Storytelling is an ancient form of communication. For millennia, people have passed on traditions, legends, and historic events through the telling of stories. True storytelling does not make use of books; like the ancients, it is intended to convey an idea simply through the spoken word.
Many are interested in exploring the art of storytelling, but aren’t sure where to begin. If this interests you, here are some ideas on getting started.
1. Research the stories you love or have heard, such as folktales. Many of those stories were told and re-told many times before being written down. And people still enjoy them today. Why? Look into what ties these stories together across generations. What makes them compelling? Why do children still enjoy these ancient stories? As you seek answers for these things, you can weave these universal elements into your storytelling.
2. Consider family stories. Talk to your relatives and, if you have the means, do some genealogical research. Nearly everyone has at least one interesting character or story in their past. As you find these fascinating personalities, you can create stories about them or tell their true stories.
You might have family stories that have been passed down, too, that you might not have considered for storytelling fodder. Did your grandmother used to make remarks about certain incidents? Maybe your dad likes to joke with your uncle about something funny that happened to them when they were kids. Keep your ears open!
3. Look to your own past. You can invent a character for your storytelling, and use incidents and insights from your own past to create adventures for your character. Or you can tell the story in the first person point of view (using “I”). Think about the lessons you’ve learned or funny, interesting things that have happened to you over the years. Turn these events into compelling stories.
4. Attend storytelling programs. This may be the most important thing you do as you embark on your own storytelling ventures. Local fairs and festivals may feature storytellers, or programs might be held at your local theater. Find out when storytelling is occurring in your community, and make a point to attend. If possible, get to know the storytellers and make connections; then you can talk to them about this ancient art.
You may find yourself amazed at the different styles of storytelling. Some people use props; others move around; still others stay still. You will see that there is no “right” way to do storytelling; the common thread is the ability to interest others and draw them in to your world. How you do that will reflect your personality and unique experiences.
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