Wednesday January 17
Subscribe to RSS Feed

Take Me Somewhere New—Tell Me A Story

December 3, 2011 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified May 20, 2013

What would we do without story? Stories of adventure and romance and horror and suspense not only entertain, but they teach us, they open our eyes. They make us feel, expose us to pain, twist our emotions and wring us out in ways we’d never allow friends or family or even our enemies to do.

We read the last page of a book, feeling something, knowing something we hadn’t felt or known 350 pages earlier. We’ve raced through unfamiliar cities and countries, chasing or being chased by spies or killers or angry spouses. Chased by our fears.

Chased by our dreams.

We’ve wept at the chime of bells from a medieval cathedral, fingered the brittle bones of a mummy, perspired under the night air of the tropics.

We know the heat of Tahitian sand under our toes, the grit of blowing Saharan sand in our eyes, the dry clawing of Tombstone dirt in our throats.

We’ve fallen in love. We’ve fallen out of love. We’ve declared ourselves free from love.

We’ve been betrayed by someone dear to us.

We’ve betrayed someone dear to us.

We do in two or three hours—between the covers of a book—what we never imagined doing when rolling out of bed in the morning, when brushing our teeth or feeding the dog.

We plan a heist to steal a fabulous gem. We plan revenge. We plan a murder.

We live without encumbrance, without the strictures of society. We live fervently, sometimes with joy, often with fear.

We live wildly. Boldly. Never safely. We dream big and succeed big.

We fail with the whole world watching.

We are shamed.

We sometimes die.

And it’s all in story, words on a page. Letters strung together to create complex realities out of barren nothing.

Out of nothing.

Story takes us where we can’t safely go in our daily lives, perhaps satisfying our yearning, perhaps stoking it until we can’t resist making our real world mimic the fictional ones in which we play.

But wherever we go and whatever we do, whatever we escape from and escape into, story is a power that grabs us. Whether it’s a need in our brains or a desire of the soul, story is necessary, vital, for us to thrive. It’s necessary for our very survival.

Imagination—in the mind, on the screen, between the pages of a book—satisfies our need to explore, to wonder what if. To step beyond what is and into what could be.


How amazing that words—imagined people and imagined events and imagined places—can make us cry. Can inspire us. Can reduce us to whimpering children hiding under the covers, fearful of the unknown.

Story entrances, pulling us away from duty and boredom and the common, introducing us to those who embrace duty to the point of death, those whose lives have never known boredom, those who transcend the common on their way to immortality.

Story gives us hope.

It takes us outside self, far beyond our limited worldview and experiences.

It reaches deep, revealing the strengths within our own spirits.

Story draws us in. Story draws us deep. And story ultimately lets us go.

But story, in all its power, keeps drawing us back.



Tags: , ,     Posted in: A Writer's Life

3 Responses to “Take Me Somewhere New—Tell Me A Story”

  1. Pat Bertram says:

    You have such a wonderful way with words, Beth! Stories are part of our lives, and we all love a story. Even people who don’t think they like stories like stories. What is sports but a story? The hero. The villain. The conflict. The climax. The triumph. The end.

    One of the few things that make us different from other creatures is our ability to share stories. Writing them, of course, is a different matter.

  2. Pat, I love your succinct summation of sport as story. That’s perfect.

    We do love our stories, don’t we? I’m so glad we’ve got so many to choose from.