The Power of a Story

Powerful Photograph

Photos can be poignant, powerful, or precious glimpses of a moment in time. Each one tells a story. Usually, the story is more than the caption you might see. Far more. If you were to browse through “75 Iconic Photos,” you will agree. The picture above is only one of them.

What observations do you make as you see a photo? What questions rise? Do you see fear on the woman’s face? I see joy mingled with something else. Is it hope perhaps? And what about the soldier whose face we see most clearly? Wonder? Respect?

Some photos strike us with a sense of irony, or even indignation and ire. Sometimes a photo does nothing more than make you smile. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

In creative writing, we can try to make our stories like a picture. A powerful and poignant picture that brings you a sense of wonder, makes you smile, or brings tears to your eyes. A snapshot that invokes a feeling, exposes your emotions or opinions, or opens your eyes to something you have never seen that way before.

This is the power of a photograph, and it is the power of a story.

A short story is also like a scene rather than the whole movie playing. Think about some of your favorite scenes in movies. Scenes that caught the essence of a movie somehow.

The character William Wallace shouting “Freedom” at the end of the movie Braveheart. If you did not see the rest of the movie, you would know that he was a man willing to die for what he believed, and you would probably have a feeling of satisfaction, as well as a wish that you somehow knew more about the story, more about that person.

Or Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, standing on the desk and telling his students about seeing life from a different perspective. He urges the class, “We must constantly look at things in a different way.” That scene catches the essence of the movie. You see a teacher fully engaged with his students, urging them to step out of the confines of what they see and know wand embrace life. You see the faces of students responding, with wonder, disbelief, desire. You know, intrinsically, that he will change their lives.

That is the power of a scene. The power of a story. Or it can be, if we know how to write it right.

[Reposted from Clovis Adult Education Blog]