In Defence Of Story Telling
"Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made."
"What's the use of stories that aren't even true?"
A stock Aesop
, affirming the usefulness and importance of story-telling. This can be done by having a story accomplish some useful end, but more often it is simply a matter of making the story-tellers the good guys and those who oppose story-telling the villains. Probably due to the fact that Most Writers Are Writers
This trope is about how it's good to create
stories. Compare Reading Is Cool Aesop
, which is about how it's good to read
Anime & Manga
- In the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart, the main character goes through a period of personal growth as she pursues her writing at the expense of her school work.
- The Worlds' End story arc of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (issues 51-56) is composed of a series of stories told by stranded travelers at an inn positioned between realities, an inverted Canterbury Tales. They have a framing story, which is eventually revealed to be one told by its narrator to a bartender. The next-to-last issue of the arc, "Cerements", has a story within a story itself...meaning there's five layers of storytelling going on at once. One of the characters, the narrator's friend, says she has no stories, and attempts to deconstruct the others told along Freudian lines. She decides to stay at the inn when everyone goes on their respective ways, implicitly abandoning her former life for one that will someday be a story worth telling.
- The movie Big Fish. It's more about how a fake interesting life is better than boring old reality, but it fits in there.
- This is the Baron's overall point in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He knows that what he's telling people is patently ridiculous, but it's more interesting than boring old reality.
- In the 1952 Danny Kaye movie Hans Christian Andersen, the title character is run out of town for his story-telling. He goes to Copenhagen, where he makes it big, and is eventually welcomed home with open arms! The movie also provides at least one example of how story-telling can be useful: When Andersen meets a boy who feels insecure about his shaved head, he cheers him up with the story of "The Ugly Duckling".
- Similarly, in the 1962 movie The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, the brothers are mocked for collecting folk tales. In the end, they are vindicated when the stories they publish become much more popular than the more "serious" work they do.
- In the 1967 musical adaptation of Doctor Dolittle, Matthew's first song, to Tom, praises the doctor for his inventiveness and love of story-telling. He later sings a song to Emma where he defends the doctor's whimsy, explaining that the world truly is a wonderful place, but that it takes someone with a healthy imagination to see it.
- This is seen in Secondhand Lions with Garth telling young Walter about him and his brother Hub and their adventures in Africa. When Walter asks Hub if it's true, and how his mother tells so many lies he doesn't know what to believe anymore, Hub tells him if he wants to believe in it to believe. Later, when Walter's mother shows up with an FBI agent ( or so he claims) telling him Hub and Garth were actually bank robbers, Walter chooses to believe the stories. Years later, his faith is vindicated when he meets the grandson of the sheik who was the villain of those stories.
- This trope is at least Older Than Steam. As The Thousand And One Nights showed us, a well-told story can save one thousand innocent lives (including your own), massively improve the life conditions in your country, and help you marry into the royal family.
- Salman Rushdie's children's novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories has two villains with very different attitudes towards stories. One insists that all stories are pointless, while the other believes they can be very useful - as tools of propaganda. Unusually, this novel provides an example of a story being put to a realistic, practical use. At the end, Rashid tells the (true but fantastic-sounding) story of his and Haroun's adventures. The people who hear it are so inspired that they rise up and run a corrupt politician out of town.
- In The Neverending Story, Fantasia is sick because humans have stopped coming there (i.e. dreaming and telling stories). However we're told that this is also making the human world sick. The job of those who travel to Fantasia is not merely to save it from destruction, but to "make both worlds well".
- One of the characters of the Alvin Maker series is an itinerant storyteller who often defends the art.
- In Voyage Of The Basset, one of the protagonists, Professor Aisling, is taunted by a fellow academic to defend why mythology is important. He ends up responding that in order to do things like science, the mind must be kept open and given ideas, and mythology is a way to do that.
- The underlying Aesop for Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince: an imaginative little girl makes up stories about actual people she meets, and Lori takes her stories seriously enough to investigate, which permits all the happy results of the book Lady Barbara and Mikhail being reunited after so many decades, Skeaping Manor getting a sponsor and a proper security system, Bree meeting her favourite author and finding a bit of purpose in her new life, Tiffany and her children getting out of the city and discovering joy in life among others.
- J. R. R. Tolkien was once famously challenged on this issue by his friend C. S. Lewis. He responded in classic Tolkien fashion by writing a poem, entitled "Mythopoeia". In it he affirms that story-telling is not merely defensible, but a divine right.
- In the play, The Harbinger, the title character's books and stories are represented as the one ray of hope in a city full of darkness and misery.
- Dragon Age II: Varric is a professional storyteller, as well as The Narrator of the story, who obviously embellishes many parts of it. In-story, he lampshades how important a well-told story is, stating that "History is just the best stories, the ones that last".