Success factors of Storytelling (Part 4): Let’s look at a story

Before we proceed further, let’s explore a story integrating the “why”, “what” and “how” elements. This is a continuation from the previous three posts. If you have not read them, please access them in the online links below:

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 1): Start with the “WHY”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 2): Exploring the “WHAT”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 3): Exploring the “HOW”

Let’s look at a story with the topic of “tolerance”:


“What do you think you should do when someone scolds you?”

“I will scold him back.”

“Haha! Will there be an end to this then?”


“What if you keep quiet?”

“He will keep scolding me.”

“No. He will stop.”

There are many lessons that Uncle Johnson taught me about life but the most memorable lessons are those of tolerance. Why do I find this lesson to be the most memorable? Because my understanding and practice of tolerance has enabled me to be successful in life, widening my social circle and advancing my career.

Uncle Johnson doesn’t teach. He shows me the lessons through real-life examples. He doesn’t shout back when shouted by others. He cleans up a water spill from a kettle after carelessly dropping it without any form of lamenting. He almost always smiles in front of hostile or aggressive parties and never raise his voice necessarily  during times when I think that he should be angry. I have learnt a great deal through Uncle Johnson’s daily dealings with others.

“Tolerance is a virtue”, Uncle Johnson used to tell me. “With tolerance, one can weather any types of storm in life. There are many people who feel that retaliation is the antidote to insults when tolerance is the prescription.”

When I was reprimanded by teachers in school, Uncle Johnson would advice me to simmer down and asked me what was the lesson that I could learn from this. When I told Uncle Johnson that there was no lesson to be learnt, he would keep quiet and soon after, told me that my anger and denial of the truth had kept me from recognising the lessons hidden within. He would give me a week to think things through and strange enough, I would almost always get the lesson by the deadline, of which he would request that I write down these learnt lessons in a journal.

Initially, I did not know that Uncle Johnson was managing my emotions. I just had the feeling that he was teaching me about lessons, lessons which I had to write in my journal. But then again, I guess I was justified in not knowing the truth since I was only twelve then.

It was only many years later, when I had lost contact with Uncle Johnson after I had left for further studies, that I realised this when I returned to my old home and found my long-lost journal under a stack of clothes in the basement of my house. Flipping through the last few pages of my journal, I came across a few paragraphs of text on the last few pages that I have not seen before:

Dear Kenny,

You are almost done in writing on this book, so I will like to give you a last advice to serve as a closure to all that you have learnt.

 You might think that you are learning lessons of life from me but in actuality, I am teaching you about tolerance. This is the only lesson that I am teaching you. Whatever you have written on this book is all about tolerance. 

How is that so?

Life’s lessons have tolerance at its core. 

This is all you need to learn in your life.


Uncle Johnson 

Brushing the dust off the dried pages of the journal, I cried.

I cried because I missed the lessons I have learnt under the tutelage of Uncle Johnson.

I cried because I have not known and acknowledged Uncle Johnson’s years of effort and dedication in taking care of me.

But most importantly, I cried because I missed Uncle Johnson.

Suddenly, there was a few loud knocks on the front door.

“Kenny! Are you in there?”

I recognised Uncle Johnson’s voice instantly, despite years of separation.

I climbed the stairs out of the basement in exasperation, sprinted towards the front door, grabbed the door knob, twisted it around and opened the door.

Bright sunlight streamed in and I squinted my eyes to refocus them.

And there, standing outside the door was Uncle Johnson, who haven’t aged one bit.

He gave me a big smile.


This story is written in a first-person perspective.

Why did I write this story? 

Well, I want to describe the close relations between a child and an old man where the latter serves as a mentor and coach to the former – and how the old can guide and teach the young.

What do I want readers to take away from this story?

I want to focus and emphasise on the importance of tolerance as the essential quality which lies at the core of life’s successes. And I like readers to learn and practice tolerance in real life.

How would I want my story to reach out to readers?

I have deployed the use of dialogues and content which require inner introspection through a narrative structure.

In my next post, we will discuss the importance of “WHERE” and “WHEN” in story-writing.


One thought on “Success factors of Storytelling (Part 4): Let’s look at a story

  1. It’s definitely very important to ask these questions whenever you write. Even though writing is an exercise meant to be done initially for oneself, you still have to make a number of compromises if you wish your work to be more than just manuscripts stashed in your drawer.

    This looks like a very illustrative series of posts! I know I’ll be coming back to check the other entries.


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