Telling a story can be a messy business, as evidenced by the floor of the studio as I try to work out a new storyboard for Kismet. I cut and glue, trace shapes onto a ground plan and try to visualize in my head all the different pieces and parts of this rather complex tale.
A writer who I find always has wise things to say about storytelling is Philip Pullman, the author of the series His Dark Materials. Pullman recently published a collection of his retellings of Grimm’s fairytales. In his introduction, he talks about various conventions and ideas of good storytelling and he ends with a personal superstition that I found delightful. He says:
‘I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy. These sprites are both old and young, male and female, sentimental and cynical, sceptical and credulous, and so on, and what’s more, they’re completely amoral…the story-sprites are willing to serve whoever is telling the tale. To the accusation that this is nonsense, that all you need to tell a story is a human imagination, I reply ‘Of course, and this is the way my imagination works.’
I hope that the story sprite in charge of the story of Kismet is kind to us over the next several months as we try to tell this story to the best of our ability!