Beginning Storytelling Part 1: Pick your story

The important part in story-choosing is to read long enough to know the difference between the story that grabs you, some people say it begs to be told, and the story that repulses you.

There should, of course, be many stories in between these extremes, but once you’ve had both experiences, you will better be able to set what you read on the spectrum.

Loads of stories aren’t stop-your-heart or change-your-life amazing, and that’s okay too.

You might compare stories to homemade dinners: one day you manage to recreate the best meal you’ve ever eaten in a restaurant. It’s just as good as you remember, and everyone loves it.

But everyone loves meatloaf, too; and pizza, and grilled-cheese sandwiches.

(Actually, I’ve never really liked grilled cheese sandwiches, but my kids do, and they’re easy to make, so I do.)

Sometimes you pick a story for someone else, like I give my kids grilled cheese, and as long as it’s a gift of love, that’s fine too.

The main thing to look out for in such situations is that you still invest in making the story as good as it can be.

What you can’t get out of, get into wholeheartedly.
Mignon McLaughlin

Some of you might have a story you are afraid to tell because you love it so much. You keep it at arms-length for fear that the beauty of the story will be sullied by the “over exposure” storywork involves.

I used to avoid my most beloved stories, for fear they would loose their magic, knowing if I ruined them for me that I would keep my listeners from knowing the stories’ power.

I couldn’t bear that.

The best answer I discovered is from the book Jane Eyre.

I was for a while troubled with the haunting fear that if I handled the flower freely its bloom would fade–the sweet charm of freshness would leave it.

I did not then know that it was no transitory blossom, but rather the radiant resemblance of one, cut in an indestructible gem.

Love “always protects,” and if you love a story enough to want to protect it, you deserve to try telling it. The best stories, like the woman Rochester loved, prove that what is most worthy of affection will endure.

~ ~ ~

In the end, you do just have to pick one.

Pick a short one, if that’s what you need to build confidence, just don’t settle for anything you can’t put your whole heart into.

By short I mean less than five minutes. Far less is also fine.

The most practical advantage to a small story is that, taking less time to tell, it may be physically rehearsed more times than a longer piece in the limited window storytelling may currently hold.

2 thoughts on “Beginning Storytelling Part 1: Pick your story

  1. My storytelling is currently limited to tales for my kids at bedtime. (Though I suppose it could be argued that a good part of my public speaking is, or should be, story telling as well). So there are a couple post ideas for you: story telling at bedtime for your kids, and story telling as part of making your public speaking memorable.

  2. Those are good ideas to add to the queue. You might enjoy the work of Sean Buvala. He speaks/teaches directly to those issues: parents telling stories (Well, daddies, specifically. One of his handles is “DaddyTeller”) and storytelling in a business context.

    If you’re interested in applied content before I get around to it he has several websites that dig in these areas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *