Tell-A-Story Day: Storytelling Tips

Today is Tell-a-Story Day, and it’s time to participate in the age-old tradition of storytelling. No one knows exactly how Tell-a-Story Day came to be, but it is a day recognized throughout the United States. Many libraries participate in Tell-a-Story Day and plan special activities. It isn’t difficult to participate in the event as you can simply tell a story. The most popular methods associated with storytelling include reading books to others, oral storytelling, sharing tall tales, folk tales and myths, or even using puppets to express a story. Stories can be fiction or non-fiction, personal family tales, or fanciful creations.

Telling stories to children is relatively simple. Many children like to ask questions and you can use that as a starting place for storytelling. It’s also simple to pick up a book and read to a child. What becomes a bit more difficult for some is storytelling to adults. Tell-a-Story day isn’t just a time to share a good fiction story or ghost story with children, but also a time to engage adults in fascinating and entertaining tales.

Whether telling a story about a true event or a fictional account, everyone can benefit from learning essential elements that should be included in storytelling. While not everyone is a professional journalist who needs to tell the impertinent details and facts of a story, everyone can glean a bit of expertise from the advice provided in the following video.

Stanford shares a document that discusses several major aspects of storytelling. The first point is to know your point. All stories told must have a purpose and direction. Understanding the story’s purpose will help your formulate the best strategy of delivery. Know what it is you want your story to convey and stay on topic.

The second point is to be authentic. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you are telling a fiction story in the aspect that you are telling a story that is unreal, but even the delivery needs to be authentic and sincere. If you are sharing a story that is non-fiction, however, it will be imperative that you are emotionally invested in the tale. If you aren’t emotionally invested in it, you run the risk of losing your audience’s attention. Whether telling a story to a child or a room full of adults, you want your story to be engaging, and the best way to engage and captivate your audience is by being real and authentic.

The third aspect of successful storytelling is the character. You must have a point to your story, and your character is what will best express your point. Characters portray the emotional aspects of your story, and are what brings your story to life and makes them real and relatable. When telling stories, focus on characters and give them larger than life qualities as this will help the audience respond to them in a positive manner.

Your characters need to be exciting, and one way to do that is through action. Your characters need to be battling something in order to come to a resolution. According to the Stanford document, the three principles of dramatic action that your characters need to engage in are action, conflict, and transformation. Action deals with what the character is trying to achieve. Conflict deals with problems that prohibit the character from reaching his or her goal. Transformation focuses on conflict resolution and the way the character grows and changes afterward.

When developing characters, whether for written or oral stories, you need to express their characteristics through details. Make sure that your reader or audience has a true picture of your character’s personality traits.

How will you celebrate Tell-a-Story day?

[Photo by Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock]

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