Look around, listen, and you will find that story is everywhere – in conversation, in advertising, in business, religion, therapy, arts.
Story is all around. It’s dazzling. It is powerful. Story is not simply an enduring tradition, it is at the heart of contemporary communication.
Interpretation obviously needs a firm grasp of something this potent in human communication.
So how, in a nutshell, can focusing on storytelling skills help an interpreter – especially one who is writing panels, podcasts or leaflets? Mainly I think by helping us avoid that plague of interpretation – dullness. Dull stuff is dull stuff whether it is in sound or vision, on the page or on the screen. Story, like good interpretation, is about not being dull.
In this talk I can’t detail all the things I have learned about how understanding story can help our work as interpreters. You need to come to a workshop. But here are the most important ones.
- Characters – all stories have characters who draw the listeners or readers in. Similarly people stories, well told, are gold dust for interpreters.
- Drama and action – stuff happens in stories, and so it should in interpretation.
- A cracking beginning – I have become more and more convinced of the importance of this in recent years
- A good ending – it’s always there in stories, but regularly missing from interpretive experiences
- Well-chosen words – like storytellers, interpreters have to be wordsmiths. Crafting the words carefully matters, whether they are written or spoken.
- Pace and tone – interpreters don’t talk about this that much. We should.
- Emotion, suspense, mystery and revelation – vital ingredients that we should use to bring our interpretation to life and make it stick in people’s hearts and minds
- Provocation – Great stories set people thinking, leaving them with a dilemma, a question, or a debate.
Many, maybe most, of you will recognize these as fundamentals of our craft. If you are less experienced, find out about them (for instance at one of my workshops!).
My title was ‘Bridging experience: story as a vehicle for interpreters’. You can read the first part here.