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Stories out loud

July 31, 2010

Our world is saturated with stories. Not just books, but film, TV, online, blogs… Heck, even our so-called “news” seems decidedly like entertainment at times. But notice something: most, if not all, of these story media are visual. Is there room today for oral storytelling? Can we still hear stories out loud?

This may sound a little odd, since I mostly deal with the written word, but I feel rather protective of oral storytelling. Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t want those voices to fall silent. Telling a story out loud is the most basic form of the art and craft. A single voice bridging the gap between imaginations… It sends shivers up my spine.

But hearing a story requires a different part of your brain. Your eyes aren’t involved at all, not even to decipher text, and that can be a weird feeling. We’re so used to using our eyes, and we’re so used to scripts. Most people write to outlines, myself included. I’m also one of those people who mentally rehearse before they speak. And don’t get me started on “reality” shows

My point? Telling and listening to stories can be incredibly freeing. Whether as storyteller, making it up on the spot, or listener, creating the world before your own blind eyes. It’s more immediate, visceral, intimate than the written word.

And amazingly, today’s hyped-up, plugged-in people still like listening to a story. Look at my campers asking for ad-libbed stories about my imaginary friend. Look at the success of podcast novels. We still crave the spoken word. Maybe it’s instinct, maybe it’s nostalgia.

Maybe it’s an antidote.

Cheers,
Arvik

PS. This was another entry from the iTouch. As much as I love writing from anywhere (babysitting my little cousin in this case), I feel these posts aren’t as coherent as the ones I do right on the computer. Thoughts?

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