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Does story telling have to have an objective? Does story telling need be objective?

I told a short story during a club meeting of Toastmasters International. The narrative was banal. I reminisced of two episodes which occurred in airports, where I needed to go the restroom.

With well over two thousands commercial flight segments in my air travel history, I walked inadvertently into a women’s restroom. I must have been tired, or in one case at the Charles De Gaulle airport I misread the sign. Probably expected to see a Women sign but alas in French it read Dames.

Inside I looked around and there were only closed stalls. I wondered, where are the urinals in Paris?

Then a jolt hit my mind – I’m in the wrong restroom. I felt scared, what if some gendarme lady will walk in and take some legal action against my act of trespassing?

I ran out for my life. I was scared and embarrassed.

How could it happen to me?

Yes. I was jet-lagged and tired after a transatlantic flight. But still there could be no excuse for my transgression. What excuse would I tell the sitting Magistrate if taken to court?

Some twenty years later the same happened to me in an airport on American soil.

Relax. During both episodes no female was in the restroom. I was twice lucky.


Now years later I tell my story to entertain my fellow club members.

The pay-off was returned to me with giggles and chuckles.

As the protocol calls in this ninety-four years old public speaking organization, a club member “evaluated” my “speech”. Evaluation in the jargon of Toastmasters means – critiquing the content and delivery of the story.

The gist of the criticism was that my speech lacked an objective. I should have stated that this real life story had an objective - a purpose – and declare the objective ahead of time.

I was probably expected to state as an objective something like, “Make sure that you avoid the other sex bathrooms”. Or maybe, “For your personal safety and others, ensure that you walk into a same sex bathroom consistent with your congenital sex”.

I think that the Evaluator’s objective was to tell us that my story was purposeless. In that case I agree.

In the social circles of the self-improvement community you must have a goal.


I went home and started to think. I asked myself, do story telling have to have an objective?

The immediate reaction in my mind was - do Shakespeare’s works have an objective? If you know the answer, enlighten me.

Next, I asked myself what is the objective of the seven volumes of Harry Potter’s book stories?

The word “Objective” in the English language has two meanings. One meaning is impartiality. The second meaning is a goal.

Story telling is an old art that was practiced by ancient cavemen who sat around a bonfire and told stories that passed down generations to come. Nowadays storytelling is intended to entertain the listeners the same as the art of painting does to stir an emotion in the viewers.

Same applies to composing and playing music.

Most stories are told for entertainment sake. Rarely do stories have a moral to them.

William Shakespeare was a genius story teller of the English language. Yet he never left England. He wrote plays set in Italy like The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet. He wrote about the Roman Empire and Julius Caesar but those stories were all products of his fertile imagination. There was his queen Cleopatra, yet he never visited Egypt.

Get this – Shakespeare wrote and told stories to entertain his audience. Shakespeare’s objective was to earn a living from his dramatized stories played on stage. His objective was to earn money from the entertained the audience.

That was the unspoken objective but the objective truth about the great William Shakespeare.

What is the objective in the series of seven Harry Potter story books?

The three early volumes are two to three hundred pages long and the four last volumes are over six hundred pages each! That’s a lot of printed words, telling imagined stories.

So are there objectives or a message in the Harry Potter series.

Well, there is none. The stories are fascinating, hallucinating and written as a show of the wizardly literary talent of Joanne Rowling.

There were attempted guesses about the message or the “objective”. May be the books about love (Lily). Some critics say it’s about death (Voldemort).

R. K. Rowling said in her graceful commencement address to graduating 2008 class of Harvard students that she was “morally neutral” in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter has no message but has an unwritten objective – to create a billion dollars industry. Including print, merchandise, and movies… And indeed it did.

By now you may start to agree that storytelling is an art that may not include an objective. The art of storytelling - is the objective.


Not yet satisfied? Have you heard the story about the Little Red Capp Girl by the Brothers Grimm? Does this story have an objective? Enlighten me.

Take the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Read it and come up with your own concluded objective or message. If you can. Lots of social and psychological literature was written over this story. Including some oedipal interpretations…

Miguel De Cervantes published in 1605 a novel titled Don Quixote. It is one of the greatest literary works of Western literature. It was translated to most world languages. The story is about a man who lost his mind to become a chivalrous knight.

Among other things he went fighting the blades of a wind mill that he envisioned as the enemy.

Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from Don Quixote, and the word "tilt" in this context refers to jousting.

The phrase is sometimes used to describe either confrontation where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.

Literary critics never agreed if Don Quixote is a tragedy or a comedy. Miguel De Cervantes did not intend that his story’s objective is the enrichment of the Spanish language.


Storytelling is an art as painting is an art.

Painters are glad to tell their viewers that their artwork is intended to elicit an emotional reaction from the viewer. What is the objective in Jackson Pollock’s paintings of colorful blots and stains?

Minority of artwork was created to have an intentional objective to carry a message.

It’s hard to say that Pablo Picasso’s paintings and sculpture art have an objective. His artwork reflected mostly his view of life as expressed in the styles of surrealism and cubism.

Yet, when Picasso intended to – he had an objective.

The great example of art with an objective is his “Guernica” painting. It was created as a humanistic political protest against Spain’s fascist regime during the Spanish Civil War.

While Guernica had an objective (purpose), it was not objective (not impartial). Guernica is a subjective work of art that expressed an objective message.


Johann Sebastian Bach composed for and virtuously played the organ in the beginning of the 18th century. J. S. Bach wrote over one thousand pieces of music. He fathered twenty children of whom ten lived and grew to adulthood.

J. S. Bach composed and played his genius music to entertain his employers – the princes of and dukes. Providing food for his family was the objective of his musical work. His divine music was a by-product that we still enjoy today.


The Holy Bible has stories. It has many stories. Majority of the stories are told in conjunction with lesson learned intent. Yet some salacious stories are just that and with no identifiable objective. For example is the incest of Lot, or the adultery of King David.

I studied the stories of the bible. I was interested with how the Biblical stories demonstrate the Law of Attraction in life and action. The Law of Attraction as we know it was not widely known in Biblical times. Only talented leaders and gifted wise men knew The Secret.

I published two books on the subject.


My take home message is - story telling is an art and not a scientific report.

Every listener to a story has to keenly observe, on their own, for a possible objective, whether implied or explicit.



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