I had the privilege of hearing Sally Lloyd-Jones speak a couple of weeks ago, and she was charming…and wise. A children’s book author, she had some deep things to say about story, one of my favorite topics. You can bet I took notes!
As a reader and a writer, the topic of story is so important. Jean Wise wrote about a new book a couple of weeks ago, Wired for Story, and it’s sitting in my living room waiting for me right now.
Thanks to Sally Lloyd-Jones, here are a few observations about the magic of story.
Story transforms. It doesn’t just teach, it transforms. Think of the greatest story ever told—now, that’s a story that transforms. When its themes are included in our writing, transformative power is there!
Story works secretly...when we give it room and don’t explain it to death. The power is not in the summing up, it’s in the story. Too many writers spend too much time summing up and explaining what the reader could be experiencing. (Remember the old writer’s adage: Show, not tell.)
Story tells truth. It doesn’t protect us from life, it equips us for life. G.K. Chesterton agreed as he wrote: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Granted, not all stories transform. Some stories lay things out blatantly while others work secretly. And not all tell truth. Why?
Maybe our stories don’t transform because we’re not seeking power from the Source.
Perhaps we tell instead of show, laying everything else for the reader, because don’t trust the reader—or we don’t trust our words to be adequate.
And why don’t we tell the truth? Maybe our focus is off, and truth isn’t central in our minds and hearts. Or again, we don’t trust the reader with the truth or we don’t have confidence in our ability to communicate it.
We all use story, whether we write fiction or nonfiction.
I know I need to be reminded of my goal at times—to write story that is transformative and true.