What is a story?
Is it a mere sequence of events? In very simple terms, it is.
However, what makes a story interesting or uninteresting?
We all have a friend who is good at telling stories, maybe around a campfire in the wild; or another one who tells jokes so badly that no one laughs. Good storytellers know how to involve readers.
Success stories catch the readers’ attention as they give them something in return in an easy way. In fact, what we look for as human beings is knowing the hows and the whys of things. This is the engine of all mankind in its quest towards infinity, in its search for the unknown, in the discovery of hidden things. Will the waiter who makes the tray fall be fired? How this will impact his life? And, above all, what is the bottom line of the story? This is what readers look for, this is what storytellers and writers must communicate, or the story of Melvin the Waiter will be lost in history forever.
Storytellers have a mission: bringing the stories of apparently invisible people to the surface, make them count, give them a voice they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s the excruciating pain of a mother who lost her child, the motivations of a murderer, the discovery of relics from a lost civilisation, the passion of a new-borne love, the return of the prodigal son, the frustration and anger for the betrayal of a beloved wife that count. All these stories, all these feelings deserve to be known. They represent what we are as persons, our intimate feelings. They show us how the world goes, prove us we are not alone and that there is an identical, similar, or completely different truth out there; it’s something we face every day, even without knowing.
I feel this responsibility every day. No one told me I have to tell stories, I simply believe I have to do so. The people I see on the streets, all the life I observe and whose details I study turns into scenes, setting and characters. And it is precisely these characters who knock from inside my drawer to demand their stories to be told. Their voices are like Ulysses’ siren songs and there is no submerged rock awaiting the floating story but a safe harbour made of the reader’s curiosity and passion for resolution. Isn’t this what life is about? Conflict and resolution – which were chosen by Aristotle as two of the main elements of life representation, or drama –, have been animating literature ever since.
Why should we stop telling stories?