The Fine Art of Tightrope Walking

Tightrope walking is a bit like juggling ten different things in mid-air at the same time. People juggle numerous things everyday in some form or another.

So…what is this blog all about you might be wondering…a few pointers on how to  juggle five coloured balls or how to walk a tightrope…or something else entirely?

In  a way, it is both…in a manner of speaking.

That’s because most of things we do involves either one or the other. So…here is a clue.

If you’ve seen any of the videos on the making of a movie like The Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit you will realise what a juggling act it is to create anything at all, let alone something as phenomenal as that.

But creative people like Peter Jackson and millions of others worldwide…do it all of the time.

Movies are just one of the many ways in which we tell stories…in the 21st century.

Books have been doing it for centuries…but as a storytelling medium, they have a lot of fierce competition and are slowly being elbowed out by the internet.

For over a century, filmmakers have been finding ever more amazing ways of delivering a story in visual form. Music and song has been doing it for a lot longer than that and so has modern dance…and they all have one thing in common…they are all forms of storytelling.

You knew that…didn’t you?

Storytelling has been with us in one form or another since the beginning of time and the interest has never waned, but the way in which they are packaged and presented is always changing….thanks to creative people who are always pushing the envelope just to see how far they can go.

That’s reassuring news…but how did it all start? Where did storytelling come from?

The Oral Tradition

The oldest form of storytelling was word of mouth, an idea which is known as the oral tradition and thankfully, it still exists today. Way back in the mists of time, people would sit around a campfire and listen as a master story teller transported them into a world of gods and demons as a means of explaining the great mysteries of the universe, the meaning of life or just about anything at all.

The art of telling a story, of bringing it to life requires some level of skill, a little bit of imagination of course and more than a little confidence, but it is also useful to know a few tricks of the trade.

Tricks of the Trade

Creating any form of art is a juggling act and to get it right involves walking a fine line between so many different variables.

A storyteller must draw his audience in from the very beginning with an engaging idea, set the scene, introduce the hero and/or the villain…establish the central problem, add a little drama on the way, but most importantly, it is essential not to lose the audience before it has even started. That can wreck everything.

A good story must wriggle its way through a knotty problem, and it must work its way to some highpoint or pinnacle; however, there is no rule that says it has to be resolved by conflict. The hero does not have to die or suffer until the end of time…but the villain should get their just deserts in one way or another…and if you are in charge of this operation…make sure s/he is get what they deserve.

The art of storytelling is a waste of time if the audience is not satisfied with what you have created…not just with the progression of the story…but also how it ends.

The old style of storytelling is not nearly as popular as it was 5-6ooo years ago, but parents and teachers are some of those who do carry on this ancient tradition. Little children are an attentive audience and they will happily sit around, wide-eyed with expectation listening to a story before they go to bed or take an afternoon nap.

The Goddess Emphora

That is a roundabout way of introducing you to just one of the classic characters from my first series of books. Over the coming year, I will showcase many more, but I will start with one who plays a prominent part in the lives of Addric and Dheago.

(If you are new to this website, Addric and Dheago are the heroes of my stories…or to put it another way…they are the stars of the show.)

One particular character who has always had a part to play in some form or another is known simply as Emphora.

Emphora is a woman of insight and power…but beyond anything else she is a goddess with a heart of gold, a very human face and a sense of humour.

The Backstory

One of the tricks of the trade when delivering a story is to fill it in with a little bit of backstory at various intervals.

So…before I introduce a master storyteller, I will fill you in on a little of the backstory to the Citadel of Fire…but not much.

In this chapter from my third book, Emphora and a band of over two hundred intrepid adventurers have crossed over from one realm into another in an effort to track down a threat to their world.

One of the many children in their care, a little boy called Barclay barely survived an attack on his life by a creature known as the Volkori. At this point in the story, they are under the impression that the Volkori are the enemy as they have spent centuries crucifying the most innocent of all creatures in their world, the New Soul Children…for reasons they do not yet understand .

Also known as dark riders, the Volkori would have sucked the life-force from Barclay’s body if it had not been for the immediate response of a band of warrior angels.

As a consequence, they have no choice but to continue their journey and venture deep into an enchanted forest and get as far away from the Volkori as possible.

As their caravan travels onwards, Emphora realises that they are not alone. When she just happens to mention that they have company, Slinky, the ever curious father of Barclay just happens to overhear what she says and wants to know what she means.

Emphora is a master of many things and storytelling is just one of them.  She uses this as an opportunity to keep their minds off the problem at hand…and in the process, Slinky discovers that the world in which he lives is much more interesting than he ever realised.

This chapter is called…

A Tonic For Troubled Times

‘This is a potentially dangerous situation,’ Odin said as he stood on the tailgate of a wagon. ‘The dark riders can obviously materialise wherever they want. We have to be on the alert at all times and keep our eyes posted on any change in the atmosphere.’

‘Addric and Dheago, he said. ‘Would you take the lead with Sabu.’

‘Yes, ‘we will,’ he said.

‘Starion, I would like you to organise your warriors and position them between each of the wagons? The children will travel in one covered wagon. Those on foot or on horseback are to follow each of the other wagons.’

‘Wimple, could the Krugwah attend to the aerial surveillance. Is that a reasonable request?’

‘We can be doing that,’ Wimple replied.

‘No naughty dark riders will get the better of us,’ said little Boo-tee. We bery powerful, you know.’

‘I know that all too well, my friend and if you do see any of those naughty dark riders, do what the Krugwah do best.’

‘We can be doing that,’ said Eenah, her usually severe face bristling with a newfound loathing for the dark riders.

‘Hector, you have weapons, I presume.’

‘We do sir, one each, to be precise, a compact hand-held device capable of unleashing a concentration of electro-magnetic firepower, but compared to what you just did, I don’t think they will do much more than stun the dark riders.’

‘That’s better than nothing,’ said Odin. ‘What would you prefer to do, take the front or the rear?’

‘Perhaps it would be advisable if we spread ourselves out along the ranks.’

‘Better still,’ said Odin.

‘Demetra and Felicity, if ever we needed masters of the arcane arts, it is now.’

‘I am at your service sire,’ said Demetra.

‘As am I,’ said Felicity, what is it that you want us to do?’

‘You have the sight, and in a place such as this, it will be one of our most valuable assets. Perhaps it would be advisable if you walked close to the covered wagons along with the rest of us.’

‘Of course,’ they said.

It was impossible to ignore the fact that they were wandering through an ancient forest, one in which everything had a noticeable odd bluish tinge, an effect which gave it a distinctly eerie quality.

Odin was still concerned by their vulnerability. This would be the perfect place for a Volkori ambush, surrounded as they were by thousands of giant trees as old as time itself. It would be almost impossible to tell if a dark rider was nearby or if it just was the wind rustling through the leaves. Nevertheless, everyone was on a constant state of alert.

The ever vigilant Krugwah flew one way and then another, monitoring the environment as only they could do, but to those who could see even more, it was apparent that this was something more than just a forest.

‘We have company,’ Lezula whispered to Emphora.

‘We do indeed,’ she said, ‘and they have been keeping a close eye on us ever since we got here.’

‘What manner of creatures are you talking about?’ Slinky asked. He had obviously take Odin’s instructions to heart and was also on a permanent state of alert.

‘Elementals, nature spirits,’ Emphora replied, ‘creatures that inhabit an enchanted forest.

‘Tell me about elementals,’ he said. What are they?’

‘They have existed since the beginning of time,’ Emphora said. ‘They are the caretakers of nature and come in many shapes and forms. ‘

‘The great spirits of nature are called devas and even though they are not visible to the naked eye as are others such as elves or fairies, they are there nonetheless and are a most wonderful sight to behold.’

Devas are powerful in their own right Slinky, as you would need to be when your domain is a forest or a river.’

‘In a place like this, they attend to the details of an evolving world, making sure that everything is in its place and that all living things, whether they are fledgling plants or field mice get the nutrients they need to survive.’

‘Nature spirits inhabit every living thing,’ Emphora said, ‘including the very ground we walk on Slinky and that includes every rock and stone and especially the water.’

‘What being these fairy creatures that you mentioned Emphora and what being their job?’

It was obvious that he had been listening attentively to every word that Emphora had said.

‘Well, fairies are very small, no bigger than the fingers on your hand,’ she said. ‘They have gossamer wings and fly from one flower to another, just like bees. Some glisten like fireflies at night and if they are good fairies, they can be most helpful to a traveller that has lost their way.’

‘And then of course, there are sprites as well,’ she said in such a way that Slinky almost leapt off the ground.

‘Sprites,’ he cried, ‘they sound like mean little critters.’

‘They can be, sometimes,’ said Emphora, ‘but not always. They have a bit of a reputation in some places, but nevertheless, they do have a part to play as well.’

‘And elves you said, what being they?’

‘Elves, now that is a good question Slinky. I haven’t had much to do with elves, but I have heard that they are quite industrious little characters and have a reputation for offering a helping hand to those who need it the most.’

‘An enchanted forest,’ said a pensive Slinky, ‘I used to think a forest was just a forest and a field of vegetables was just a field of vegetables and if it hadn’t been for Felicity, I would never have believed it could be otherwise.’

‘And then of course,’ Emphora added in a tone designed specifically to impress, ‘there are other creatures yet again, like those grand and imperious centaurs hiding all around us.’

‘Where,’ Slinky cried, ‘where are they?’

‘If I am not incorrect,’ said Emphora, ‘there is one behind every tree that we have passed so far.’

‘And what being them?’ Slinky wondered.

‘Now, they are very unique creatures indeed,’ said Emphora. ‘Centaurs are half man and half horse.’

‘Oh, you be making that up,’ said Slinky, ‘nobody could be half and half of two different things.’

‘Centaurs are,’ Emphora said, ‘and in some worlds that I have visited, I have seen equally curious creatures, some of which live in the depths of a real ocean, in a world of total darkness.’

‘One that I do know of is a very strange looking fish which has a face like a dog and so that it can see where it’s going, it has a blazing lantern hanging from a hook attached to the top of its head.’

‘Now, you are pulling my leg,’ said Slinky.

‘Not at all,’ said Emphora. ‘Why, in those very same oceans, there are fish as big as a house and it is said, they even communicate with the cosmos.’

‘Why being that?’ said Slinky, ‘if it be true.’

‘Oh, it is my friend. They are called whales and they have a most unusual style of singing. Can you still hear that beautiful music?’

‘Yes Mam, I can,’ he said, ‘it be sending tingles up my spine every single minute. A most extraordinary sound it is. Touches me to my soul, it does.’

‘Well, the music of whales is very much like that Slinky. Some people have a theory that they transmit essential information to the universe for one reason or another.’

‘Now, isn’t that amazing,’ Emphora said curiously.

‘It is indeed,’ replied an ever more curious Slinky, ‘but is there anything else that I should be knowing about Emphora?’

‘If you look up there in the sky,’ she said, ‘you will see a horse of a very different kind Slinky. If you are lucky enough to spot one, it should be white and have enormous wings.’

‘No, Emphora, you not saying that there is such a thing as a flying horse, are you?’

‘Yes Slinky, I am and if you ever have the opportunity to encounter one, you will be amazed by its magnificence, but if you are clever enough to catch one, they have to take you for a ride, but it is not always easy to do that.’

‘Well, I never,’ he said, ‘in all my living days. Flying horses! What next you will be telling me about.’

‘Well, there are quite a lot of very strange looking animals in this universe of ours, but in one world I have visited, there are thousands of them.’

‘Take a giraffe, for example.’

‘A giraffe,’ Slinky exclaimed. ‘You may not be believing this Emphora, but I be knowing what a giraffe is. I have seen one for myself.’

‘So then,’ she said, ‘why shouldn’t there be creatures such as unicorns, centaurs, gryphons and flying horses?’

‘I give up,’ said Slinky. ‘You win. I be knowing you be telling me the truth.’

‘But,’ he added, ‘what is this gryphon thing?’

‘Oh, it is a very noble creature indeed,’ said Emphora.

‘I used to have two of my own once. They have the head of a bird, the body of a lion and wings like an eagle.’

‘I not be knowing what any of them animals are at all,’ said Slinky.

Slinky was so astounded by Emphora’s stories that he did not realise that he was not the only one glued to every word she said. Over a dozen New Soul Children in the rear of the covered wagon were enraptured by her stories.

‘And, do you know anything about the New Soul Children?’ Pluto asked.

‘I do, my little darling.’

‘Oh,’ he said, somewhat surprised. ‘Tell us please, I’d love to hear a story about us.’

Those within earshot of the covered wagon were equally amazed to hear that Emphora knew so many things about the mysterious creatures which inhabited the secret world of an enchanted forest.

As their cavalcade wound its way through an ancient wilderness, listening to Emphora’s stories was the perfect way to keep their minds off of their problems. Emphora knew this instinctively. From the moment she started, she saw it as a perfect opportunity. She was a master of many forms of magic and particularly adept at disseminating a sizeable dose of one of the oldest of all tonics. As she knew from her vast experience, stories have a magic of their own.

‘Now, there are several items of interest that I know about the New Soul Children,’ she said. ‘Some believe that they are nature spirits and that is possibly true.’

‘Nature spirits come in many forms, like the adorable Krugwah for example, but the New Soul Children, who are equally adorable in every way, have a very special place in the scheme of things.’

‘We do!’ said Queroladis.’

‘Indeed,’ said Emphora. ‘Of all of the creatures which inhabit this universe of ours, you have one of the most special jobs of all.’

‘Tell us more,’ said Sipitarcha.

‘At night, when people are fast asleep,’ Emphora said, ‘they dream. Secretly, they dream of the good things which might happen, but sometimes they need a little helping hand to make them come true.’

‘In dreams, people see familiar faces, friends and family and sometimes strangers, but most dreams are complicated for one reason or another, but during that time, they have the opportunity to be whatever they want. Most of the strangers they encounter in their dreams are really New Soul Children in disguise.’

‘Really,’ said Barclay.

‘Yes,’ said Emphora. ‘I once heard a story of a little boy who dreamed that one day he would wear a crown, that he would be king for a day.’

‘Little did he know that the stranger in his dream was actually one of those New Soul Children,’ she said. ‘That stranger had taken him on a journey and revealed one of his greatest desires. He had an opportunity during that dream to let this little boy know that one day, this would happen to him.’

‘I wonder who she’s talking about,’ said Conrad.

‘I wonder too?’ said Emphora, as she winked at Barclay. ‘It is probably someone you even know.’

‘We never get to meet those people, really,’ said Pluto, ‘never.’

‘Well, I know it’s against the rules to tell you this,’ said Emphora, ‘but that little boy is sitting right beside you.’

‘Barclay!’ they gasped.

‘Yes,’ said Emphora. ‘Isn’t that true, Barclay.’

‘Every word of it,’ he replied.

‘I could tell you all about that beautiful day if you wish,’ he said.

‘Oh, please do,’ said Pluto, ‘start at the beginning.’

Over the next few hours, more than a few people shed a passing tear. Their journey passed without incident, but once or twice, Barclay felt a slight twinge in his right shoulder. The New Soul Children instinctively sensed his pain and rather than miss out on a moment of his wonderful story, they would very gently place their hands on the back of his neck.

They knew that Barclay was indeed a very special friend and they were not about to lose him, not to those nasty Volkori creatures. They had lost too many of their special friends over the years and when they saw what the Volkori almost did to him, they could barely believe their eyes.

‘That was a beautiful story,’ said Pluto. ‘Do you think you could tell it again?’

‘Okay,’ said a now very weary Barclay, ‘but, just once more.’

‘Now, one night…’

 

 

Not All Stories Are Equal

Storytelling is an interesting form of communication and getting it right really is like walking a tightrope. An engaging story must have all of the necessary ingredients so that the audience won’t lose interest after the first 10 minutes.

A blog is a bit like a short story and can be about anything at all, passing thoughts, a snapshot in time, but they don’t necessarily have to follow the rules.

A Tonic for Troubled Times is just one of many chapters in the Citadel of Fire and even though it is an essential part of the overall story; as a blog…it has to stand alone.

But to present it on the internet…you have to make a few adjustments. For one thing…it must have an interesting introduction so that your reader won’t lose interest before they get started.

So…stay tuned and check in every now and then and I will introduce yet another extraordinary character. Some are odd and strange, one or two are downright evil. An interesting character is just one of the essential ingredients of a good story, but they should have a few secrets and should not be as the reader expects them to be. A good story should have quite a few interesting twists and turns, especially of the unexpected variety.

The art of storytelling is alive and well on the internet…social media and blogs have seen to that. People all over the world are doing it in one form or another and the best part is…that there is someone out there that you have never met and probably never will…who just happens to like your work.

Now that has to be a bonus…

Doesn’t it…

If you want to find out more about my books…

Check out

An Interview with the Author

or

just go to

the Bookshop

both of which are on this website…

Thank you to Jean-Luc Bozzoli for the beautiful painting which accompanies this post.

Mercasa

Mercasa

Even more like this can be found at his website….

http://www.eyewithin.com

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About vgilvarry

My first love was art, a career I pursued for a long time until the well dried up. After that, I headed off in a very different direction when I discovered writing. I have always been a freewheeling agent when it comes to creativity and when I get an idea in my head which is usually three o’clock in the morning, I just peck away at it just to see what will happen. After a while, the magic kicks in and the story tells me where it wants to go.

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