Why you should fight the urge to ‘gussy up’ stories
There are good reasons why stories that are over-worked or over-told can underwhelm.
To quote one of my all-time favourite tips on better storytelling by Mark Twain:
“The more you explain it, the less I understand it”
I couldn’t agree more. If you choose to share your stories in a simple but evocative way ahead adding myriad explanations or detail, you’ll find it’s easier to create a more entertaining, engaging and immersive experience for your audience.
And here’s a lovely story my neighbour Breige shared with me last weekend to illustrate this point…Where you can easily see why no ‘gussying up’ was needed to make it a better story:
As a newly married wife, Breige decided she’d learn to play bridge – since her husband Michael loved the game and she didn’t fancy being a bridge widow!
And after a solitary lesson from a local retired teacher who gave pointers to novice bridge players, she felt confident enough to sign up for her first night of bridge the next Tuesday at a local parish community centre – where beginners were allegedly welcome!
However, her confidence was short-lived when she didn’t win a single hand all night…BUT, her evening wasn’t a complete dud as she did manage to win a fancy Waterford Crystal vase in a ‘picky-out’ raffle.
And when her husband asked her where she got her gorgeous prize the next day, she said “Oh, at bridge last night!”, but she failed to mention it categorically wasn’t from any of her card-playing.
Well, Michael was very impressed!
And the next time he came across her bridge coach he made a beeline over to him and said:
“Congratulations, you’re some bridge teacher. You did a great with my missus last week.”
Of course, the man was delighted to hear he was held in such high regard until Michael continued:
“And I can’t get over how she came home with such a big prize on her first night playing bridge. Remarkable!”
This both surprised and gave the man a fit of the giggles.
“Em, I don’t know how to break this to you. But, I was at the bridge night last Tuesday and I’m sorry to report ‘I don’t think your poor Breige won a sausage from her card playing…But she did win a huge vase in the raffle!
Of course, Michael thought this was hilarious and never let Breige forget how she won her vase. And he loved, with a twinkle in his eye, to point to it when visitors would come to their house and say:
“Isn’t that a lovely vase? I’m very proud of my Breige. She won that at bridge!”
And Breige, who never quite mastered the game, would just throw her eyes up to heaven and laugh before confessing that it’s dangerous to ‘finesse’ the truth.
Don’t you love that story? I did. And I shared it today because it’s proof positive of how real stories that are wonderfully simple and human can trump ‘finessing’ every time.
Photo credit: JiahuiH
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