A Good Story


Everyone loves a good story. For some, it’s adventure. For others, it’s romance. For still others, it’s comedy.

Telling stories is also part of everyday conversation. When you describe having coffee and cake you at your neighbor’s house last Thursday, you are telling a story.

The Purpose of Stories

The main purpose of stories is entertainment…but it goes beyond that.

Timeless stories contain underlying themes. They raise moral, philosophical, psychological, and social issues. They are a source of information and ideas. They expand people’s imagination, curiosity, and creativity.

In effect, stories help shape people’s lives.

Elements of Stories

All stories contain at least some imaginary elements. This is obvious in such tales as Ali Baba and Rip Van Winkle.

The more mundane aspects of fiction however, feature believable characters and settings.

Many plots are based on actual events or real people. The US Civil War (1861-1865) served as the backdrop for Gone with the Wind (1936), a best-selling novel by Margaret Mitchell.


Storytelling is as old as humanity itself.

As prehistoric people wondered about, they created myths to describe the nature of the world around them and human existence. They bestowed extraordinary qualities to their gods and heroes.


Early societies often interwove storytelling with singing, chants, music, dance, and artwork. These were passed down from generation to generation.

The development of writing about 5,500 years ago added a new facet to the world of stories. By 3000 B.C., fictional tales were been written down in Egypt.

The Middle Ages

Along with royalty and peasants, medieval stories featured mystical beings: wizards and dragons that perform magic and other supernatural feats.

During this period traveling minstrels would entertain people in market places and palace courts. They told stories, recited poetry and played music.

They also exchanged news.


With the invention of movable-type printing in the mid-1400s, inexpensive pamphlets helped popularize as well as preserve many oral stories.

Since the mid-1700’s, the main forms of fiction have been the novel and the short story.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

The 1800’s saw scholarly interest in folk literature. In 1812 and 1815, the brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm published their collections of German folktales.

The brothers had gathered these stories from peasants as a way of preserving their heritage.

Across the Globe

Since then, generations of schoolchildren have grown up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

And yet variations of many of these stories appear throughout the world (scholars have identified more than 1,000 versions of “Cinderella” in places as diverse as China, France, India, Russia, and Turkey).

Radio, Television, Internet

The development of radio and television in the 1900’s added yet another dimension to the story.

Today despite the high-tech world of satellite TV, DVDs, and the internet, people still enjoy stories.

Some say that all electronic gadgetry is merely to better share more stories in wider formats.

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1. Stories only involve books. True or false?

2. Why do people tell and listen to stories?

3. Can stories shape people’s lives and society?

4. Explain how some of the earliest stories develop.

5. Ancient stories are more fantastic than those of today. Do you agree?

6. Do most stories involve similar story lines or themes? Give examples.

7. What were some differences between pre- and post-mass publication societies?

8. All stories are entirely unique to different regions and ethnic groups. Yes or no?

9. Do you think that most people use the internet, mostly to tell, watch, and listen to stories in one format or another?

A. Did your parents, teachers, and older siblings often tell you stories?

B. What were your favorite childhood stories?

C. Have you heard of the Hare and the Tortoise? Give examples of the moral of this story from real life.

D. Do most of fairy and folk tales in your country follow a certain pattern? If yes, what are they? Do you have a version of Cinderella?

E. Do (Did) you like to hear and read legends and myths from your culture?

F. My friends and I always exchange stories. True or false? If true, what kind?

G. Have music and music videos overtaken stories in terms of popularity?

H. Have your written your own short stories or books?

I. I would like to become a full time or professional writer. Yes or no?



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