I was going with this,” which is comical and worth the time because a person who admits this usually isn’t one to take themselves too seriously. Beware the person who says, “Long story short” because that usually means they have taken a short story and made it long and aren’t self-aware enough to just wrap it up.

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