Here on Literaritea, we make the distinction between Truth and truth. We also make a distinction between Story and story. As with Truth/truth, you might find it helpful to think of these as “Big S Story” and “Little S Story” or, simply, “Capital Story” and “Small Story” or something along those lines.
When we evaluate the literary merits of a given work, we are looking for the difference between these two versions of “Story.” What does that distinction look like?
- Story: a classic narrative that has the power to represent T/truth to people of all times and any places or cultures with unity, persuasiveness, conviction, and memorability. This means that the narrative not only has a good plot, but is crafted well and avoids trite-ness, unnecessary stereotypes and the like. Timeless themes are often found in folklore because one generation has deemed them important to pass onto the next. The greatest Story ever told on earth is the Incarnation of Christ and his Redemption of mankind as seen in Scripture. If Story does not accomplish its potential, it is due to a failure in adequate Reading–yes, we make a distinction between Reading and reading, but more on that another time.
- story: a narrative that fails to achieve classic value or status due to some inherent weakness in unity, persuasiveness, conviction, memorability or truth. Where story fails to realize its potential, the fault is likely to be in some aspect of the narrative, its meaning, or its truth. Even if Read with care and skill, even if it contains essential Truth, story still falls short in some way.
It is hard for us to find Story in works that don’t also communicate Truth, but they do exist. The following examples demonstrate Story and story, but, as with T/truth, there is a continuum and often a difference of opinion!
Story Examples (with or without Truth)
- Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials books.
- The Secret Life of Octavian Nothing
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Days with Frog and Toad
- Grandpa Green
- classic fairy tales
story Examples (with or without Truth)
- basal readers (poor children!)
- Disney knockoffs of classic fairy tales in book form (“movie versions”)