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The Story of Storytelling.

Protagonists set objective(s), go in search of something or pursue solution(s) to problem(s) or resolve issue(s). Such pursuits unavoidably become methods with which storytellers tell stories. So how does storytelling become a method for achieving an aim or goal?


It will mean first of all taking out dull moments out of the story and animating the process with exciting events. That way quality is obtained for the story or movie audience to follow with real interest.


Audience apart, ‘method’ comes from what content and content format is used to drive audience’s enjoyment of stories. Really if it also presents means by which the storyteller intends to solve social problems or change public opinion.

Do you, the storyteller intend to entertain your audience, as it is now with social media comedy skits? These hardly change opinion as much as an advertisement would a shopper’s decision to fill certain goods or services into physical or online cart.


Advertising seems to consider ‘methods,’ may be some entertainment (as it also happens in skits) and strong opinion wrapped in one story to convince and convert the audience. However, some slight malfunctioning could happen to derail the intent of either entertaining or persuading the audience to ‘buy.’


Stories persistently stress the triumph of good over evil; which is about core ethics for managing human society. It might get to a point, where the audience becomes less interested in embracing certain values and lifestyles. They could become narrow minded after many episodes of same format or content.


Better strategies at communicating and aligning with organic audience desires could be evolve. That means applying certain terms and concepts to evolve objective storytelling. This could leave the audience with choices too. Or better give weight and measures to focused on issues to enable audience’s choice too.


Accordingly, how we communicate and expect the impact of stories become the story of storytelling. That means we might have to either rely on certain methods of storytelling or allow the shades of story issues. These combined with learnt audience desires and reactions could form the basis of communication.

We either rely on a lone hero or heroine format or allow the audience to be part of the storytelling; get immersed in the process of storytelling itself. This will help understanding, whether emphasis should be on the storyteller or the audience. Both happen therefore, to be in an arena or context, where communication happens.


This should cause audience analysis or insight into audience response. Thus, the story of storytelling takes into account its audience and values, becomes less of spoon-feeding and more of collaboration. Yet there is flaw, if we don’t try to understand fundamental weaknesses in that interactive context.


This will demand contextualization of communication on the biggest issues of our time, ‘…inequality, climate change, austerity- and the failure to make major strides in galvanizing public opinion behind potential solutions….’ This is the beginning of new story framing or story of storytelling. This should jump-start and focus us on redefining contexts and strategies. More so enable persuasion and action to empower our audiences according to their contextual desires.


Otherwise contextual desires are still susceptible to errors in this age; indeed as audiences are prone to live so called celebrity lifestyles as cultural prompts. Really audiences imitate celebrities or superstars, whose lives are framed according to Aristotle’s Three Act Structure of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.


We witness their Departure from our collective ordinary lifestyles; Initiation into the fantasy world of idolization and the Return to human errors. We admire them still and make excuses for their lousy behaviors.


Recalling the fact that coping with lousy celebrities is actually returning to the storyteller, who frames communication by ‘spoon-feeding’ audiences, is this really the stories we need to tell? Such that merely tickles our human fancies without contemporary contextual interpretation of organic human fate?


“Do we really need more people who think they are heroes on a personal mission to save us?” Of course, in their Initiation, they sprout out of certain super hero formulaic movies, either embracing or adjusting Aristotelian Three Acts or Campbell’s Heroic Adventure.


Campbell's superheroes are compelled in individual contexts through a redemption and transformation during trials, doubts and…temptations…’to solve problems that may have expired in the context of our 21st Century experience. This superhero formula encapsulates stories in a single cultural context.


It may not appear absolute to a lot of storytellers that believe storytelling is Introduction, Body and Conclusion. Of course, this is our conventional oral tradition that has subsisted in one storyteller, one griot or one expert relaying life, professional, worship, business etc narratives to drive home a point or sell goods and services.


It is overloaded in media and entertainment formats. More so in today’s social media space, to a boring extent. This accepted model often more than not leaves everyone ignorant of evolving storytelling. Some will debate that Hollywood’s imitation of Campbell’s structure or other similarities would just as is expected suck up gate-takings.


Will it make market sense, if we should reject the formula and immerse audiences in the said collaborative context? Such that, will recognize our current dilemma; not some singular superstar’s story that precludes our voices in the process? It will be fruitful to “…to connect with an audience…through the lens of people’s experiences …” for more emotive...” connection.

It will mean on-boarding people, intriguing them, raising curiosity, instead of plying, them with same formulaic storytelling menu.  It is on account of this that it is debatable, “… Hero’s Journey is an interesting concept, and much can be learnt from it. But as a guide to effective, everyday communications, its complexity and specific form make its usefulness questionable.”


As a lone hero or heroine’s adventure surmised from ancient experiences and persuaded to serve since cinema culture took roots and exploded globally, it should by now have exhausted “…the values of ancient societies with very different priorities…” from our 21st century experiences.


Culled from: The Problem with Storytelling - Resilience.

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