Favorite Storytelling Quotes

The greatest influences on my thinking and philosophy of writing are my parents, John R. Erickson, Gene Edward Veith Jr., Francis Schaeffer, J. R. R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, and Andrew Peterson. Here are a couple of my favorite storytelling quotes:

“So this is a story about light and goodness and Truth with a capital T. It’s about beauty, and resurrection, and redemption. But for those things to ring true in a child’s heart, the storyteller has to be honest. He has to acknowledge that sometimes when the hall light goes out and the bedroom goes dark, the world is a scary place. He has to nod his head to the presence of all the sadness in the world; children know it’s there from a very young age, and I wonder sometimes if that’s why babies cry. He has to admit that sometimes characters make bad choices, because every child has seen their parent angry or irritable or deceitful–even the best people in our lives are capable of evil.

But of course the storyteller can’t stop there. He has to show in the end there is a Great Good in the world (and beyond it). Sometimes it is necessary to paint the sky black in order to show how beautiful is the prick of light. Gather all the wickedness in the universe into its loudest shriek and God hears it as a squeak at best. And that is a comforting thought. When a child reads the last sentence of my stories, I hope he or she drifts to sleep with a glow in their hearts and a warmth in their bones, believing that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” -Andrew Peterson (WingeatherSaga.com)


“Shelter your children. Yes. Absolutely. But use a picnic shelter, not a lightless bomb bunker, and not virtual reality goggles looping bubblegum clouds. Feast with them on fiction in safety, laugh with them through terrible adventures seething with real weather. They should feel the wind and fear the lightning and witness the fools and heroes—and yet stay protected.

Faithful artists should provide sabbaths, not escapes. We should be crafting periods of rest and inspiration that will feed, fuel, and empower readers to engage more deeply in reality as faithful men and women. To step out of the shelter when the time comes.

In your picnic shelter, pack stories that bless the meek and shatter the proud. Stories that use hardship to burn away the dross in characters. Stories that honor the honorable and damn the damnable.

Childhood is the time for truth, and adulthood is the time for a deeper understanding of the same. To seed courage, we must show fear. To reveal triumph, we must build enemies. To tell the truth about what it means to be heroic, we must spin a fiction full of danger.

Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton: “If the characters are not wicked, the book is.” We must tell stories the way God does, stories in which a sister must float her little brother on a river with nothing but a basket between him and the crocodiles. Stories in which a king is a coward, and a shepherd boy steps forward to face the giant. Stories with fiery serpents and leviathans and sermons in whirlwinds. Stories in which murderers are blinded on donkeys and become heroes. Stories with dens of lions and fiery furnaces and lone prophets laughing at kings and priests and demons. Stories with heads on platters. Stories with courage and crosses and redemption. Stories with resurrections.

And resurrections require deaths.

We do no one any favors when we pretend away darkness in the world. We’ve only neutered the need for grace. And we’ve neutered the glorious triumph on the other side of darkness. Yes, darkness should be mediated and even muted in art for children (and adults). At some point, the knowledge of evil can damage a reader or viewer.

But the relationship between good and evil in our stories should mirror the relationship between good and evil in God’s stories. “ -N. D. Wilson (What We Should Tell Our Children)

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