Twists in Storytelling

I rarely read fiction, or watch fiction shows on television. I have not succeeded in writing a good story ever. But, I consider it to be a limitation that I need to overcome.

Hence, the interpretation by VR filmmaker, Jessica Brillhart, struck an immediate chord.

 “Story to me is a result of an experience. We filter out our experiences in order to better communicate that to someone else. So I make a film about something that’s happened to me or something that I believe has happened to someone and I represent that to you.”

This aspect of storytelling makes it so relevant to putting a point across – in an article, speech, video or training program. It creates an immediate connect with the audience, as each individual links it to an experience in his or her life. It fuels imagination, and ‘lights up the relevant neural pathways’ (as a brain scientist would put it). It creates a receptive soil, for absorption of further inputs, and flowering of new thoughts.


A story gives an idea about what is possible.

I remember a story I had read in a school textbook, about a couple who are affiliated to different political parties. The wife spews venom against her husband, in the election campaign. She sells the first piece of jewellery that was gifted by her husband, when the party needs funds. On the evening before the poll, she overhears her husband’s chat with his friend. The husband chuckles that he loves his wife, for her fiery passion towards any cause that she believes in. She spends the night in deep reflection, and   the next morning sees her cast her vote in her husband’s favor.

The power of this story lies in the fact, that it had set my expectations for a future partner, right then, in my pre-teens.


Too much noise in a story fails to build up the right expectations.

A trainer opened a session on Emotional Intelligence, by discussing the Magic of the number 7, or 21 or 40, and how do they help in formation of habits. It immediately led to the question “Why are we discussing this?”. It took some time for the class to catch, that emotional intelligence can be a cultivated habit that helps. The placement of the example in the storyline led to confusion.

See the following commercials with garbled messages, that have qualified as Worst Indian Ads of the year 2014, by Anuholic.

Worst Indian Ads 2014


We accept opinions as facts, if we see the same thing being repeated in several social media posts. Further linkages are invented by the people circulating the posts.

As I write this, I am watching Sonakshi Sinha on TV, narrating the story of her grandmother’s initial refusal to allow her beauty queen mother to marry her father, who was a struggling actor at that point of time (fact). On being asked about the circumstances that led to her final consent, she said,

“Stardom induces acceptance of everything”. (Opinion)

It is a fact that her father, Shatrughan Sinha had attained stardom, before his marriage. But it is only Sonakshi who creates a linkage between his stardom, and her grandmother’s consent. The line between the two is very thin, and can be used both with a positive and negative intent.

Virtual reality and Augmented reality will carry this theme further, with a lot of new twists.


There are lobbies in the corridors of power, which do not want people to see possibilities of freedom, or better alternatives.

The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are, because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power.

The storyteller is the truthteller.

 Ursula K. Le Guin


Is this a fact or opinion?


 This is the age of micro-learning. It is only a strong recurrent theme linkage between the various capsules doled out, which can maintain a semblance of continuity in the message. Each link in the story needs to link up to the principal theme, to keep the learners on track. We cannot afford to overlook the fact, that the learner is being bombarded with several contradictory messages at the same time. We need to empower learners with a strong analytical ability, to accept or refute contradicting theories.

Maria Popova puts it beautifully, when she says (

“Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art, than productivity.”

There is a great responsibility on the shoulders of the story-teller, as well as the viewer.

Reena Saxena

Reena Saxena

Reena Saxena is an Image & Success Coach/Trainer by profession, and a blogger/writer by choice.

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