10 Key Ingredients in Creating and Telling A Story

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Similar to any delicious meal, a story sometimes follows a recipe. Sure, great chefs sometimes don't need a recipe and they cook from intuition, but to get started as any good cook, you need a lot of practice.

This is the presentation used in a 1 hour webinar where we explored the 10 Key Ingredients in creating a story used in the storytelling card game -- Let Me Tell You A Story.

10 Key Ingredients in Creating and Telling A Story

  1. 10 Key Ingredients Google Hangout On Air Tuesday 17th of June 2014 20:00 – 21:00 Romanian Time Alex Glod Storyteller Let me tell you a story...
  2. Who’s in the house?
  3. Disclaimers  This presentation will outline 10 Key Ingredients for creating and telling stories  They do not represent the absolute truth and they are not the only ingredients used in storytelling  The objective of this presentation is to introduce you to a basic understanding of how stories can be made and told  Use this presentation as a source of inspiration, rather than a space for debate
  4. The Point What is the point of my story? What are these people going to leave with after they hear it? What is the thing that will remain in their heads? This is a vital question to consider when crafting your story, more vital than whether to choose a village or a city setting for your story. If you build your story well around the point, people will be hooked on your idea. You can name it or you can let people fill in the blank for you and that is when you empower them, just that it takes a lot of practice to achieve that.
  5. The Setting Put some work in the context or in the various contexts in which everything takes place. The environment is key and it’s not just for you to show off your vocabulary and ability to describe, it is there to mirror the characters and to connect with the places in which your audience also lives. I know you can dream of so many beautiful landscapes, but what’s the use of a 20 km waterfall if no one can create that image in their heads and relate to it as well? Enter the setting and ask “What is this place?”
  6. Characters There has to be someone or something that anyone can relate to in your story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a male or a female, a human or an animal, a star or a rock, a river or a mountain. Just make sure you craft a personality and character around it. You can choose from one’s life history, upbringing, the family one grew up in, people one spent time with, ideas he or she agreed with, emotions which one experienced, accents one used, clothes and colors one wore, physical features or even similarities to certain people.
  7. Conflict and Change In every good story, there is something that happens to the main characters or there is a big change in the setting that occurs and to which the characters are simple witnesses. Regardless of the case, make sure to introduce a process of change and to point out how it is occurring, as well as its implications. You can use the classic before and after reference, but you can also approach it differently – stages of change, elements of change, parallel processes of evolution, beginning with the change from a different time in the past etc.
  8. Frames When we tell a story, we don’t go into all the details of everything that had happened. Like in a movie, we take specific events from the timeline of the story and we insist on them – ex. The moment of birth, the first day at school, the first kiss, quitting from the job etc. We take such frames from the story and we paint a vivid picture of the actions, the behaviors and thoughts of the characters, the dynamics and the decisions made. And to make even more interesting, we also put a bit of drama and suspense in the recipe, like a good spice in a dish.
  9. Aesthetics Paint beautiful images in our minds. Not just of the natural landscapes or of the high-class bars in which the story takes place. Paint the image of the characters as well. They don’t have to be symmetrical, make sure that it all fits perfectly in the whole mix. Surely you will have bad guys and scary settings, make sure to not be sloppy about it. Just because you might not agree with a character, don’t denigrate him. Paint him or her as visually as possible. Oh and also convey the sounds as accurately as possible.
  10. Dialogue Storytelling should not be confused with narration of facts. Sadly, that is what most people choose to do when they tell a story – excess narration and little dialogue. Dialogue is the platform for building characters, settings, intrigue and emotions. Carefully craft the content of the dialogue. Make it more than just the usual Hello! How are you? character interaction. Through dialogue, you can transmit many points and share words of wisdom, thus making the story a fruitful listening experience.
  11. Emotion Don’t bless us with lots of characters, details of the setting or delightful metaphors, if you don’t maintain sufficient emotion to illustrate it. Don’t speak of pain and suffering, express pain and suffering. Don’t talk of the beautiful settings, impersonate the character witnessing it in awe for the first time. Don’t talk about what the stepmother thought of her, speak in the same tone and with the same hate and envy. Connect with the emotions that accompany your story and transpose them using all of your authenticity…
  12. Anchors I’m not talking about sailing anchors of course, but of elements which have the same function – to keep the audience in place, as well as bringing the audience into perspective. Either build an intriguing situation, which seems to have no end to keep people hooked, or impersonate the character in a very familiar way. Ask the audience to empathize with the character or ask them how it felt when they encountered the same challenges. Make them a part of your story, or even better, build the story with them…
  13. Humor Everyone enjoys a good laugh and humor should have a special place in your story, regardless of whether it tackles sensitive issues or not. In case of emotional stories, it is easy to send people through a negative emotional whirlpool so a bit of humor might wake people up. Or in the case of scientific or complex stories, humor can make them easier to follow. Remember, listening to a story must be an enjoyable experience since you are hoping that this valuable story will be told to other people afterwards…
  14. So, what is your story?
  15. Storytelling for Public Speakers From Zero to Hero

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