A Story or narrative is any account that presents connected events of fact or fiction in a meaningful manner. Along with exposition, argumentation, and description, narration, broadly defined, is one of four rhetorical modes of human discourse.
- Reality is not always probable, or likely. But if you're writing a story, you have to make it as plausible as you can, because if not, the reader's imagination will reject it.
- All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.
- Anne Brontë, in Agnes Grey (1847), Ch. I: The Parsonage
- Don't let them tell us stories. Don't let them say of the man sentenced to death "He is going to pay his debt to society," but: "They are going to cut off his head." It looks like nothing. But it does make a little difference. And then there are people who prefer to look their fate in the eye.
- Albert Camus, in "Entre oui et non" in L'Envers et l'endroit (1937), translated as "Between Yes and No", in World Review magazine (March 1950), also quoted in The Artist and Political Vision (1982) by Benjamin R. Barber and Michael J. Gargas McGrath
- Isn't it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years.
- Willa Cather, in O Pioneers! (1913), Part II, Ch. 4
- We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
- Joan Didion, in The White Album (1979), 'The White Album, 1'
- Storyless spaces, like black holes, suck ferociously on whatever comes into their orbit in their need to be occupied.
- Jenny Diski, in The Dream Mistress (1996). London: Phoenix, 1997, p. 33
- Plot does not define story. Plot is the framework within which ideas are explored and personalities and relationships are unfolded. If all you want is plot, go and read a Tom Clancy novel.
- Warren Ellis, in Bad Signal
- Any story worth telling relates to real life in some meaningful way. Scifi allows you to tell meaningful stories without seeming too preachy — it adds a metaphorical layer between the story and the real world. Scifi is dismissed as ungrounded fluff, but it's actually the opposite.
- Literature is conscious mythology: as society develops, its mythical stories become structural principles of story-telling, its mythical concepts, sun-gods and the like, become habits of metaphoric thought. In a fully mature literary tradition the writer enters into a structure of traditional stories and images.
- Northrop Frye, in The Bush Garden (1971), 'Conclusion'
- The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it's about and why you're doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising ("but of course that's why he was doing that, and that means that...") and it's magic and wonderful and strange.
- Neil Gaiman, in Neil Gaiman's Journal (15 October 2007)
- Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
- Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.
- Ernest Hemingway, in Death in the Afternoon (1932), Ch. 11
- When I was writing Dune there was no room in my mind for concerns about the book's success or failure. I was concerned only with the writing. Six years of research had preceded the day I sat down to put the story together, and the interweaving of the many plot layers I had planned required a degree of concentration I had never before experienced.
It was to be a story exploring the myth of the Messiah.
It was to produce another view of a human-occupied planet as an energy machine.
It was to penetrate the interlocked workings of politics and economics.
It was to be an examination of absolute prediction and its pitfalls.
It was to have an awareness drug in it and tell what could happen through dependence on such a substance.
Potable water was to be an analog for oil and for water itself, a substance whose supply diminishes each day.
It was to be an ecological novel, then, with many overtones, as well as a story about people and their human concerns with human values, and I had to monitor each of these levels at every stage in the book.
There wasn't room in my head to think about much else.
- I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.
- Washington Irving, in Tales of a Traveler (1824), 'To the Reader'
- My stories are history of a kind. The difference is that I write of the nameless ones, and when they have left no stories I write what must have been, what could have been, using knowledge of the country itself, how it was traveled, how many people lived by hunting and gathering, and what their relationships might have been with the Indians and others.
Yet my stories or any others, as well as history itself, must always be read with the understanding that we know only a small part of the whole picture.
- Louis L'Amour, The Sackett Companion: The Facts Behind the Fiction. Random House Publishing. 19 February 2009. ISBN 9780307490384.
- The stock market was created by the telegraph and the telephone, and its panics are engineered by carefully orchestrated stories in the press.
- Marshall McLuhan, in Counterblast (1969), p. 106
- Silly me; silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you'll have a mum and dad, and you won't even remember me. Well, you'll remember me a little... I'll be a story in your head. But that's OK. We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Cause it was, you know. It was the best. A daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away.
- Don't be alone, Doctor. And do one more thing for me. There's a little girl waiting in a garden. She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she's patient, the days are coming that she'll never forget. Tell her she'll go to sea and fight pirates. She'll fall in love with a man who'll wait two-thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she'll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.
- All Nature's wildness tells the same story: the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort, each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature's heart.
- I'm trying to avoid that thing where you get a story in your head that's very clean. I think there are too many people that come up with a very simple story where they're the hero, and they don't learn anything.
- Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.
- Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture (2008)
- Narrating incredible things as though they were real—old system; narrating realities as though they were incredible—the new.
- Cesare Pavese, The business of living, 1943-11-11
- Attend me briefly while I now disclose
How art of fable telling first arose.
Unhappy slaves, in servitude confined,
Dared not to harsh masters show their mind,
But under veiling of fable’s dress
Contrived their thoughts and feelings to express,
Escaping still their lords’ affronted wrath.
So Aesop did; I widen out his path.
- For, beyond all doubt, there is a certain kind of legitimate faking in story construction. Aristotle was hot on its trail when he declared that the dramatist must not use, in his plots, events which are improbable, even though they are possible; and he should always select events which are probable, even though impossible. In other words, what decides the whole business is the attitude of the audience and its actual response to what is presented to them.
The impression which a story makes upon a person is always relative to his knowledge, his range of experience, his emotional habits, and his social prejudices and customs. Few of us have a very wide or deep hold upon the truth, as the scientist understands truth. Hence, mere fact does not weigh heavily in our likes and dislikes of stories. If it did, historians and biologists would rank as high in literature as Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens.
- Navita de ventis, de tauris narrat arator,
Enumerat miles vulnera, pastor oves.
- The sailor tells stories of the winds, the ploughman of bulls;
the soldier counts his wounds, the shepherd his sheep.
- Sextus Propertius, in Elegies, Book II, no. i, lines 43-4
- The sailor tells stories of the winds, the ploughman of bulls;
- One of the ghosts — an old woman — beckoned, urging her to come close.
Then she spoke, and Mary heard her say:
"Tell them stories. They need the truth. You must tell them true stories, and everything will be well, just tell them stories."
That was all, and then she was gone. It was one of those moments when we suddenly recall a dream that we’ve unaccountably forgotten, and back in a flood comes all the emotion we felt in our sleep. It was the dream she’d tried to describe to Atal, the night picture; but as Mary tried to find it again, it dissolved and drifted apart, just as these presences did in the open air. The dream was gone.
All that was left was the sweetness of that feeling, and the injunction to tell them stories.
- A sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a real and important story, a sense of being connected to other people, to people who are not here any more, to those who have gone before us. And a sense of being connected to the universe itself.
All those things were promised and summed up in the phrase, 'The Kingdom of Heaven'. But if the Kingdom is dead, we still need those things. We can't live without those things because it's too bleak, it's too bare and we don't need to. We can find a way of creating them for ourselves if we think in terms of a Republic of Heaven.
This is not a Kingdom but a Republic, in which we are all free and equal citizens, with — and this is the important thing — responsibilities. With the responsibility to make this place into a Republic of Heaven for everyone. Not to live in it in a state of perpetual self-indulgence, but to work hard to make this place as good as we possibly can.
- All these tattered old bits and pieces have a history and a meaning. A group of them together can seem like the traces left by an ionizing particle in a bubble chamber: they draw the line of a path taken by something too mysterious to see. That path is a story, of course. What scientists do when they look at the line of bubbles on the screen is work out the story of the particle that made them: what sort of particle it must have been, and what caused it to move in that way, and how long it was likely to continue.
Dr. Mary Malone would have been familiar with that sort of story in the course of her search for dark matter. But it might not have occurred to her, for example, when she sent a postcard to an old friend shortly after arriving in Oxford for the first time, that that card itself would trace part of a story that hadn't yet happened when she wrote it. Perhaps some particles move backward in time; perhaps the future affects the past in some way we don't understand; or perhaps the universe is simply more aware than we are. There are many things we haven't yet learned how to read.
The story in this book is partly about that very process.
- That’s why stories appeal to us. They give us the clarity and simplicity our real lives lack.
- Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (2007), Chapter 45
- The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
- Muriel Rukeyser, in "The Speed of Darkness" in The Speed of Darkness (1968); this line is sometimes misquoted as "The Universe is made of stories not atoms."
- No story comes from nowhere; new stories are born from old — it is the new combinations that make them new.
- Salman Rushdie, in Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990)
- Les hommes ne veulent connaître que l'histoire des grands et des rois, qui ne sert à personne.
- Men wish to hear no stories but those about the great and powerful, which are no use to anyone.
- Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, in Paul et Virginie (1788)
- I'll to thy closet; and go read with thee
Sad stories, chanced in the times of old.
- William Shakespeare, in Titus Andronicus (1592), Act III, scene ii, l. 81-2 (Titus to Lavinia).
- Their copious stories, oftentimes begun,
End without audience, and are never done.
- William Shakespeare, in Venus and Adonis (1593), stanza 141, l. 845-6
- For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.
- Whenever I direct a film, I always keep this in mind, never put too much explanation in the story, if I put in too much details in the story, there won’t be much room for the viewers’ imagination. And a good story must have good balance, if the story is too complicated, the viewers would have difficulty following the story. That is why I am always taking care of the balance.
- Shinichiro Watanabe, "Interview with Shinichiro Watanabe on 10 November 2012 during Anime Festival Asia(“AFA”) 2012" by Renato, Macrossworld.com (Jan 1, 2013)
- Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.
- Margaret Wheatley (2002) Turning to one another p. 92