Monday, June 18, 2007

Story Telling






















Great story tellers.

I have a friend, who once told me of that first moment in his life, when he decided being a good storyteller would become his goal. He wanted to express his opinions, his memories, his views on life, in story form. He wished to foster the ability to recreate his life in stories. Interesting and amusing stories. He has accomplished it, he always has a great story to relate, no matter the occasion, he has a story to fit it.

His decision occurred when he was a young man in his very early twenties. His father was a officer in the service. One auspicious day, my friend experienced a wonderful opportunity, he accompanied his father to the officer's club, to have drinks with his father and some of his cronies. The observation he carried away with him, was, the great stories of their lives these men could tell. He admired this, and from then on, his life's memories were recreated in stories. Great stories. An entertainer was born that day. He has told me many stories from his life. This particular man views all of life with amusement, and an air of bemusement . He has had me laughing many times with his remarkable tales. Tales that in many ways are ordinary experiences similar to those we all have lived. But, in the retelling, they come alive, with a new twist that makes them extraordinary, instead of ordinary.

I had not really realized until recently, how many other's in my life, are great story tellers as well, or, maybe I have been lucky in my life, and have met so many that are.

As we converse, and I ask them questions of their lives, or a subject we are discussing sparks a memory, many of these people in my life, have a wonderful tale of their own life to tell associated with the subject. I often listen in amazement and joy to the tales they tell.

As I was pondering this idea, life recreated in story form, I began to notice something else. There is often a difference in the way the stories men tell are recounted in comparison to those of women. I cannot really pinpoint all of the differences, but I think, many of the stories women tell, are punctuated more much fully in emotion, the emotions felt at the time, their interpretation of the emotions felt, wonderfully rich stories, but somehow, different in their scope.

Whereas with men, their stories are more detailed oriented. The process itself of how the story came to unfold, the details of the surroundings they found themselves in, the sights they saw. The interactions that took place, the conversations, the reactions of other protagonists of the story are told in a way, that is somehow different than the same story told from a woman's perspective. I have experienced this first hand, I have two brothers. We have experienced many of the same events, yet my brothers stories are told in a different way than my own recounting, or that of my sister.

A woman's story, has the details leading up to the event, all of the basics are there, but, perhaps in somewhat softer focus, in the retelling there is more emotion, the reactions of other's involved are more dramatically detailed, the interpretation of those reactions are also often a part of the story. As I said, I cannot really put my finger on the fine line of the differences, but there is one.

I know many women and men that are great story tellers.

I envy these teller's of tales. I do not possess that gift. My memory does not hold onto detail. My articulation often falters, as I am repeating my tale. Something seems lost in the translation.

Human history is based on the oral tradition of storytelling. The very best storytellers were held in high esteem and honor. Sought after at gatherings. Listened to with awe and respect.

Story telling is an art form.

I wonder...can it be learned? I know there are workshops for story telling, they are offered even here in my small Midwestern city. But, I am beginning to believe, that truly great storytellers are born, not made.

I know it is more than the details, it is creating imagery through the spoken word, it is tone, and pitch of voice. Really great stories are memories come to life for the listener as well as the teller of the tale.

7 comments:

plan0 said...

Men are detail oriented, and often more visually oriented than emotionally. Whereas a woman may recall the emotions of a first impression, what I remember first is... beautiful eyes, nice rack, she smells really nice, etc.

That said, I haven't been able to figure a way to get a "nice rack" story into Toastmasters... yet.

Jonas said...

Once upon a time...

Yes. They lived happily ever after...

X. Dell said...

(1) Part of being a good storyteller is having a story to tell. Perhaps people haven't got the gift of gab, or the glibness of a Mark Twain. But if they have experienced something extraordinary, people will always want to listen to them.

(2) I think that for men the emotional content isn't stated, but it's firmly implied. One of the great male storytellers, Jean Shepherd, once talked about how back when he was nine, he and his buddies tried to sneak into a burlesque theater. I don't recall any emotional words, but from the words of these kids, and their action, one gets a very firm sense of these boys' feelings: the pressure not to back down on a dare given by the other boys; the anticipation of and curiosity about the event; the fear of getting caught, and having to face their parents if they did, etc.

Likewise many women storytellers are quite adept at organizing detail. You, for example, have given us a number of very well told stories about your life. I get the sense of emotion that you portray quite well, but you do give us all the pertinent (or what you feel are pertinent) details we need.

deb said...

I think storytelling is like anything else, you can learn how to do it and learn how do to it well. The people who seem to be natural storytellers learned how to tell stories, probably by sitting and listening to other storytellers.

Take the course, I think you would be pleasantly surprised with yourself and by the way, if you have a blog, I think you already are a storyteller.

LePhare said...

Another great post Sunny. There is a lot of difference about how men and women tell, and relate to a tale. I feel uncomfortable at times reading some contents of people's Blogs...... but I keep reading and learning, I hope.

Jenn said...

It is interesting to recall memories of the same events with members of the opposite sex; the women will most always have an emotional narrative, the men remember the stilleto's.

Venus. Mars.

Sunny Delight said...

plano,
Perhaps a baker's rack? ;)

jon,
Let's hope...there is an ever after that consists mostly of joy and happiness.

xdell,
What you say is true, each person living has extraordianary experiences, and it is fascinating to hear their stories, but there are some who have the charisma or talent to move it beyond extraordinary. And, thank you for the compliment.

deb,
Yes, perhaps it can be learned, but there is also...just something the really great ones possess that draws us in.
I may consider the class the next time it is offered, or just attend more storytelling events.

Ian,
Thank you, and I know exactly what you mean.

Jenn,
Very true, although we may remember the stilettos as well...if we were wearing them ~grin~