Tips on Various Topics by Chris King, Mary Lee and Frank Sweet, Fran
Stallings, Kate Dudding, Mel Davenport, Jane Sims and Mary Garrett
until 2004, every two months I had the delightful opportunity to share
tips from my storytelling friends in my Tips Column in the National
Storytelling Network's (NSN) Storytelling Magazine. Realizing that
not everyone who visits this website is a member of NSN - although I highly
recommend you join - I have decided to periodically start sharing some
of these wonderful tips on this site.
of space limitations in the magazine, I also have many tips that
have been sent to me, but not used. So, this will solve both situations
and it will become a win-win-win project for all of us. I hope you enjoy
them - I received a lot of great feedback the first time I tried it -
and let me know if you like the change of pace and hearing from a full
troupe of tellers. Read on!
tellers provide a lively spirit to history stories, even when
there is little dialogue. After a story has been chosen, crafted and divided
into parts, each teller must learn his/her part. The next step is to practice
together. The last line that one teller says must end with a cue word
to let the other teller know when to begin. This is VERY important. As
the story unfolds, you may find that certain details are difficult for
one teller to remember, but easy for the other. Simply transfer that part
to the other teller. I have trouble remembering names. So my partner will
say, "Tell them about General John Reynolds." If one of us forgets
an important detail, the other can easily work it in. When one teller
is speaking, the other should step back a little and look at the speaker.
Mary Lee Sweet MLSweet@backintyme.com http://www.backintyme.com
The dilemma in choosing a story is between informative value versus
entertainment value. In the immediate, people are entertained
by the comforting and familiar. You are keeping their attention when the
listener silently exclaims, "That is so true!" But, like a Chinese
dinner, the familiar and comforting leaves folks hungry again an hour
later. To make a lasting impression, you must make the listener exclaim,
"I didn't know that!" All education wrestles with that dilemma,
and history is no exception. Tell people what actually happened, and they
can be horrified, offended, and turned off to the point that they stop
listening. Sugar-coat the tale too much and it no longer informs.
Frank Sweet email@example.com http://www.backintyme.com
Years ago I was pondering the "taste" of different kinds
of stories. The tongue can sense only Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salt
(and the recently discovered meaty MSG taste, which has a Japanese name
I haven't learned yet).
Happy sentimental stories are, of course, sweet.
Teaching tales are meaty.
Anger, defeat, and resentment are bitter – as are tales which keep
alive the grudges of the past.
Tales of regret, separation and lost love are tart like lemon or vinegar
– but with the passage of time, can mellow into compassion.
In chemistry class we learned that when you neutralize bitter alkali with
sour acid, the result is salt.
So I think that humor often develops from Anger neutralized with Compassion.
That's why Humor is the salt of life.
Fran Stallings firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.franstallings.com
When creating stories about people who lived in the last 150 years,
I search for words that the person spoke or wrote. I find that a person’s
own words reveal so much about him/her, and that I want to share those
words with my listeners. Obviously, an autobiography is an ideal source.
However, contemporary newspaper accounts can include interviews the day
after newsworthy events in people’s lives. When researching one
person, who lived in New York City in 1905, I had my local library’s
interlibrary loan librarian borrow microfilm of a newspaper from the New
York Public library. I only paid the postage. When researching another
person, with a newsworthy accomplishment in 1883, I went to the library
in his town. All issues of the town’s newspaper were on microfilm.
He told a reporter that while he received no money for his accomplishment,
it had been "a labor of love."
Kate Dudding email@example.com http://www.katedudding.com
Storytelling was somewhat of an isolated experience for me during
the first years.
I told stories in specific church related venues or conferences, but didn't
really know about the storytelling profession or that other storytellers
existed. Then I went back to college, became computer literate, and my
small-world tale became an epic saga filled with real-life characters
from cyberspace. When I joined STORYTELL,
a whole world of storytelling was opened up to me. Cyber-tellers introduced
me to state and national organizations, to professional development books
and website resources, and to the storytelling profession. These friends
sent "bare bones" of stories and my own personal stories were
birthed from some of those mere ideas. Computer technology may not count
as a down-home, front-porch experience, but for me it has sure enhanced
it! Ya'll drop by, set a spell, now, ya here?! I'll save a cyberspace
Mel Davenport LuvandStories@aol.com
It is very hard to organize any storytelling event successfullywithout getting your PR into print or on the air.
an up-to-date database of all broadcast and print media within 100 miles
of your event. You may save valuable dollars if they accept news by
fax or e-mail.
plan a day for students to attend or tellers to visit schools, establish
communication with school officials before the annual budget is set.
and professional looking press releases, fact sheets, calendar listings,
and fliers add credibility to your event. Always "spell check."
strategies to remember are Timeliness and Consistency. You can't begin
to promote an event or festival too soon: 12 months out is good. Locate
Events and Calendar editors, introduce yourself, and set up a meeting
to talk about your event. This is particularly important in launching
a new event.
I believe in workshops! I love to go to workshops! I enjoy the
new ideas and the chance to concentrate on the art of story and spend
time with other tellers. When I give a workshop, I provide some sample
stories and suggestions for selecting, developing, and telling stories.
I tell a few of my favorites and, most important, leave some time for
participants to tell to each other in pairs or small groups. It's the
telling that makes a storyteller! . . . and the encouragement that helps
one tell more!!
Mary Garrett firstname.lastname@example.org
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Seeger's Storytelling Book
You can almost hear the banjo plucking away in the background
as veteran singer-songwriter Pete Seeger tells his folksy
tales and shares his useful tips on storytelling.