How not to tell a story…

This is Beowulf…

It’s an Old English epic poem that consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

It tells the tale of Beowulf a Scandinavian hero who crosses the sea to Denmark and battles the evil monster Grendel and Grendel’s mother. It paints a vivid picture of a world of heroes, monsters, mead halls, and kings. It is considered a classic of ancient literature.

This is the Iliad.

It’s a Greek epic poem by Homer that recounts the Trojan war. It’s a long poem that describes a world of men and gods and the politics, treachery, and conflicts of both. Portraying a brutal world where honor and valor are held dear and life is relatively cheap.

This is the Lord of the Rings…

It’s a book trilogy that contains (in my edition) about 1400 pages of descriptive detail about a fantasy world of elves, orcs, dwarves, men, and hobbits coming together to battle an evil demon and destroy his source of power.  It delves into details about language, lineage, politics, past wars, descendants, and contains a ton of appendices with even more of that stuff, but mostly it works because it’s job is to convince you that these characters were real once upon a time.

You are not Tolkien and you are not writing a masterpiece of fiction. And you are not Homer or a Scandinavian bard and this is not the time for a six hour recitation of the epic deeds of warriors and gods. Therefore when telling a story, it is best to summarize. Like this:

And not like this:

(Much later)

(Much, much later)

(The universe is experiencing heat death later…)


1 thought on “How not to tell a story…

  1. Pingback: Book Review | ‘Beowulf’ by Anonymous « Wordly Obsessions

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