The Matriarchal Story As Koh Mask: Shading characters to give them depth

As someone who writes fiction and nonfiction, I am not one of those people who believe that storytelling requires training. It is absolutely innate. Toddlers tell stories. We are wired to understand storytelling.

What requires training is storyselling. Manipulating facts to spin a narrative to make you sound perfect and anyone who disagrees with you as always evil takes gumption, arrogance, and having to remember a lot of stupid lies that make no sense. Yes, it is a waste of life activity. Yes, you are ultimately a dweeb and moron if you do it, even if you have a medical degree. Yes, no one who matters cares for your propaganda or believes it, and the only people falling for it are people as clueless as you.

Let’s forget about strategic cheerleading and slandering as a storytelling device.

Let’s talk about the fun of being a storyteller.

You are a creator and your creation is figments. They are real. I always said atheists never got to Piaget’s Stage Four of cognitive development. God exists. He may be a figment of our collective imagination, or we may be figments in His imagination. Or maybe both.

But there is a great story in there.

In fact, there are infinite stories in there alone.

We can have countless riveting stories about God as a creator who is also created by His creations.

Let alone all the other infinite things we can eternally write stories about.

As a storyteller, everything exists. Your world is limited only by your imagination and timidity.

In fact, you can write one story. Just one. You can write one story, but shade it in such a way, that you have infinite stories in that single one.

How?

It is simple if you are a Matriarchal Storyteller.

The Matriarchal is all about weaving threads. It is creating One from Infinity. A single story can take infinite angles, just as you can glean infinite wisdom from observing a single rock. That is no small feat, but with Matriarchal Storytelling, it is child’s play.

In Japanese theatre, wooden masks can seem to change expression by altering the lighting alone. Light is but a single entity, and the mask is a static and unchanging object, but used together, a single mask can have multiple expressions.

The Matriarchal Storyteller understands this enigmatic relationship. A single story can be read multiple ways in order to create multiple stories. The most important way is by letting go of the traditional single hero compulsion. Having one hero who is well-developed at the expense of the supporting cast means the shading is more limited. By having a strong cast with interlocking plots allows the storyteller to add shading to the story. Focus on one character or plot and you have a romance story. Focus on another and you have a mystery.

I have written many stories under the Dangerous Woman banner and each is a Koh mask of its own. I have series with one protagonist and supporting characters who happen to be protagonists in other stories. Throwaway remarks in one story prove to be vital plot points in another, but only if they are read together. Meanings completely alter and the reader can read the stories again, getting a completely different story because the focus has shifted, just a shifting light on a Koh mask alters its meaning. The light doesn’t change its essence. The mask doesn’t change its shape. What changes is the location the light shines and a tiny change translates to a world of changes.

Matriarchal Storytelling is an exciting form of the craft: it gives authors enormous leeway in how they craft their works. It is a more realistic form of telling stories as in the real world, we are heroes in our own lives and supporting characters in the lives of others. The pecking order of characters is abolished as a more egalitarian approach is embraced.

Matriarchal Storytelling is in tune with our natural rhythms, making the process of storytelling simpler. We write from our hearts. We make connections with characters as stories become interconnected. It is the most primal way of telling stories, but also the most gratifying: each figment is a seed we plant, and the true joy comes when characters begin to take root, grow, and then ultimately blossom as new stories emerge: even from the old.