Things I Know 321 of 365: Orson Scott Card has some fine words on storytelling

From Orson Scott Card’s introduction to Ender’s Game:

All these uses are valid: all these readings of the book are “correct.” For all these readers have placed themselves inside this story, not as spectators, but as participants, and so have looked at the world of Ender’s Game, not with my eyes only, but also with their own.

This is the essence of the transaction between storyteller and audience. The “true” story is not the one that exists in my mind; it is certainly not the written words on the bound paper that you hold in your hands. The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experiences, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.

Ironically, Card writes, that he would not only understand if the reader skipped the introduction and went straight to the story, he would agree with the reader. I’m glad I didn’t. I would have missed this reminder of the relationship of story.


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