8. The Storyteller In You

There is a storyteller in all of us.

Writers, musicians, graphic designers, software programmers, architects, janitors, ninjas – whoever you are, wherever you come from, I am convinced that somewhere within the gray matter inside your head, there is a story idea just waiting to burst forth.

(I know a full-time accountant who admitted to writing fanfiction in her free time, though she has no interest whatsoever in pursuing the craft or the trade)

Earlier this year, I attended a writing workshop conducted by B. Mark Seabrooks of The Steve Harvey Show fame, now withdrawn from the industry in Hollywood and lecturing in a university. He had this to share on the innate storytelling ability in all of us:

“Imagine with me the people living in prehistoric times, who had to plant and hunt their meals. So one day the village decides that they need some meat, and they pick 5 strong men to go out and hunt something for them. The 5 men pack up their spears and weapons and head out of the village, into the dense foliage of the jungle…”

(these weren’t his exact words, but I’m making do as much as I can)

“That evening, just before the sun goes down, the villagers see figures coming out from the jungle, but there are only 4 men coming home – 2 of them, covered in bruises and cuts, carrying a wild boar between them, and the third is carrying the last, heavily wounded one around his shoulder. They accept the boar without question, and begin preparations for the evening meal while the village healers tended to the their wounds. Finally, they are seated around the fire, eating the boar that has been cooked and sharing fresh vegetables that had been harvested that afternoon, and eventually the conversations quiet down as someone asks the hunters the inevitable question…”

” ‘What happened?’ “

(here he ended, leaving with us that unsatisfying taste that cheesecake leaves in your mouth – you want more, but that’s all there is to it)

This is what happened.

Those four words begin Douglas Fairbairn’s novel, titled Shoot. Simple, no-nonsense, and fires the story forward like a shotgun blast. We all can say it, and we all can follow it up with a story – with varying degrees of fluency and general awesomeness. Hey, no one said that stories had to be fictional – your story about Bill Murray stealing your fries while you sat at McDonalds today is as much a story as mine about a cat-and-mouse chase between two time travelers.

All that matters is that you tell it.

There’s a storyteller in all of us – there’s a storyteller in you. And if there are any rules to telling stories, I only have one to share: Be entertaining.

(even then, feel free to break that rule any time you feel like it)

So go forth now, and tell good stories.


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