The moral of the story is one of the most essential parts of a story.
I’m going to save you the reading. I’ll tell you that if you have a story that you like to tell but it’s got no ending just add “the moral is this” then tell them.
You don’t have to read on but thank you in advance for doing so.
Let’s get on with it.
It took me a few years to understand adding a moral to a story.
Every story, whether you like it or not has a moral. It may not be a good one, it may not be a needed one, but hey, every story has one.
What’s your favourite story that you like to tell?
You probably have a few stories that you like to tell. They either make you a secret genius, or you’re comfortable enough that you don’t mind coming off as a bit of an arse. I bet that as you’re reading this right now, you imagine a few of those stories.
I am too.
There are a couple of stories that I like to tell over and over again. There’s the time I pulled in Brussels and almost ended up stranded in Europe. There was the fancy dress party where I made everyone cry. There’s also inside stories that my sister and I love reliving. Claire if you’re reading this, the goat on the road, “he has asthma he might die”. Oh and something to do with a wig that scared granny.
Now you might think that these stories don’t sound too great but you have them, and I have them. These stories have clear beginnings middles and ends. There is a message that doesn’t need overtly stated. You know a good story when you experience it.
What about the other stories?
You mean the ones that aren’t so good. The ones that have a beginning and a middle but no real ending.
Those are the stories that I want to talk about.
I have a couple of stories like that. I like telling them but they just kind of fizzle out rather than come to a definite end. Also I love telling them because they have enough detail and suspense present that they’re enjoyed. That is until I get to the end zone.
You know what it’s like you tell the story, and it’s over, but it has no end. You can see their faces can’t you? They’re looking at you expectant.
“Then what happened?”
“Well then I left”
“Did anyone say anything?”
“You just walked out of there?”
“Yeah, I thought the commissioner recognised me.”
“But she didn’t”
Why do people keep asking questions
When people ask you questions like that what they’re doing is looking for some kind of closure to the story. If people ask what happens next, it’s because they are expecting some sort of conclusion. You didn’t provide them with one, you told an incomplete story. If people ask for details “What were they wearing”, “How did they react” it’s because they want to fully see the story in their head. You told a good story.
These incomplete stories, I’m going to tell you how to complete them.
It’s simple, you say “The moral of the story is” and then sum it up.
As an example, I’m going to tell you a story that I like to tell but has no end. Then I’ll give you the moral, and you’ll see that it’s an improvement.
Before you start reading let me give you advance warning that this will not be the best story of all time. With or without moral it’s not the best. Let’s manage our expectations accordingly, shall we?
Back in school, before I’d turned 18, I spent a few weeks during summer out in Donegal. Four of us from school went. A friend invited us to his holiday house, and merrily we went.
There was a local pub that we went to. It was local by Donegal standards, in this case, a 45-minute walk on a country lane with no lighting. None of us could drive, and so my friend’s parents dropped us off.
The group of us sat in the pub and drank. I remember looking at some of the local men who sat in stoic silence at the bar not talking to each other. I told my friends that if I lived out in the wilds of the country, I’d try heroin. Only because what was the worst that could happen?
As the night went on, there was a band that was playing traditional music. Was never much of a fan but a friend asked me to request some song that I never heard of and can’t remember the name of. The singer gave me a historical lecture as to why they no longer sang that song.
The night grew longer. At some point, we’re all a little worse for wear now, the “boyos” arrived. They were loud and spotted us immediately. They crowded around our table. The boyos knocked into us on a few occasions sending precious booze spilling. They were doing it deliberately. I may have been drunk, but I wasn’t blind drunk. I saw them smirking and winking to one another.
The pub shut and we made our way out into the windy Donegal night and began the walk home. It was a 45-minute walk sober, God knows how long when pissed.
We walked, talked and stopped for toilet breaks. We passed a school that Padraig Pearse had taught at. Down the hill around the curve.
As we were walking, we noticed behind us lights getting closer in the distance. We kept walking.
The lights were closer, and we could hear an engine rattling getting louder. We all stood in close to the side of the road. Is it with or against traffic?
The vehicle passed, it was a bus. It pulled over and idled. My friends and I stopped in our tracks, the door of the bus opened, and several of the “boyos” appeared.
“Are you going to Seaview?” the largest of a large bunch asked.
It took us a moment before my friend who organised the trip offered, “No we’re having an early one tonight.”
“Fair enough,” says he before disappearing back inside the bus. The bus pulled off. In my drunken haze, feeling brave I shout at the bus pulling away, “Aye, fucking drive on you wankers”.
The bus stopped, and I returned to my natural cowardly disposition. The large one emerged from the smoke and the light.
“Did ye say something there lad.”
“Ehh, have a nice night,” I said. He nodded, disappeared and short after that so did the bus. The four of us left us alone, in the cold and dark with further to walk.
The moral is
Now that is where the story ends. If you liked the story, thank you but let’s add a moral. Imagine I’ve finished telling that story. Instead now right after the last line, I say “So the moral is if someone asks you are you going to Seaview you say yes”.
Might not be the best but it’s an improvement over the original.
Try it yourself.
So remember, the moral of this post is that you add a moral at the end.