I was sitting with a group of friends the other day and one of them was telling everyone a story that went something like this: he started by giving about 30 seconds worth of back story, then said, "to make a long story short..." and then "the end." That was it. "Something happened, and to make a long story short, the end." I felt robbed. I mean, I'm sure whatever he was about to tell us was great, but by shortening his story so much I totally lost why he was even telling it in the first place. Here's why I believe the phrase “to make a long story short” should be removed from our vocabulary...
What this phrase really says is, “to remove from the story details and intricacies because of time constraints.” Why would someone do that? What is the purpose in taking a story and, instead of adding things to make it better, taking away things that make it what it is? In condensing stories to make them fit the constraints we have, or perceive we have, we rob them of the joy they are capable of providing. Stories that are comedic lose their laughter. Stories that are endearing lose their pull. Stories that are meant to teach lose their lesson.
Here is my advice, and take it for what it’s worth: only tell stories the way they are meant to be told and in their fullest capacities. It is easy to want to shorten stories because of the time or because of the audience, but this is how we lose stories. Instead, tell the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story so help you God. In that, you will find that people will be more responsive to your stories, especially to the ones that you care the most about. Because when you truly care about a story, you put a piece of your heart in that story, and people can see that. Furthermore, people who care about you will care about what you care about. That’s confusing. Let me clarify. When your best friend says they have something to tell you, and they seem excited about it, how do you feel? You’re probably excited to hear about whatever it is they want to share. The same is true for the opposite emotion. If your best friend says they have something to tell you, and they seem upset about it, you’re probably going to approach that conversation in a more cautious manner. The fact is, we empathize with those close to us. This is true both in life, and in stories.
Their is a flip side to telling stories in their fullest sense; some people will not care about your story. They’ll say it was too long, not interesting, or downright boring. The worst part is that those people will almost never tell you that to your face, but rather they will smile cordially and nod their heads along with what you’re saying. These people are the worst. Ignore them and tell your story. The people who can’t listen to the story of another are ones who typically have no story themselves, and for that they should be pitied.
There is also a flip side to this flip side and it is that your story might be terrible. Don’t tell a terrible story. Instead, make it better. Learn the details, the way to tell it, and then put your heart into it because a story that has a heart behind it is always a good story.