What is a Story For?
I am writing this article because I was listening to a famous reader telling a story by a very famous writer and I struggled to stick the fifteen-minute instalment, although it was the first and despite the fact that the title was fascinating, the cover image beguiling and the reader’s voice was mesmerising. So, what was the problem?
I have been thinking about that all day.
First of all, I have to say that the original story – a novel – had been abridged for a five part radio series, and I haven’t read the original. However, I think I have pinpointed the problem for me.
It is all fur coat and no knickers, as they used to say in the UK a few decades ago. It was all gloss, but no substance.
I don’t know whether this is the fault of the original writer or the one who abridged it, but it doesn’t really matter, as I am talking about a principle, a concept.
I guess there are several valid answers and many nuances to the question: Why do you read a story? However, my answer is always to be enthralled in a fascinating storyline.
The clue there is in the word ‘story’.
If I get the slightest whiff of the writer showing off, I lose interest.
What I really mean here is that when the story becomes more a vehicle for the writer to provide evidence of his verbal dexterity than telling an interesting story, I don’t want to know.
Descriptions, unless necessary, are paddling.
In my case, because this is very subjective, I want to know what happens next, not what shade of blue the heroine’s dress is to the nth degree, just because the writer is capable of describing blue dresses well.
He could be world-famous for it as far as I am concerned, but I ‘m not interested in his showing off his talent.
Just tell me whether the monster gets her and get on with it.
What do you think? Please leave your comments below.
All the best,
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Podcast: What is a Story For?