The Whole Story

Who doesn’t love a good story? We see it television, in movies, and in books. We all love good stories told around a campfire, around the dinner table. We love writers and directors and people who can weave a good story together. Are stories just something that purely are for entertainment if they are fiction, and education if they are true? Is there any such thing as a true story (and if there is, is it exciting enough to listen to)? Is there any such thing as a fictional story?

There are plenty of people I’m sure who have addressed this topic, so I don’t think I am coming up with anything new here. The value of stories and storytelling has been on my mind ever since I read Patrick


Rothfuss’ two books The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear. The main character in that book is from a group of people that are somewhat gypsy like. They live their lives on the road traveling from town to town putting on performances of plays, telling stories, acrobatics, and playing music and singing songs. They are performers. The main plot of the series (which is not finished yet and I’m anxiously awaiting the 3rd and final book in the series) is that the main character is trying to determine the truth behind a traumatic childhood incident (don’t want to give too much away). The source of the traumatic event was something that he heard as a story and thought it was just a myth, something not real, and thus when this myth does seem real he questions his own memory of the event, since he was a child and could possibly have just made a story fit what he witnessed, or did it really happen. As this main character grows and travels he hears more stories from different cultures and different people. Stories are always slightly different because good storytellers exaggerate a bit here and there and of course stories generally change throughout time as they get passed down and pass from region to region. taking on aspects of the culture they move into. In a way the main character is learning about what’s real through what everyone thinks are fictional stories. Taking bits and pieces from all the different stories and putting it together into a narrative that might explain what happened to him as a child. The books represent masterful storytelling themselves, but the author really hits home the value of stories in general. The main character states at one point “There is truth to every story”.

Truer words were never spoken.

Fiction is defined as:

1. a. An imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented.
b. The act of inventing such a creation or pretense.
2. A lie.
3. a. A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.
b. The category of literature comprising works of this kind, including novels and short stories.

Even the most damning definition of fiction here “A lie” can carry with it truth.  If you know someone is lying you might know then that the opposite is true.  You might know that to find truth more investigation is needed.  You might try to understand why I’m lying and learn something about why people lie. I think we need to be mindful that this doesn’t necessarily mean that there still isn’t any truth to be found within the context of our imagination. And I think everybody sort of gets that, but for a while I was heavily into non-fiction because I was like I have so much to learn, and I still do, but I think in my mind I had forgotten sort I also decided to write about this today because of an article I read recently regarding stories and how they impact our view of the world. For instance if we are old stories about violence repeatedly this may skew our view of how prevalent violence is.  The article has many more thought provoking ideas than that, but the gist is that stories shape our lives, because we do search for meaning in every story and when we read only one kind of story all the time, whether it is non-fiction, a news story in the media, or in a movie, our neurons start to forge pathways that make that one kind of story a narrative for our life.  So it seems it is important to actually fill yourself with different types of stories.

I love reading.  My wife and I actually read stories together, with usually me reading and her listening.  I tend to read in a British accent most of the time, because hey it makes the story sound better for me, but I also try to do different voices for different characters.  She likes the way I read, but I sort of wish she would read to me more too, because when we started she was the one that read to me, and it was actually her getting into the reading and doing different voices that made me feel comfortable getting into it. 🙂  She says I’m better at it, and maybe that’s true, but I just hope I haven’t taken something away from her that she enjoyed doing.   I do find value in reading a story out loud, telling it.  It makes you think about the characters more, what their moods and emotions might be.  I sort of find that when I read to myself I pay

Orpheus and Eurydice (from www.

more attention to the non-dialogue part, where as when I read out loud I pay more attention to the dialogue.  It’s a very different experience.  I strongly recommend giving it a try. 🙂  Rothfuss’ books have also made me think that it would be cool to have, instead of a book club, a story club where once a month you meet and tell stories to each other.  I am super excited to read stories to my child that is soon to be in this world, and I hope I can share the appreciation I have for the value of stories. 🙂

11 thoughts on “The Whole Story

  1. Such a great idea:

    “Instead of a book club, a story club where once a month you meet and tell stories to each other.”

    If I lived there, I would like to partake. 🙂

    You know, the stories keep us alive and truly connected. I once remember an elderly man who confessed that hadn´t he had the stories, he wouldn´t have survived…

    For the record, my girlfriend asks me often to tell her stories, and I have to improvise something on the spot. It is quite incredible to see how soothing that is for her…Nothing makes her more relaxed than hearing me. In fact, strangely enough, through stories we really reach each other…those elusive levels of the souls are accessed…

    So….Just listen – the stories might want you to be their conveyor…

    So…Einstein said once that if you want your child to be intelligent read stories for him.
    If you want him even more intelligent, read even more stories…;)


  2. Pingback: What’s your story? | Cloak Unfurled

  3. Stories might want something from you. You may be a storyteller in disguise.

    I re-read this post of yours, and strangely, I forgot I had commented here.

    “Just listen – the stories might want you to be their conveyor…” I wrote back then.

    The very same thing I am telling you now. 😉


    1. It’s quite possible Julien. 🙂 It’s part of the reason why I decided I needed to just start writing and have a blog. Every storyteller needs to start somewhere. I also know that I need to let go of the fear of not living up to my own expectations. Slowly I’m getting there. 🙂


      1. You don´t need “to start” anything. It is there, within you, waiting to be seen. Heeded impartially.

        Expectation is often another word for fear. Ego, disclaiming our true vocation…

        I gor inspired by your lost post. Even if I feel your doubts, you bring forth something very valuable:

        A remembrance going through the ages…

        You may want to read this:

        Best, J


          1. This is my predicament as well.

            Thing is: We are free. We just don´t realize this.

            Freedom is seeing through this:

            Ego goes in circles. It is utterly cunning. At some point it may say: “I need to free myself from expectations and fears”…- so that it can can go on entertaining the same drama.

            Let´s forget this inane drama about fears and doubts.

            We are these ageless stories wanting to be told again. 😉


  4. Swarn, You are so right, we do look for the meaning in stories in everything! I thought this was primarily a writers addiction, especially if one is given to psychology and behavioral sciences. So nice to know I am not strange! This blog was so well stated, loved every word. What resonated more, I could live through your words! YOu wrote a good story!!
    Reading to each other, well this I miss not having a relationship with a human; my Arabian horse does not pronounce word well, but it’s a great relationship.
    Thinking it’s time for a bipedal male LOLOL Love reading to each other, shades of my grandmother who was an adult elocution teacher. Thank you for this story!! Cheers


    1. Thank you for your kind words as always MicheleElys. Well I’m also very interested in psychology and behavioral science so perhaps you are still strange…but I am strange also! 🙂 I think everybody loves stories though. Perhaps they aren’t the kind that you and I would enjoy. Even bad television shows have stories…albeit bad ones! 🙂

      I agree you should get a bipedal companion as well. He could read you stories while you are on your Arabian horse. Sounds like perfection. lol


  5. Pingback: Discussion: Is your life a story? – Cloak Unfurled

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