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The Simple, Yet All-Powerful Phrase, “Once Upon A Time”

Is there a more powerful set of words than, “Once upon a time,” or, “In a land far, far away”, or maybe, “On a dark and stormy night?” What are all these? Each of them excite and trigger in each of us the anticipation of a coming story. The thrill of hearing a new story causes next to everyone to stop what they are doing and pause with excitement in hopes of a surprise, of a wonderful bit of knowledge, or detail about life we did not know about before being shared.

I have, like most story tellers and authors, watched the eyes of, and attention of, both children and adults as they pause for an approaching story. The catch-22 is that anyone can utter the all-powerful beginning such as, “You will never believe what I saw today…” Proving of course that we can all be storytellers (I would say we all should be), but of course we have all witnessed how quickly the same children and adults move from rapt attention to boredom as we add just five more words to our story. We can lose people’s attention in as little as three seconds can’t we? Why is this? Well isn’t this the million dollar question for both author and publisher? Learning how to maintain the flow of a story once you have your reader’s attention is what we want to discover.

There is a lot going on with the simple phrase then of, “Once upon a time…” It is clear we all crave a good story. In fact, I love the old phrase, “What’s truer than the truth? The story, of course.” History, knowledge, love, all things ride the rails of story. We listen, or read a book, go to an author reading to be told about an adventure, to discover a tidbit of knowledge we did not know before. But, we have all had the experience of losing interest, of having our minds go blank and become bored. So, for invisible reasons story telling is really difficult.

We know we truly value story tellers though and it follows that we need publishers to find and share great stories. A publisher, after all, is someone who discovers good stories, is someone that allows readers to put their trust in. It is clear we are all addicted to good beginnings and helping fulfill this need is useful.

Author and publisher alike come to realize that it is the use of details, of inspiration, creativity, and passion that are what are needed. Elusive talents, I know. When you write ask yourself if you’re entertaining yourself, surprising yourself. Have you considered lots of view points, lots of angles?

In future articles I’ll consider the elements of getting past, “Once upon a time…” but for now isn’t good to know that people crave stories and that there is no end in sight to this craving. Until next time, write on!

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