Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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Telling Difficult Stories

I found an interesting book during my thrift store wanderings. "Inviting the Wolf in: Thinking About Difficult Stories", by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis, is a great book focusing on that thing that can vex both writers and readers: why and how can difficult stories be written? From the back cover of the book:

What stories are you not telling, and why not?

A difficult story is any story whose content makes it challenging to tell or difficult to hear. Told for the wrong reasons, it can be as painful for the listener as for the teller. But as we know from literature and media from Sophie's Choice to The Sixth Sense, told properly, a difficult story can powerfully alter not only he who tells it, but those who hear it.

How can we tell the stories of wickedness and loss, sorrow and grief? How do we respectfully engage our audience and get to the core of a story's meaning? In response, authors Niemi and Ellis offer three essential elements:
  • A general discussion about the value and necessity of telling difficult stories

  • An instructional section that leads readers through the process of creating and shaping difficult stories

  • Sample stories authored by Niemi, Ellis and others who expound on the choices they made in shaping them

Niemi and Ellis begin with the assumption that it is essential and beneficial to tell difficult stories. Stopping our ears or stilling our tounges will not make tragedy go away; rather, the first step in ending suffering is to name it for what it is.
Tags: stories

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