Wednesday, September 8, 2010


As I sit before my computer screen, I find I can only share a lesson learned today. 

Last week while posting Allie Gory's story Allegorys I found the words flowed quicker than my fingers could type.  A story within a story blossomed in seconds, concept conveyed.  The thrill of victory set in. This week an agony of defeat lunged at me through the monitor. 

At this moment in time, after three days of pondering, I still cannot write a parable. 

But....this descending, spiraling into utter disappointment moment does not mean I cannot discuss one of the ultimate means of illustrating a concept.

Stay with me--don't leave.  You may not think you can use parables in yor WIP or even write one. Don't limit yourself.  Explore this great tool that Jesus used with me today.

While listening to the people gathered around Him, Jesus chose to use a short method of illustration to teach, answer, and explain concepts.  Why did He do that?

The people called Him Rabbi, meaning teacher.  I am His student.  Therefore I want to learn how to tell or write a parable and have it ready--at my fingertips--to use at the right time.

Parables are short illustrations seeded with layers of meaning. The listeners/readers understanding depends on their level of knowledge regarding the point being made. One could be entertained with a delightful short story, another left pondering a new concept.

I pondered the parables Jesus told and wondered, what do these short stories have in common?

Key components to telling/writing a parable

*Short- Jesus' time on earth was limited. Every moment served a purpose.  He did not come to be a great story teller, yet telling stories served a purpose in His ministry.  By condensing His stories He helped the person/s with their current issue then He moved on to the next task.

*Simple- Jesus used parables to teach the general population. Every listening ear could understand the story in some way. He chose common settings and characters laced with a problem.  As a result he didn't need to waste time with descriptions, backstory, or expansive dialogues.  In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus simply starts, "A sower went out to sow." In a few short verses he tells what happened to the seeds.

This doesn't mean he couldn't carry on an intellectual conversation.  He sparred intelligently with the Pharisees and Sadducees on numerous occassions and won every battle. 

*People- Parables always have people as the main characters.  Animals, plants, forces of nature, etc. are used in fables.  Jesus used shepherds, farmers, kings, noblemen, fathers, women, etc.

*Length- The length of the parable is appropriate to convey the concept.  A parable can be as short as one sentence or several paragraphs long.  The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price: "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it."  That's it.  One sentence! Volumes of meaning.  Yet the Prodigal Son took twenty one verses.

*Clear- Some of Jesus' parables had several examples; others only used one situation. The parable of The Lost Sheep tells of a shepherd searching for the one lamb; the parable of The Lost Coin tells of a woman searching for one coin. Whereas The parable of The Good Samaritan tells of three men who walked by a wouded person and the parable of The Sower tells of three places seeds fell. Parables allow for variance to meet the need.

*Greatest Ingredient- The purpose of the parable is to nestle a truth within a story so that those who need to learn the concept can.

Here is a challenge for you.  I will start a finish it.  The endings will vary depending on your point of view of the truth.

A farmer appeared before his master one day.  Pleased with the farmer's service the master rewared him with  two bulls.  The farmer examined the two bulls and placed the healthier one in a rich field of hearty grasses. He place the other bull.......

Rise up...take the challenge.

If you are interested  here is a site that lists all of the parables Jesus told and their Scripture references:


Casey said...

You've stumped me Mary.

What would he have done with the bull? I might have to bullet this, I can't think of a conherant thought right now.

~Why would he keep the bull if he wasn't a good animal?

~Did he want to see if he could bring it around? I.e. Jesus wooing us.

~What if everday he went out and trained the animal and the bull refused his advances?

~What if he fed him the choicest food and talked to him in the gentelest of tones?

~What if the animal started to come around and the owner celebrated the victory however small?

~But then the bull saw a cow on the other side of the fence and ignoring the master's pleas barreled through the fence, tearing his body a great deal on the barbed wire?

~What if the damage was so great he couldn't heal and just devoloped an infection?

~What if the master couldn't heal him because the bull wouldn't let him touch him?

~And what if finally the bull died because of his stubborn refusal to accept the master's love?

Really makes you think, I like what you said about don't letting the thought of my story not being a parable limit you, because really all stories are parables if you think about it. You've made me think deeper today, Mary. Thank you.

Mary Vee Writer said...

And you have expanded my thoughts, Casey. Thanks:)
Jesus used parables as a tool to direct our thoughts toward a heavenly meaning. You have found some great directions to take this parable. :)

Casey said...

Well what your little series has really done for me is open my eyes to how deep this can take our writing. Like a giant metaphor, with a deeper, more hidden meaning. It has made me think about how I can take my stories and how I write to a deeper level without seeming overt in the message. Like I said, think deeper today....

Pepper said...

He placed the other one near his home where he could tend to it personally. Though the healthy bull continued to remain healthy, as it had been when the farmer bought him, the sickly bull slowly grew into a stronger, healthier bull than the first. More hard working and aware.

Thanks for hte insights, Mary. Allegory & paraable are GREAT tools in fantasy, btw. I love to use them there.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I like your answer, Pepper.

Thanks for your thoughts, Casey and Pepper. I think allegories and parables add a unique dimension to a story. The unsuspecting twist hidden in a kernal of story. Jesus obviously had that figured out...his parables held unique dimensions that Bible scholars still work to unfold.
I could see the great benefits of using parables and/or allegories in fantasy.