Sunday, August 7, 2011

Daddy, Tell Me A Story...

The editor’s buzzword--no phrase--is “show, don’t tell” [a story]. However, some authors tell their stories and do an excellent job of it. And little children often say to their parents, “tell me a story.”

They are not asking the parent to show them a story, although often enough a picture book comes out for cuddle time as the parent reads the story. When I was growing up we would ask our parents to “tell us a story” and that is what they would do. Some made-up, fanciful things and others based on events my dad lived through.

My dad road a bicycle over a log road through a swamp to get from his home town to a small community on the east shore of the popular Adirondack lake, Lake George, every summer from the time he was 12 to age 18. He would tell us stories from those boyhood experiences.

We came to know the stories by the fanciful titles like:
Searchlights And Swimming (a group of boys skinny dipping in the lake while the girls were left back on shore)
The Seeds Get in My Teeth (making homemade ice cream and licking the dasher)
One-Armed Bandit (illegal gambling activities)
Rum Runner At Eighteen (moving rum from Canada to communities in the US during prohibition)
Many of these stories had held a cautionary message. My dad was raised a Quaker--he never preached, he led by example.

Showing versus telling. My dad told stories and wrote them down. There are authors who are brilliant at telling along with showing a story. It creates a uniquely different voice from a story that is predominantly “shown” to the reader. Perhaps it is because of early ear training this unique blend appeals to me so much.
A story that is told can be uniquely wonderful.
Just sayin'...