Terri Windling over at Myth & Moor reminded me of something important today by sharing a quote from Walter Benjamin:
The first true storyteller is, and will continue to be, the teller of fairy tales.
I remember reading a lot of Benjamin in my college days and after Windling’s post, I was reminded of the necessary essence of a story: to transport the listener or reader. The storyteller’s responsibility is to convey meaning, emotion, adventure through the lens of narration, to transplant the images from their head into others. An infinite amount of connections are formed, some spinning out from the original story, then from those that recite, rework, and retell the tale. The essence of the story, the transformative nature remains, even as the vestments of the tale are updated and altered.
As I build out the fractal outline that will be my own story, I can see the patterns that are repeating, reflections of stories I’ve lived and loved and people I’ve encountered. I am discovering the thinness of my characters from the original outline and clothing them, adding the heft of experience, trauma, delight, and charm. Previously, while I was world building, I concentrated on the realm in which they’d inhabit forgetting completely about the interior lives that drive the choices we make in that realm.
These fairy stories have a magic that shapes both worlds. I’d be a better writer to pull from that well.