Is it a good tale?

By Limor Shiponi

Pulse: I don’t know what to look for when it comes to tales. I’m not sure about how to select one. When I hear tales, I’m engaged and fascinated. When I read tales, I’m not. In this case you’ve decided for me I’m going to tell Rapunzel. If I had to choose it, it wouldn’t happen. I can’t discern a tale as ‘good’ or ‘interesting’ to tell just from reading the text. It either lives through me and moves me, or not.

“Where can you discern?” I asked. “In sculpturing. If I’m looking at two sculptures I can tell you not only which one I like. I can tell you which of the two is a better sculpture that will ‘live’ longer and convey meaning for more people on an artistic level” answered G. “That means you are using some critical tools,” I said, “the result of attending school, visiting galleries with your masters, asking questions, learning by yourself, practicing again and again, receiving feedback, looking at your peers, finding your own way to understand – leaning on a discipline” I added, “to mention some parts of a deep learning experience”. G nodded and asked, “can that happen in storytelling too?”

My answer to G and to anyone else that might be wondering is – yes. But for now, we are back to Rapunzel and getting to know the tale in a way that can be duplicated for every tale, some sort of process or mini-methodology.

“Tell me the tale the way you know it right now” I requested G, who told me the entire tale in his own words, as he called it. “Well? what do you think?” I asked, “was it ‘good’?” now that we knew G can define ‘good’ in a different domain, he was trying to translate that knowledge to storytelling. Here is what he came up with for the time being:

The use of metaphor opens up visions for the listener. It enables many points of view in approaching the same issue. Refinement and purification of image through careful selection of word combinations, makes for better storytelling.

Moving between different language-layers can bring a tale closer to more audiences. Mastering different layers is important for storytellers.

“Good observations there, can you use them to criticize your telling?” G said, “my version is loaded with descriptions. I have the feeling I’m exhausting the listener and myself”. “What are you trying to do?” I asked. “I want to show them the story in my words but I have the feeling it’s not working very well”.

G was right, it wasn’t working very well. That is because he was telling the audience what HE saw, not the text that will make THEM see. If you tell them what they are supposed to see, as in elaborate descriptions that don’t serve the drama, you are taking their part away; on a deeper level, you are not trusting them.

Homework: tell Rapunzel in the first person as it would be told by each of the characters.

Next Revisiting tales as characters | finding hidden dimensions


2 thoughts on “Is it a good tale?”

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