More than anything, we want to hear your stories. We encourage anyone with a tale to tell to get in touch – and we’ll help you share it with the world. Stories can be submitted anytime for The Yarn. Please send your ideas and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org to get the big ol’ ball of yarn rolling.
Remember that the art of storytelling is just that – an art. As such, it’s helpful to remember a few things about what makes the difference between a good story, and a great one – one that people will take with them, that they’ll remember and talk about later.
With that in mind, here are some basic tips on storytelling at The Yarn.
Story-telling not story-reading.
We want our storytellers to engage with the audience more than anything. We really mean it. We want you to connect to the audience with your story through the way you tell it. We see a page as a literal and figurative barrier between the storyteller and the audience. When we say “no pages”, we mean “no pages”. No notes, papers, palm cards etc… you get the idea.
Know your story.
Because you won’t have any notes with you, we want you to know your story. Know where you’re headed. No one wants to see you floundering in the middle because you don’t know what your story is about. Take us with you on a journey by all means, through whatever backstreets you choose, but know your eventual destination.
A good way to go about it is to prepare your first few lines. Then find out how you think you might like to end it. How much time has passed since the start? Where are you in the ending? What has changed externally, and more importantly, internally? Then, figure out two or three major points that got you to the end. Do they all connect? If not, perhaps your ending is not the real ending. What are you trying to express with your story? Remember, these are only suggestions to help you.
“Know your story” doesn’t mean learn it word for word and then recite said story as if it were your name, rank and serial number. If you have a basic plan and know the parts of the story that are important, all you need is to tell your way towards them. Don’t just regurgitate.
What has changed?
Why are you telling this story about yourself? A story in which nothing changes physically, emotionally, to you or another person is less a story and more of a description. What was your realisation about the world, about yourself, about English Style Baked Beans?
You have twelve minutes, make them count.
Start in the action. Get things cracking from the very beginning. Set up what will be at stake early in the piece. This is a good way to maintain focus in your tale and also to grab the audience and throw them into it immediately.
Bad Example: “I’ve always hated sport. I was terrible at archery, I sucked at tennis, volleyball defeated me every time and I can’t even tread water. Ability in sport is something that has eluded my family for generations. There was one event in my childhood that still haunts me…”
Better example: “Blood pulsed from his nose, staining his clip board. Mr Donne was not happy”.
Things that won’t work at The Yarn.
Stand up routines: We like funny. If you have a funny story you’re very welcome. If you have a bunch of one-liners, you can take your best one-liner and… make a story out of it.
Rants: Got something to say? Does it go nowhere, have no narrative flow, is a vitriolic tirade? Yell it into a pillow and figure out what part you could turn into a story.
We know it sounds silly but… RELAX!
It’s great when a storyteller is confident in their story and can have fun with the audience. Most important from your point of view is to enjoy the experience. Think of it like you’re at a dinner party, people are happy and contented and you’re holding court.
With these points in mind, the floor is all yours – take us somewhere outside ourselves, and we’ll love you for it – and the audience will, too.