Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of Story, Part I by Annette M. Irby

open book coming to life*

There’s a new series on TV. If I named it, I’m sure many of you have heard of it and/or watched every single episode. ;) The story centers around a family and is a drama, so though there are funny moments, the characters’ struggles are heartfelt and sometimes, intense. This series gets to viewers’ hearts. Anyone who has suffered disappointments, betrayal, loss, grief, pain will relate, perhaps especially folks older than thirty-five. The writing doesn’t withhold “punches,” as it were. From everything I’ve heard, the episodes make viewers cry, make viewers feel. Deeply. You don’t know you’re being affected until it hits you. Then, you’re sobbing. Undone. The storytellers have accessed a deep part of you—buried hurts, memories. Fears. Stuff you thought was dealt with. And it takes you by surprise. The heaviness could be depressing, except the depicted seasons (perhaps) are well behind you. You survived.

Let’s explore a few of the ways story is powerful:

Story impacts us. We find we aren’t alone.   
Story changes us. We learn how to cope or that we can hold on to hope. 

Story gains access. Story gets past the walls and gates of our minds and hearts and enters the inner chambers—our private thoughts and feelings. And because story has the power to do that, it changes us.

Story moves us, emotionally and/or motivationally. Sometimes we are motivated to act based on a story we’ve seen or read.

Story convicts us. Jesus’s parables did this.

Story guides us. Morals from kids’ storybooks can guide us as adults, help us make decisions and/or see the people around us through a moral lens.  

Interrupted stories can anger us. How do you feel about these three words: To Be Continued…

Stories make us think. Ever read a novel that presented a situation contrary to your morals, but you long for the characters to do the immoral thing—like kill someone out of revenge? Or take the romance to the next level?—simply because you’re caught up in the story? (I’m not talking anything beyond PG here, but you get the idea.) Why do those thoughts cross our minds? What motivates that?

When you’re watching such a show or reading such a novel, do you analyze your thoughts? As writers, we should, I think. Because we can use those lessons for good.

The prophet Nathan did this. He told King David a story that made David feel anger toward an injustice, made him relate, motivated him toward justice—to want a certain outcome. All from the power of story. And when the story’s fa├žade was removed, and the core revealed, David saw himself in the story. Then, conviction could do its work. Story was a tool in the prophet’s hands, or voice, in this case.

Jesus used story (parables) to reach hearts and teach lessons and help people understand His ways. Story is a tool. Next time, I'll share some cautions around using story as a tool. See you the first Monday in March with Part II. 

Your turn.

Until then, share your thoughts. Why do you think we enjoy stories more when they move us (emotionally or motivationally)? Have you read or watched any very moving stories lately? What do you think it is about those storytellers’ techniques that makes their stories affect us the way they do? Let’s learn from each other. 


Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can't bring himself to break their annual dinner date—that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr. Lara doesn't have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that's what she tells herself so she doesn't have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara's business is failing, and it just may take a miracle—or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen—to save it. Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby is a freelance editor and Christian fiction author who dabbles in gardening and photography. She has completely fallen in love with her grandson. She enjoys spending time with her family and husband of over twenty-five years. You can learn more about Annette by visiting her website or her page here on Seriously Write. 

*photo credit: the awesomely creative people at Pixabay