Since the publication in 1605 of the first modern novel, Don Quixote, a myriad of rules have been posed on how to construct the ideal story. As the playwright and novelist W. Somerset Maugham quipped, however, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are” (GoodReads, 2015). In the postmodern era, literary figures have questioned how storytelling as a literary form impacts literature and the general human consciousness.
Storytelling has been a part of our world since the beginning of recorded history. The Iliad, Jesus’ parables, diverse Native American legends, and countless other stories have been used to provide entertainment, teach morals, and preserve culture.
By examining the elements of storytelling, effects of storytelling on readers, and the appeal of storytelling in a postmodern context, we can begin to establish a philosophy of contemporary storytelling. It is worthwhile to note that storytelling is distinct from formal novel-writing which, despite its use of storytelling, has traditionally followed rules by which storytelling, in its most organic form, has not been bound.