All stories have a vantage point, the lens from which the reader/hearer experience the action. The vantage point dictates the reality presented by the story determining what is seen and what is not seen.
This is obvious when watching something on a screen, the frame defines what can be seen. The director can move in and out by simply (un)zooming the lens and instantly change the viewpoint of the story. It is the good ones who can use this device without feeling the need to have everything explained. Certainty, as it presented by the story, only reaches as far as the eye can see and everything else is left to the imagination. Drama, or if you will the viewers attachment even entrance into the story is often found in what is just out of sight.
Storytelling can work the same way. The storyteller gets to decide from what vantage point the story will be told. Will it be from close-up with all the minutiae, from a wide angle providing only a panoramic view, or from anything in between? But the goal of a good story is the same, to draw the reader into the story and have him enter the story. The best stories are not those where everything is explained but where everything, even more than what is on the page, is experienced. Even after the last page is turned, the reader finds a reality they cannot escape; a reality they do not want to escape!
This is one area that those of us who tell the story of scripture often bog down. I know from my own failings, that I tend to have one aim meaning that I give only two points of view. I prefer to explain everything so my initial point of view is so close-up that nothing is left undescribed. In my zeal to fight against misunderstanding, I leave nothing to the imagination. I then jump immediately to the widest angle. I want all the territory visible so that nothing is left unseen. The imagination is crippled because there is nothing left out of view. My two vantage points have the same goal to explain everything…In the end it might make a nice picture, but does it make a good story?
I am afraid that even though I believe that stories have the ability to change people, to draw them into a new reality that do want to escape, I do not trust the Story I am telling enough to give it room to live. Sadly, in my attempt to protect the story it ceases to be a story at all.
The answer however is not as easy as compromising and finding a middle angle that gives just enough detail without losing the big picture (as if that happy medium could even be found!)…no the answer is messy. It means leaving some things out of sight and allowing the reader to enter the story. The story lives, not only in me as the storyteller, also in the one who hears.
The Story not the storyteller brings life!
Who brings stories to life for you?