Slow, Deep, Descriptive Storytelling

hard-work

Jonathan Fitzgerald muses over his use of anecdotes, how his writing falls into “the introductory anecdote, argument, and application” pattern that’s so-very Evangelical and not-so literary.

Do we tell the bare amount of a story to communicate a meaning? Or do we tell the full story, let the characters come as alive as they can, imbue the settings with a very real sense of atmosphere and depth, and try to make the reader feel the true turmoil of conflict?

These things are harder to do, which might be another reason that so many of us choose not to write this way. It’s easier to offer an anecdote, the illusion of a story, and move on to exposition. But if we were to tell stories the way they’re meant to be told, I believe, the reader’s sense of the meaning, not to mention his or her enjoyment, would increase.

It isn’t just about the reader’s enjoyment, it’s also about doing justice to the world through our words, through our wild and complex stories that can’t be easily packaged, named, categorized, or written.

I’m issuing a call back toward storytelling — slow, deep, descriptive storytelling.

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4 thoughts on “Slow, Deep, Descriptive Storytelling

  1. Not only are we in danger of spawning a generation of writers unwilling or unable to tell thick stories, but even intelligent readers have existed on literary gruel for so long they seem to have little patience for anything but superficial satiation.

    • This is true. I grew up on classics, but last night I started reading the Three Musketeers, and I thought, “Wow. I haven’t had to work this hard to read a STORY in ages.” It wasn’t a bad “work.” But it was work.

      On the other hand . . .

      Right now I’m reading a book by an evangelical which is very slow-paced and detailed but I’m not getting into the tale at all, and in fact am feeling frustrated and “get on with it already!” about it. I think there’s something about balance in the story. Anecdotal isn’t so helpful. Expository isn’t really a story. But long drawn-out descriptions which don’t REALLY further the character or the plot don’t do any good either.

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