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
- I was in a bad place before I started high school and you helped me. Even if you didn't know what I was talking about or know someone who has gone through it, you made me not feel alone. Because I know there are people who say all these things don't happen. And there are people who forget what it's like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We'll all become somebody's mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening, I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you're listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.
- We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
- Joan Didion, in The White Album (1979), 'The White Album, 1'
- Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren't many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren't many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn't that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?
There will be many who find To the Wonder elusive and too effervescent. They'll be dissatisfied by a film that would rather evoke than supply. I understand that, and I think Terrence Malick does, too. But here he has attempted to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need.
- 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'
- Last year, initially The Scotsman newspaper — being Scottish and J. K. Rowling being Scottish — and because of the English tendency to try and tear down their idols, they kept trying to build stories which said J. K. Rowling ripped off Neil Gaiman. They kept getting in touch with me and I kept declining to play because I thought it was silly. And then The Daily Mirror in England ran an article about that mad woman who was trying to sue J. K. Rowling over having stolen muggles from her. And they finished off with a line saying [something like]: And Neil Gaiman has accused her of stealing.
Luckily I found this online and I found it the night it came out by pure coincidence and the reporter's e-mail address was at the bottom of the thing so I fired off an e-mail saying: This is not true, I never said this. You are making this up. I got an apologetic e-mail back, but by the time I'd gotten the apologetic e-mail back it was already in The Daily Mail the following morning and it was very obvious that The Daily Mail‘s research [had] consisted of reading The Daily Mirror. And you're going: journalists are so lazy.
- 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)
- At the same time, though, studio heads and producers have been relatively quick to welcome back actors, directors, and writers who’ve been accused of harassment and assault, particularly when their status makes them seem irreplaceable. It’s a dual-edged message: Don’t abuse your power, but if you do, you’ll still have a career. Part of the confusion comes down to the fact that these men are seen as invaluable because the stories they tell are still understood to have disproportionate worth. When the slate of new fall TV shows is filled with father-and-son buddy-cop stories and prison-break narratives and not one but two gentle, empathetic examinations of male grief, it’s harder to imagine how women writers and directors might step up to occupy a sudden void. When television and film are fixated on helping audiences find sympathy for troubled, selfish, cruel, brilliant men, it’s easier to believe that the troubled, brilliant men in real life also deserve empathy, forgiveness, and second chances. And so the tangible achievements one year into the #MeToo movement need to be considered hand in hand with the fact that the stories being told haven’t changed much at all, and neither have the people telling them. A true reckoning with structural disparities in the entertainment industry will demand something else as well: acknowledging that women’s voices and women’s stories are not only worth believing, but also worth hearing. At every level.
- Sophie Gilbert, “The Men of #MeToo Go Back to Work“, The Atlantic, (Oct 12, 2018).
- 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'
- I don't think he needs to be immortal. I think all he needs to do is to write the right story. Because some stories do live forever.
- What do you think stories are for? These stories are classics. There's a reason we all know them. They're a way for us to deal with our world. A world that doesn't always make sense.
- If you start getting scared of what story you’re telling, it’s going to show. You have to be kind of stupidly fearless, I think, to do this stuff, because otherwise you’re going to try to please people. And that’s not what we’re in the business of doing. Which is weird, because we’re in the video game business — we want to please people so that they’re going to have an entertaining experience, but we’re not trying to make people super-comfortable with everything. We want to challenge people, and we want to challenge ourselves, too.
- Ken Levine, "BioShock Infinite Creator Ken Levine Says He Doesn’t Believe In Utopias (Including Peter Thiel’s)" by Anthony Ha, Tech Crunch, Mar 27, 2013
- 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
- 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.
- [H]ow are mathematical activities like game-playing...? ...One makes sense of narrative, whether fictional or factual, by a mental construction that is sometimes called the world of story ...[which] may be the real world at some other time or right now in some other place ...imaginative effort is a standard way of understanding what people say ...In order to understand connected speech about concrete things, one imagines them. This is as obvious as it is unclear how we do it. ...I imagine myself in those circumstances and ask myself what I can see. Pretending to be in those circumstances does not conflict with my certain knowledge that on the contrary I am listening to the news on my radio at home. The capacity to do this... encourages empathy, but it also allows one to do mathematics. ...This is often fun, and it is a form of playing with ideas.
- Robert Spencer David Thomas, "Mathematics is Not a Game But..." (January, 2009) The Mathematical Intelligencer Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 4-8. Also published in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 (2011) pp. 79-88.
- 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