Monday, June 11, 2007

Blog Me a Story

Red Riding Hood

Do you want to engage your blog readers, even help them change their lives? Consider telling stories.

Stories are, after all, "sticky." So say the authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. (Thanks for the book recommendation, Al.)

In other words, you are more likely to remember this post and follow its advice if I tell you a story. Of course, the story would have to be related. I couldn't just tell the story of Red Riding Hood somewhere in the middle of all this and hope to make my point stick. Unless, of course I told it like this...

Once upon a time, a little blogger named Red Riding Hood went out into the big cyberwoods, a place filled with html thorns and drooling Blogspot wolves.

All day, Red skipped through the forest, hoping to gather readers and impact their lives. She picked abstract thoughts and put them in her blogger basket. She preached morals to the woodland flowers. She left crumbs of lifeless philosophy along the path. [Oops, that's a different story, about two naughty children who get lost in cyberspace and almost get eaten! Why does everybody almost get eaten in these innocent little stories?]

Anyway, as the cybersun was setting, Red arrived at a lovely cottage only to discover the terrible truth... Her sage, grandmotherly advice had been gobbled up, because she forgot to lock it in her readers' heads with a solid story bolt. "My," she said to the cyberwolves, "what big teeth you have!"

I've told better stories in my day. But even a half-baked story will make a bigger impression than an overdone helping of abstract prose.

Say Heath & Heath, "A story is powerful because it provides the context missing from abstract prose....[Stories put] knowledge into a framework that is more lifelike, more true to our day-to-day existence. More like a flight simulator. Being the audience for a story isn't so passive...Inside, we're getting ready to act." (p.214)

So, blog me a story. And maybe you'll change my life.

Red Hat in the Ivy photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Charity's Hollywood Endings

L.L's poem Even. Tell me, do you think this has any elements of story? What is the minimum requirement in a "text", for it to qualify as story?

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Blogger spaghettipie said...

Storytelling is extremely powerful - look how often Jesus told stories rather than simply preaching a sermon.

I'll never hear red riding hood quite the same again, now...

2:38 PM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...

Okay, L.L., I couldn't resist. All I'm doing on my blog is telling stories. Here's the link:

I haven't had the mental energy for much else in a while. Hopefully that will change!

5:26 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Spaghetti... yes, I love the stories of Jesus. They are surely "sticky," in more ways than one!

Christine... Oh! Welcome to Seedlings. How wonderful to have you stop by. I found you the other day, skipping over from Galliblog, and was thrilled (I've always felt a kinship with you when reading your comments at Mark's). Anyway, I couldn't seem to get 'round all the comment security on Wordpress. So I just read. It's delightful to have a place to dialog with you. And thank you for sharing your stories.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

HaWooooooo *cough, cough*

Sorry. Scratchy throat.
I was just in the mood for a howl at the moment. Your story inspired me.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Not just Jesus, but so much of the Bible is stories. The story that becomes the identity of the Jews and the Christians.
And what's funny to me, when God wanted to give a glimpse into the future, he gave a story to John.
And, hey, maybe someday I could knit that cap! (Is that like pimp my ride?)

6:08 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Perhaps that is why blogging is so powerful, seductive..."what a tangled web we weave" Pun intended.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...

Thanks for the welcome, LL. I've been quietly enjoying your work for a while.

I'm new to this blogging thing, so I don't know what I'm doing wrong re. comments.

I love the photo today, so crisp and bright.

: )

8:44 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

Well, there's a blog entry I'm not likely to forget anytime soon! Love your cyber-spin on that age-old tale!

When I was little, I had an illustrated Bible with the passages broken down into little stories with quotes and conversations and all. I wore that Bible out! And what a foundation I got for more serious Bible reading when I got older!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I need to grow in this capacity. I have to admit while I do believe story is important and vital for understanding life and communicating that understanding to others, I'm not completely sold that just everything has to be story.

I'm thinking of books like Romans and 1 John, which, while having within them some story and certainly themes from the story, are in themselves rather given, I think, to nonstory telling. Am I amiss somehow in this?

At the same time the Bible is loaded with story after story. And my own blogging is really not.

So I need to learn and grow here, and can do so by reading (and looking at in blogs like yours) blogs like your own.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Donetta said...

Once upon a time wild free and inventivethe woman rode the internet wave to find treasures of all that could be seen.
A jewel was discovered here in the midst of the calm.

10:46 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... oh, and I bet you're going to tell me you don't like ham sandwiches either. Still, it's nice to have you prowling around again (missed you on the last post! )

Heather... I like that thought about the final book being something of a story. I know some people shy away from it because it seems daunting, but somehow I have the feeling we should read it like any other story... realizing that we don't get all the clues now, but that they will all come together in a sort of "aha!" way as the story continues to unfold.

Andrea... yes, I was thinking that blogging is the weaving of communal story, and part of what makes a particular destination fun is the nature of the community members... how much story they create through their comments.

Christine... how marvelous that you've been here just sipping tea over in the corner. Good to have you at the table! I don't know much about Wordpress.

CAN ANYONE HELP Christine with how to set up her comments so they are more accessible to those who don't have a Wordpress account?

Inihtar... so, you will have to tell me a cyberfairytale, and we shall we even. I love that story about your childhood bible.

TED!!! You're here! In cyber-color! Nice to see your face. And I'm so glad you brought up this point. I was waiting for someone to bring out another side. And I also was thinking of Romans.

Now, I have my ideas, but does anyone else wish to wrestle with Ted's question about how much story we really need, or whether story is always the way to go?

A Life Uncommon... Welcome to Seedlings. What a poetic entrance, my dear. Bringing a pearl to add to the treasures!

1:35 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Okay, I'll take up the challenge. Ted, I think, has a point, but I also reserve a counter point at the end.

True, that many literary genres can touch, teach, affect and enrich our lives.

The Bible gives us poetry, wisdom, history, hymn, law code and so on that also may relate to remembering and following advice.

Now, it does seem to me, that LL's point of contrasting story and abstract prose is helpful. Story carries alot more weight in our lives - perhaps, because we have a narrative identity?

Lastly, I wonder if Paul's writings, notably Romans and 1&2 Cor., are story in letter form. Seems to me he is telling God's, his own, the Corinthians, Romans, and Jews story with rhetorical flare and theological acumen - that is, he recounts a universal story told to every generation right down to our own.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Greg, I like your point and have seen Romans and the like similarly as you describe. It is words depicting something of the story of God. And getting us to the heart of it.

And other genres help us in knowing our place in the story, like wisdom literature, etc.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Lloyd Irving Bradbury said...

The drummer beats a trail
thu s dtory using words
to beat our ,ind a picture open our eyes as a nother portal

2:20 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

I know I'm joining the discussion a bit late ... I love the points of view presented here thus far.

I've been thinking on this lately, thinking about how God weaves each one of us into the story He is writing. We can look back and see how he used the most unlikely "characters" like Rahab, David, Peter (or any of the disciples, really) and realize that maybe ... just maybe, He could use unlikely characters like us too.

Whether its poetry, theology, history, or parable ... we have the Story to cling to, to live by, to point us in the right direction.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Another response to Ted's point:maybe the epistles work so well because they tie so closely to our own stories and so we supply the narrative background ourselves. Perhaps this also explains why they have such high impact (well, that and the Holy Spirit). I'm wondering out loud here, so don't take this as set in stone proof.

7:38 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Greg... I was thinking something similar about why the more abstract writings of the bible still speak so strongly... for they call up a story that is well-known. Of course, if someone doesn't have the Old Testament narrative firmly in place, I think these NT texts potentially have less impact, or are less "sticky" (memorable) because there's less in the reader to attach to.

Ted... so these texts, I guess, are like having a good discussion of a story in Lit. class... where anyone who has missed the point of the story might have a second chance to get the heart of it.

Lloyd... I think you are right that story connects to picture, and pictures are powerful (especially yours... I love your artwork!)

Kirsten... perhaps it is a collaborative writing project?

A Musing... there is definitely the dynamic of a reader bringing his or her story to a text. Thus, even a "dry" text might find life in the mind of an imaginative reader. This is why I think it's a little more complicated, perhaps, than Heath & Heath discuss. Still, the studies seemed to indicate that telling a story is a very "sticky" way to get one's point across.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

LL, so I have taken up your challenge and have blogged you a story (a little, or a lot, late in the game I admit).

But I wanted you to know that this blog inspired my entry today. Thanks!!

12:50 PM  

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