What Is a Story, Anyway?

I am still processing my NerdCampMI, I am also looking forward to Dearborn Moodle Moot and this confluence between the paper and the digital versions of communication brings many questions to my mind.  First of all, I saw an amazing presentation on graphic novels by Heather and Beth, which turned me on to Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli, with illustrations by David Wiesner. How I missed this book, I do not know! Fish Girl

David Wiesner is one of the best visual storytellers alive and Donna Jo Napoli is the author of many great books for all ages, including Albert, which I use regularly in instruction.

The other piece of storytelling that is on my mind right now is Minecraft Story Mode.

minecraft story mode

This amazing hybrid is part Choose Your Own Adventure book and part video game. It has a plot, a problem, and a solution, rising and falling action and an interesting cast of characters. The reader or watcher or player, or whatever you call the person interacting with the story must make choices and perform certain actions which move the story forward in different ways. You can even die a video game death if you are not paying attention, forcing you to start that scene over again.

Although neither of these things looks exactly like a novel, I insist that they are also literature in their own right. Graphic novels have now won some acceptance as literature and certainly, classics such as Maus have done much to prove that a graphic novel can tell a powerful story. I believe that digital forms like Minecraft Story Mode will be the next powerful literary platform. Games like Darfur Is Dying have already proved that immersive digital stories can communicate a powerful message. Can we ignore this popular and powerful genre as literature?

So I return to my original question. What is a story anyway? Is it about format and page length and tradition, or is it about the power of an immersive narrative and characters that move your emotions? A story, to me, is wherever you find something that moves your soul.

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