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Read between the lines

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Telling stories > Campbell's Commandments > Read between the lines

Commandment | Discussion | See also

 

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Commandment

Read between the lines! Literalism kills; Imagination quickens.

Discussion

Meaning is not embedded inherently in words -- it comes out from the whole telling. It happens in life in the dynamics of relationships and the movement of time. The goal of the storyteller is to understand and propagate meaning.

Write and tell stories between the lines too. When you tell tales, you are painting meaning, not speaking words. Remember also that meaning does not come from what you say or how you say it -- you are just a vehicle, a facilitator -- meaning appears to the individual in the inference that each listener performs.

When you tell stories, a key choice is the space that you leave between lines, hinting but not detailing at what may be happening. This encourages your listeners to imagine possibilities rather than blindly accept simple truth. This happens in jazz, where musicians often omit notes so their audiences can fill in the gaps, and in doing so creating a richer experience for them.

 

'Read between the lines' is one of the 'Ten Commandments for Reading Myth' as defined by Joseph Campbell.

See also

Campbell, J. (1972). Myths to Live By, New York: Bantam Books

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