What’s a Story? Erynn Pontius

One of my absolute favorite pieces of literature is, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It wasn’t necessarily the actions or the characters struggles which sparked my love for this novel, it was the beautiful language and linguistic style of the author. Her sculpture of words created such breathtaking imagery and fascination for me as a reader, and upon reflection of other stories I’ve enjoyed there is another feature to a story that marks it as “good.” The five essentials to a story, character, intent, actions, struggles and details are all present and imperative in celebrated works of literature and famous novels and articles, but I believe there is a sixth element that pushes these pieces past the easily forgettable. Just as these elements of a story are important in connecting to the reader, the storyteller can carve a mediocre character and series of events into a work of art through their style and unique presentation.

I would define story as an experience, whether imagined or an actual recollection, the words travel through our minds and become real all the same. It is an important and time-honored part of our culture that has branched to encompass many different aspects, yet our language seems to lack the same complex descriptions or definitions of what it has become. However I don’t think we need several different word choices to understand what a “story” entails. Isn’t there a type of irony and beauty in packing so much complexity into one simple word? Here our imaginations and personal connotations can delve even deeper and create the spaces our minds want to explore. A definition is never concrete, it can be changed, altered and even destroyed by how we perceive and manipulate them.  There can never be one true definition of what a story is because the stories we choose to tell are always transforming and pushing the invisible boundaries of our language.


3 thoughts on “What’s a Story? Erynn Pontius

  1. meaganmthornton January 20, 2015 / 4:13 am

    I agree with you that a good story often is made that way by how it is presented and in the way it is styled. Imagery is always what I enjoy the most when I’m reading anything and I agree it is essential to a good story. You can theoretically tell a story without using imagery, but it would suck. – Noah Bailey


  2. meaganmthornton January 25, 2015 / 1:55 am

    This was a great thought – “There can never be one true definition of what a story is because the stories we choose to tell are always transforming and pushing the invisible boundaries of our language.” After my reading for the course and prepping, I agree with you that the definition shifts and transforms with culture, language, and in the hands/minds of the teller. – Meagan


  3. meaganmthornton April 19, 2015 / 1:39 am

    I love the idea that language can make or break a story. I remember reading stories that might not be completely memorable based on the story itself, but the language the author uses makes it memorable. I have come across this in my reading experience as well. – Cassie Goff


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