Tag Archives: storytelling

“If you don’t understand, ask before it’s too late.”  –Anon.

Once upon a time, as the story goes, there were three bears, a Lorax, and seven dwarfs.  They all planned to sit down on the forest lawn one late spring morning for a leisurely brunch, complete with honey, biscuits, green eggs and ham (this was a typical New Orleans Brennan’s-style meal), and some good apple pies baked by the old hag who also built gingerbread houses.  Well, because of the whims of Thor and the other gods, the brunch party was called on account of rain.  But they all lived happily ever after, for they knew behind every rain cloud there was a silver lining.




Narration is to entertain, by storytelling, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Mostly.  There is FACTUAL narration and FICTIONAL narration.  (Some get them mixed up.)

FACTUAL presents a sequence of events (and people involved) as they are, CONCERNED WITH TIME AND ACTION.  The events have significance or meaning to the teller of the tale, even though he or she may not have been directly involved in the event (what I might know from a historical happening). 

(Sometimes, though, narration or storytelling is used to make a point, or even to make an argument, as in a parable, a fable, or in a sermon [or at a political rally]).  In telling, tellers capture and use DETAILS and organize and present with FEELINGS and EMOTIONS, yet ordering with reason-ableness.  (A reader or listener wants to hear or read details that emotionally involve–“Yeah!  That happened to me!”; details that are understandable; details that present a sense of time and past-ness to make it all ring true–memoriesofatime)

TELL A GOOD STORY.  BE HONEST AND TRUE.  PUT IT ALL IN GOOD ORDER: incidents, anecdotes, memories, nostalgics, milestones, autobiography, biography, family history. 

Jean Piaget told some teachers once upon a time that most people usually do not reflect upon their lives–and maybe cannot–until they are 18 or 19.  (He said some writers need to be taught how to reflect.)

Finally, once upon a time, the author Flannery O’Connor remarked that anybody who has survived childhood (the 18 or 19 mentioned by Piaget?) has enough information about life to last (to write about?) the rest of his or her days.



We do not know “that without a story you have not got a nation, or a culture, or a civilization.  Without a story of your own to live you haven’t got a life of your own.” –sam keen: TO A DANCING GOD.

Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads


By: James F. O’Neil

Memoirs are special stories: narratives with significance for the teller.  Sometimes memoirs are written by old people, sometimes not.  For a memoir could be in the form of a lecture, like that by a professor with pancreatic cancer: Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, a moving memoir about life and living and love and family.  Good stuff for storytelling

I want to share stories–about life and living and love and family.

Somewhere, somehow, I had a chance to write a story, “Once upon a time…”  I cannot OnceUponATime-Final-960x960remember that story, but I have others to write and many that I have already written–probably enough to last a lifetime, however long that might be.

I have a difficult time trying to organize.  I become frazzled and frustrated, not knowing how to begin or where to begin.  Yet I know enough to begin at that “once-upon-a-time” time.

For now, though, I begin with this:

“A large part of our self-concept consists of the narrative by means of which we remember and relate our past experiences,” wrote Sam Keen in To a Dancing God.

And this:


This is an Indian proverb from a wonderful “stories-told” book, The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo Thomas and Friends

And this also:

“What is the self?  It is the sum of everything we remember.”  I found this gem somewhere, from the author Milan Kundera.

Remembering is special.  It sometimes keeps me going.  But telling about the remembered?  The more I tell, the more I am.  And this is pleasing to me.  And how I do like those “once-upon-a-time” times.

© James F. O’Neil  2013

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