The Importance of Stories

There are some who believe that reading fiction is a waste of time and that we should spend less time reading novels and short stories and more time reading non-fiction. Perhaps they have yet to realise how we can learn so much from stories – we learn about ourselves and others.

Over the centuries story-telling has always been an important part of our culture. Before the written word was accessed by the majority, the story-teller played an important part in people’s lives.

I’ve been following Jan Fortune’s posts and the most recent one was very much in tune with my current thoughts.

She writes on how stories can influence and change lives

‘The best stories don’t persuade, rather they expand our ability to think and feel. And this in turn is transformative. Stories are not instruction manuals or described as dictates or propaganda. They change our hearts and thinking so much more subtly and deeply.’


‘Stories are powerful. We don’t simply tell stories, we inhabit them. Since language began, we’ve been storytelling animals. Every time and culture has dominant stories that shape us, whether they are stories from religion, ideology or the market-place.’

From Homer to the present day story-tellers, we have so much to learn. By reading more we learn more about how to understand other people, different situations and we can reflect on how we would react in similar circumstances. We may find similarities with our own lives, compare how we dealt with things in the past and our lives now, with how the story develops.

In order to progress as writers it’s vitally important to continue reading. We should be reading as much as possible from the classics to those modern day novels which are already rapidly becoming classics.

The latest book to have captured my attention and provoked a great deal of thought is The Cave by Saramago translated from the Portuguese by Maragret Jull Costa. I have yet to mine the rest of Saramago’s  seam of gold, but he is an author that I know will surely influence my thoughts from now on.





Reading a post by Jan Fortune this morning on Medium, I was encouraged by the following

Writing is powerful and we want it to be brilliant. No writer should be content with dull prose clogged with adjectives and exposition. No writer should be happy with didactic, sentimental poetry. No blogger should want to bore people. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it can’t be perfect.

Yesterday I reluctantly handed over a couple of pieces of writing to be read next Wednesday at the 20th anniversary celebration of Wigtown as Scotland’s National Booktown. I’d been asked to write a couple of poems and my end result was – in my opinion – not poetry but doggerel. Even after drafting and redrafting, I still wasn’t happy with the result. However, it was approved of so I let it go. I just have to accept that sometimes a deadline means that some things can’t be left indefinitely on the back burner for redrafting.