Stories are everywhere, we’re telling tales and stories all the time: text messages, adverts/marketing, video games, TV programmes, dance, song, visual arts….these are all stories. There are many different kinds of story, folk and fairy tales, myth and legends, creation myths, spontaneous stories, biographical stories. Biographical stories are different from tales we’ve heard or read - when you share your own story ‘find some distance’ between you and your story, so you can find its universal appeal. Whereas if you’re telling a tale which is not linked to you, it’s important to draw it closer to you to make it more authentic, for example inhabiting the character in a play.
This worksheet will teach you some techniques for developing and telling stories.
Find 5 hand-sized or smaller objects from your bedroom, bathroom or garden etc and place them into a box, bag or under a cloth and leave them overnight. The next day (or a few days later) pick one out at random. What is the first memory / story that jumps out at you when you hold it? If a memory doesn’t stir, then choose another object.
Share your facts from this memory with a partner, no more than 2-3 minutes. It might be that, as you speak it out loud, other parts of the memory will come back to you. When sharing your memory, include facts from the 5 senses - how hot or cold was it, what could you hear or smell, what did something in the memory feel like in terms of touch, the object, or something you were wearing or the stones under your feet etc. Swap over and now listen to your partner’s facts.
Your partner asks you 3 - 4 probing questions about your memory, for example details they want to know which you didn’t explain or mention. Allow yourself to elaborate and describe. It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember fine detail, but try not to answer ‘I don’t know’, if in doubt make something up which is in keeping with your memory. Then ask 3 - 4 questions about their facts.
Gossip your story with another partner who hasn’t heard it yet - let the story grow so it’s no longer only a series of facts but a story that has a beginning, middle and end. It should be approximately 5 - 6 minutes long. It might be that you don’t quite know how to begin and end but this will come - let the story grow. Then hear your partner’s gossip.
BEGINNING AND ENDING
With another partner who doesn’t yet know your story share the opening and closing sentence with them and talk about 2 different ways you can begin and end your story. Choose the one you like and fits the most comfortably with your story. Hear your partner’s beginning and end sentences. Check in with each other. Did the opening make you want to hear more? Use all the above steps to develop your story until it feels complete!