Guiding Lights

STORIES GUIDE US through life just as the stars and constellations guided ancient explorers across uncharted seas. They come in various forms: fables and fairytales, myths and movies, legends and limericks, epics and essays, anecdotes and articles, poems and plays, songs and sermons.

Common yarns are spun around campfires and tables. Sacred stories congregate in holy books. The truest tales condense into jokes. The themes are the same—it’s far too late for original material—only the characters and the settings change.

In his book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker reflects the insights of Jung, Freud, Joseph Campbell, Sir James George Frazer and other scholars in his list. The Significant Seven are: 1. Overcoming the Monster, 2. Rags to Riches, 3. The Quest, 4. Voyage and Return, 5. Rebirth, 6. Comedy, 7. Tragedy. You can even boil the list down to the last two.

Telling stories

I’ve been a storyteller most of my life. I started EMT Communications in 1996 and my business card still reads “Chief Storyteller.” Long before that I made up bedtime stories for my kids that grew into the Matterhorn the Brave series. From that root sprang the TLC books, which feature my grandkids.

We are not all authors, but we are all storytellers, whether we craft our own or convey those we enjoy. Social media makes it simple to share in long form (blogs) short bursts (Twitter) interactive streams (Facebook) or flowing video (YouTube). Indeed, stories are what draw us into these cyberspaces: to tell ours and hear yours.

Finding an audience is not a problem these days.

Saying something worthwhile remains the challenge.


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