What is storytelling? To me, storytelling is when someone (a storyteller) or a group of people (storytellers) commit to the act of communicating a narrative either fictional or nonfictional across a wide range of mediums. This act can have a variety of purposes, most commonly in my experience, it’s purely for entertainment value. I consider myself a storyteller at least when I write fiction which is something I do a lot more than people realize. In writing today’s post I want to share my thoughts on storytelling and from the point of view of a storyteller. After this post has been read by you the reader I’m hoping we can have a conversation about focus and purpose within storytelling.
The Kobold that accompanied the young man who was evidently a monster-tamer smiled at the gate-keeper, its reptilian face scrunching up in a way that many would find unnerving and generally unpleasant. The creature’s tiny and scaly face annoyed the public servant but he had no choice and had to keep his anti-monster aesthetic tastes to himself. He couldn’t afford another write-up or his wife’s scalding would be unbearable.
Monster-tamers and their “companions” as they were fond of calling the domesticated monsters they worked with were the subjects of much unnecessary scrutiny and baseless gossip within larger cities where they were less commonly found and few of them were nearby to challenge ignorant assumptions and ideas about the nature of their skills and of the intelligence of the creatures they formed partnerships with.
This is an excerpt from a story I’m writing. This particular excerpt has yet to be published and as of the writing of this post is a small section of the next chapter. In it, a young man and the monster that he has formed a partnership with have approached a city for the first time. In this particular city and country in the story monster-tamers, people who have the natural ability to form telepathic bonds with monsters and who can harness their talents by forming partnerships and teams with them, are largely considered to be uncivilized folks from the countryside despite the fact that this natural ability is by and large a genetic one and thus obviously has little to do with where one was raised or how “civilized” they are.
This story is not purely for entertainment. I’d like to believe and hope that it’s entertaining (you be the judge though, go and check it out yourself and let me know what you think!) but the purpose of the story is educational. I want to write a story that educates people about mythology and theology from Latin-America and believe it or not this is that story. Many of the characters in Otherworldly Monster Tamer Chronicles have been lifted right out of mythology and theology from both indigenous groups in Latin-America and from the syncretism that happened when the Spaniards, Portuguese, and other European settlers, and African slaves came to the Americas.
A Single Amateur Storyteller’s Take On Purpose In Storytelling:I find having a purpose makes me a more effective storyteller. It makes me more focused and keeps my writing centralized which is a problem I experience a lot outside of writing for storytelling. Purpose-based storytelling, even if that purpose is just to make people laugh is better than story-telling without a purpose. As someone who talks A LOT to a select few close friends, I know first hand what people call purposeless storytelling: rambling. Being focused on your story’s purpose can help you make it a stronger story.
In my opinion, if you want to be able to gauge whether or not your story was effective at whatever it was you were intending for it to achieve having a defined purpose to that story helps even if you keep it a secret to literally everyone else. It gives you a sense of what you want to happen whenever you tell the story or depending on the medium through which the story is being communicated what happens after viewers or readers took or take in the story that you told or are telling.
I also find that having a purpose in my storytelling makes my storytelling more passionate. It makes me engaged and makes me want to tell you the story in a way that has an impact on you. I do my best commentary and my best writing when I am focused, passionate, and have a purpose. I feel like that’s pretty common both among storytellers and among people who enjoy storytelling but don’t consider themselves tellers of stories.
Having a purpose strengthens many people in all sorts of activities and storytelling is no different. For those of us who are nervous, it enables us to distract ourselves or focus on something beyond our nerves. For those of us who worry that we’ll be distracted having a central purpose helps keep everything centered in our minds.
I took a risk and told a sort of story with this YouTube video of mine. In it, I experimented with my style of YouTube video-making. I told a story of my own internal thought processes by creating a separate persona and having a real conversation with it online. I had a purpose with this video: create something watchable that people enjoyed and at the same time create something where I tell a story of my own growth as a YouTuber and as a vide0-making creative. I feel like this was less successful than I wanted it to be but I still achieved my intended purpose and that matters to me. Having a purpose in storytelling matters a lot when content is created in this one-actor multiple character style sketch.
What do you think of having a purpose in storytelling? I suspect this post will largely be me preaching to a choir but if not, please let me know!