About Stories

Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf (dressed as Grandma) in a bed

Stories are how we make sense of the world.

Without stories, all the world is science — which isn’t a bad thing. Science is the miracle by which we exist. But, on its own, science is simply the observation of cause and effect.

Meaning is created when cause and effect are translated into stories.

Stories are how we connect with others and ourselves. They are the context and the frame by which we make sense of the world around us. And it’s important to note that stories are rarely, if ever, true.

And they don’t need to be.

In fact, the best stories aren’t true because they are metaphors distilled down to archetypes that nearly anyone from any culture can pick up, understand, and reflect on.

Stories like:

  • The Three Little Pigs
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • Hansel & Gretel
  • Cinderella

Not a true story in the bunch despite the fact that all of them are stories telling a truth.

This is an important distinction to make when writing — one I tried to capture in the following poem:

by: Sheralyn Pratt

There is no such thing 
as a true story, 
only a story 
that carries a truth; 
for truth is not fact 
and facts are not truth— 
they are merely a lens 
to a particular view 
that sees what it sees 
from its spot on the map 
and knows what it knows 
in its statements of fact. 
Thus, each lens sees a tale, 
a perspective, 
a view, 
but never fall for the claim 
that a story is true.
©2019 Sheralyn Pratt

So what does this mean?

It means that when telling a story, you must choose to either:

  • Be factually accurate
  • Create a frame for meaning

Both options are valid, depending on the circumstances and your reason for telling a tale.

So how do you know which option to choose, and when to choose it?

I’m glad you asked.