June 3, 2009
Oral story, the oldest form of storytelling, vibrates
in our bones. We tell stories all day to many
people. Writing the stories follows the same
structural processes of plot, characterizing, and
scenes as a verbally told story but we use word
symbols for the voice symbols. In verbally told
stories we can use body movement and facial
expressions for the characters. For both crafts,
concise, clear words paint images and bring the
characters alive to hear and see.
When crafting the ‘oral story’ the first sentence is
the set-up -- the when, where, who, and what:
Once upon at time so-and-so lived somewhere and felt something. In a picture
book the first three illustrations are the set-up (when, where, who, and what). In
a chapter book or middle-grade novel it's the first page, and in a young adult or
adult novel the first chapter is the set-up for the story. Then the listeners or
readers are lead by words to the emotional event -- the why: a conflict, problem,
or puzzle to resolve.
Clear, accurate words direct and focus the journey. Plotting starts. For the
youngest audience, one character interacts with someone or something in three
to five scenes. For the more mature audience, many characters interact in the
main plot with subplots traveling an A to Z path with many emotional events.
The storyteller or writer intrigues the audience with twists and mystery to
enhance the story.
Carefully selected written or verbal words focus the characters in action. The
characters move, react, and talk -- not telling but showing the characters in the
scenes. Words connect images to the listeners or readers. The present or simple
past tense makes the drama stronger. The characters push the plot forward.
The emotional actions, reactions, and dialogues of the characters reach out and
emotionally cord, bonding to the listeners or readers, who then plug into motives and feelings of the characters’ or their own. The charge is the emotional impact of conflict, adventure, or the puzzle. The audience is glued into the story waiting for the final charged event -- the how. Satisfying stories have a solution for the audience. The conclusion shows change in the characters, and the ending brings the audience back to their world.
A story can be told in five sentences or written into hundreds of pages to enjoy
for days. To know how your written story affects readers, tell the story to
listeners and watch their expressions. The facial expressions will tell if the story
is good, or needs more work.
STORY seems so simple, however; STORY is complicated on many levels.
Here are websites that post events and classes, fests, and workshops for
storytelling, ultimately helping in crafting the written story.
Stagebridge is a school for seniors in acting and storytelling. In one semester you'll experience teachers and their special skills and styles.You learn how to have fun while developing stories. Check their website stagebridge.
Storytelling Association of Alta California has a calendar of events for storytelling. STORYLINE (SAC newsletter) is a $30 yearly subscription, which lists all upcoming
storytelling events. Check out SAC, Facebook
SAC Storytelling Festival, 2010 was the 25th celebration Bay Area Storytelling Festival, which is a feast of stories told by selected professional storytellers. Check out BASF for next years events.
National Storytelling Network, NSN for a listing of event and storytellers.
A MUST! An archive of stories since September 2006! A feast for the ears! Jackie Baldwin's radio show, Story-Lovers World!, airs every Sunday from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time on public radio station KSVY in Sonoma Valley. Contact to Jackie visit her website story-lovers.
Bobbie Kinkead is an illustrator, author and storyteller, can be viewed at following web addresses to learn more about BobbieTales and her work: