So what the Hell does THAT mean?

Story by the Throat is a phrase I’ve coined to describe an approach to storytelling in all areas of life, but particularly roleplaying games. It’s something I’m seeking, not something I’m a master of, so I picture this blog being more of a fluid conversation, rather than a teaching or lecture dynamic, as I explore this concept with anyone who’s interested. That’s the hope, anyway.

Story By the Throat is a connotative term, not a definitive one. Meaning I’m trying to convey a certain emotional experience by painting with words, rather than codifying into conceptual law the exact parameters of a phenomenon that has no clear borders. Rather than wrestle that greased linguistic pig, I’m going to go with my gut and try to connect with you all on a more felt, instinctive level. With luck I’ll occasionally succeed.

Story by the Throat in the context of roleplaying is passionate engagement around the whole gaming table in making a story together. It’s roleplaying with heart and fearlessness that really shows what our protagonists are made of, in the tradition of the gutsiest fiction. It’s switched-on, fired-up, total excited attention to what’s happening right this moment. It’s Story Now, not Story Someday When We All Look Back Fondly, or Story Already Fleshed Out Fully in Our Mental Character Concept, or Story Already Worked Out in the GM’s Notes and We Just Run Through The Motions.

Story by the Throat in the context of individual storytelling is a reclamation of the Oral Storytelling art practiced in every culture in the world. It’s learning to use and appreciate a form of entertainment that’s interactive and personal, that’s living and breathing in way that a movie or television show can never be. It’s the age-old scene of the folk of a community gathering at the tavern or campfire to sing songs, tell tales, drink, laugh, and bond. It’s togetherness and participation fueled by creativity.

Story by the Throat in the context of art is boldly vulnerable self-expression, through whatever means speaks to you. It’s a poem, a play, a story, a painting, a woodcraft, a needlepoint, whatever. . .which truly contains a piece of your passion and your heart. It is not safe, paint-by-numbers “oh, isn’t that nice.” It is committing your whole self to expression and beauty.

Story by the Throat in the context of everyday life is realizing the wonder of the world around you. It’s both recognizing when the everyday events surrounding you are charged with the drama and portent, and living a life such that you’d feel proud of its qualities as a tale of wonder and beauty.

Story by the Throat is, in short, emotionally investing in life, being unafraid to laugh, cry, drink deep, and connect with other human beings in a dangerously authentic way.

All of these are open to discussion. I look forward to it.



5 Responses to “So what the Hell does THAT mean?”

  1. August 30, 2008 at 12:21 pm


    I think that the interesting thing about Story Now is that I’ve already read that phrase and assumed it meant “facestab! HARDCORE! EXCLAMATION MARKS AND 110mph!”

    And a revelation that hit me really recently was that it could also mean, “that scene where we gaze into the rain and idly discuss how radio is similar to God, RIGHT NOW”.

    And so now the techniques/effects for Story By The Throat that I really want to explore are like… holding a silence; abrupt changes in volume; standing and sitting for effect; minimalism; quoting directly from the last book I read; echoing.

    And suddenly I’m like, “wow, this makes lots of sense to me now. I get Story Now.” And I’m excited about this whole Story By The Throat thing, because I’d love to be able to expand and re-contextualize this thought I’ve been having of, like, you can just move to the heart of the matter.

  2. 2 storybythethroat
    August 30, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    For sure. When I first discovered this form of play, it made me all over-eager and impatient in all my gaming, and jump right to “facestab!!!1!” all the time. But a deeper understanding of it as “getting to the point” in whatever form and at whatever pace that “point” may emerge, is far more rewarding and sustainable.

    I’ll feel like unpacking “Story Now” more in my next post. . .but I’m not sure I’d say anything Jesse hasn’t already over at Play Passionately. Hmmm. . .

  3. August 31, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I’d love it if a discussion surrounding how to bring story into conversation were to emerge.

    Just, if like… you’re feeling like you need something non-Jesse-fied to write about.

  4. 4 storybythethroat
    August 31, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Hmm. . .I think I may have just the thing. Lemme ruminate.

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