Storytellers help us process and make judgements about raw information. Stories affect our way of thinking and ultimately our actions. The story may speak of common, everyday elements such as good and evil, joy and sadness, coffee and tea; but the storyteller’s ability – his task, even – is to form or reform the reader’s perception of these things. I may think of old women as relatively harmless, for example; but the story may reveal a sinister side to old women, which I was never aware of previously. My perception is changed; I will never think on the subject in the same way again.
This leaves you, the storyteller, with a certain measure of power – and with power comes responsibility. When you tell a story, you must think about how you are leading your reader to think, believe or act. Your story may change a mind, save a life or start a war. The paths you lead your audience down are paths from which they may never return again; choose carefully the direction you take.
The words we use have a profound effect on the way we think. Not only can the stories we tell change our point of view, the languages we speak may have an even more drastic effect on how we act. For more on this topic, watch Keith Chen’s TED talk on how your language could affect your ability to save money. Thanks for reading!