General, Stories

What We Learn From Stories

Storytelling is one the oldest forms of art (aside of course, from art itself). Oral legends and myths date back thousands of years and are passed down from generation to generation. Part of this is because stories are an integral part of our identity. Cultures across the world have fairy tales, myths and legends many of which are designed to teach a lesson or share a message. The question for each story is what we learn from it.

As storytellers ourselves, writers have a unique answer to this. The more we read, the more we passively gain information about our craft and the more we refine our own tastes. Each story we read is a chance to see techniques in action. It’s also a chance to see what makes a trope succeed or fail.

In many ways, reading or listening to stories helps inform us about who we are as writers. Writing is a deeply personal thing that varies widely from writer to writer, much as our tastes in story-material do. Some of us enjoy long epics where we can spend literal weeks with the same character and in the same world. Others like something like real life without the trimmings of the supernatural, fantastical or unbelievable. And still some of us prefer quick, snappy pieces that can be easily enjoyed in a few spare minutes. It’s that same preference for style, genre and length that can often be found in our own work, or at the very least in the early works we first begin writing (there are always exceptions, of course).

That all being said however, it’s important to realize that there are multiple places where stories exist. In games and movies, the story behind the visual or interactive aspect is just as important as how appealing the graphics or filming is. In music as well, there are often stories written into songs.

Think of your favorite game character. Now, think of their game. If you like, you can likely plot out the events of the game much like you would any book or movie. Take a look at the lyrics of some of your most played songs. Can you create a series of events out of these?

Stories are all around us, and they have many different things to teach us.

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