Listen: A Place to Begin (Part 1)


person-2643076_1280“Tell! Tell! Do tell! Tell me a story!” The very words which catapult storytellers into action. Spinning stories into life, the tellers immerse themselves into the reality of story’s journey. Listeners quiet, gasp, quake, laugh, cry and nod, as they too experience the reality of the story’s unfolding.

This is all great, but now, I want to be the one telling a story and engaging the audience. Where do I begin? How do I get started?

Listen, for all great storytellers begin by listening. Listen to conversational stories told by the people around you. Listen to professional storytellers tell from stages. Listen to their stories, their cantor, their words, their emotional expression and to how their stories are crafted.

The delightfully twisted, unimaginably convoluted and predictably intensified conversational stories streaming from the folks around us we can catch on our own. Yet for today and over the course of the next few blog posts, let’s listen to a few tales from some professional storytellers.

The first one is a folktale entitled, The Well at the World’s End, adapted and retold by an unidentified storyteller.

Until next time … Let a Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

Expanding the Humor: Guffaw & Giggles


 

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The joy of laughing guarantees the laugh-er, or the person who is laughing, a cruise down health and sanity’s Easy Street. From giggling to guffawing, experts cite laughter’s side-splitting benefits. Benefits which may include decreases in blood pressure and stress hormones; increases in oxygen flow and creativity as well as increases in abdominal strengthing and exercise. Laughing is highly contagious, a mood elevator and a relationship icebreaker.  It can be done individually or as a group. It benefits everything and costs nothing.

Laughing also helps us to expand and enliven the images of our stories.

Story-size: Pick a story or a folktale you love. Then ask:

Why do you love it?
What about it makes you laugh?
Which part or parts are funny? Why?

Next, pick a funny part. Really focus on what makes you laugh. Then laugh. Or maybe giggle, cackle or guffaw, it doesn’t matter. Just let it go and get going. Laugh, then laugh some more. It may feel fake at first but keep on going. Remember, laughter increases creativity and enhances physical and emotional well-being. The better we feel and the more fun we are having the more naturally and creatively our story grows. Have fun. Experience the moment. Laugh in the feelings and emotions connected to this part of your story. The more alive and nature your story becomes, the easier it is to tell.

Once the laughing subsides, think back to this part of the story.

What did you like about the experience?
What changed during the experience?
What is so funny about what was funny?
What new ideas or refined images do you have now?
Are there any other parts of the story which pulls your attention in a humorous way or even a non-humorous way?
What new insights did this experience bring?

When it’s funny, we just have to laugh! Keep laughing, experiencing and growing your story. Laugh, dance, snore, cry … live, enhance and experience the images of your story. The more vivid the images, the more real your story becomes. The more vivid the images the easier it is to tell.

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

 

 

 

Beyond the Facts & Stats


 

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The dissemination of intellectual or knowledge-based information is often achieved through educational lectures and professional seminars.  Word-impacted power-point presentations fill overhead screens accompanied by handouts with accompanying empty black lines flanking images of screen shots. Thus offering audience members an additional way to record another’s idea of what they think is truly important. Opinion poles, bar graphs, and test results are frequent flyers in the realm of evidence-based documentation or presentations. This type of official data also provides audience members with justifiable proof and unquestionable credibility about what they have to say and why they should be paid.

These authoritatively utilized, zealously prescribed and frequently clung to methods of information dumping are heralded by acclaimed experts. Yep, duty-bound experts in any given field come fully armed and loaded with their ability to blast us with yet another round of impressively, important material. Information we’re privileged enough to listen to and even more privileged to pay for.

OK, I get it. Informational programs and seminars can be helpful and informative. Learning new information and being exposed to fresh ideas can also be illuminating, practical and even inspirational. Still, they can also be easily forgotten, yawn-provokingly dull, and stoically lifeless. But what about story? A word, a concept and an art form often lost in an impressively, impersonal jungle of justifiably, unwavering facts and stats.

Now back to story, with its emotionally engaging and creatively inspiring conquests of intrigue, suspense, and adventure. Stories are juicy, zany, troublesome, romantic, cataclysmic, informational, cautionary and heartwarming. They captivate our attention and tug at our heartstrings. Stories remind us of who we are and inspire us to be more than we thought we could be. They remind us of what is important and how our lives impact others. They challenge us. They inspire us. They incite action. They are intrical to who we are and to the foundation of our lives.

For now, let’s power down our powerpoints and put down our writing utensils. Let’s nestle in, leaving behind the concerns of the day. Let’s forget the past and focus on the present. Through the power of story, let’s discover more of who we are and the resources we have to meet the challenges which lie ahead. Let’s find out who or what changed over the course of story’s journey. Let’s experience the intrigue of what happened, how it happened and how it all came to be. Let’s move into action and gain inspiration from the protagonist or others who have gone before us. Let’s celebrate the victory of story’s success.

Great, so where do we go from here?

What is a problem or challenge does your audience needs to solve?

Who is the main character? (a worker, manager, client, patron …)

What obstacles have to be overcome? Pick a few of the key ones. It’s ok, even preferable if the protagonist doesn’t meet all of them. This is just life and part of what makes a story great!

What happens at the end?

How do they get there?

Who or what has changed?

What’s the most important point of your story?

Once you’ve formulated your story, tell it to a few supportive listeners or a storytelling coach. The job of supportive listeners is to listen; not to critique. Although, you might ask them what they liked about it or if they had any questions.

Facts, stats, and figures have their place. Yet stories engage us. They are easily remembered. They compel us to tell them again and again. For a story well-told is always the beginning; never the end.

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s journey continue!

 

 

 

 

 

Goal Quest-ers and Story Seekers


 

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The goals of our lives often masquerade themselves in the form of personal accolades, esteemed outcomes, alluring destinations and athletic’s teaming victories. The word goal is a four letter word for some. An, ‘I couldn’t make without them’ for others and a definite ‘must’ in the world of sports.

In reviewing the book, Crash Course in Storytelling by Kendal Haven, the word “goals” again appears in the multitude of letter-combining words and phrases on the pages in front of me. What! Goals? This is storytelling, not personal achievement, corporate conquest or athletic management; or so I alluded myself into thinking. But goals . . reading on, yes, of course goals, how simple! Stories are teaming with mischievous, magical, overachieving, dimwitted, crazed and deviant goal setters. The plot thickens with murderous intent; romantic conquest, riches unlimited; savory meals and hilarious, dim-witted drudgery. Goals spear a story forward into the eventful, how, where, when or why accolades of story’s unpredictable journey. Goals often comprise story’s navigational force and fortitude.

A trip down folktale lane sites a few infamous goal setting quest-ers and outcome adventurers:

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Norwegian Folktale)

  • The grass is always greener across the bridge, if only that loud-mouthed goat-guzzling troll would step aside.

Little Snow-White (German Folktale)

  • Seriously, four accounts of attempted murder against your own seven year old child?
  • Wild boar organs with a dash of human never tasted so good.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (Denmark Literary Tale)

  • Royally paid, nameless tailors sell the king on their cutting-edge, custom-designed, fabric-less new cloths.
  • Less than royal street gawkers, wonder if they should enact legal precedence and have this royally acclaimed stripper arrested for inappropriate, flabby and pornographic  exposure.
  • The king’s choice to maintain his legally, royally approved presence while parading through town royally exposed.

Character’s goal setting and adventurous outcomes define story’s cankerous unfolding. Goals support listener navigation through the guided or misguided intentions of its outlandish characters.  They further help story seekers step into character’s devious, mischievous, dimwitted, outwitted goal spearing adventures which lie ahead. Story’s plot is then built around the struggle, humor, adventure and wisdom of our goal quest-er’s journey.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

Gas Guzzlers Ignite Stories


legs-434918_1280This year’s, annual Auto-Mechanical Gas Guzzler’s Explo, features the latest in green automotive design and short-circuits in legislated, auto-emission standards. Participants from around the globe come to expand their knowledge base, spark their curiosity or succumb to their boss’s ultimatums. The percussion marketing of highly polished, gas guzzling cars, fuel the images of our mind’s internal dialogue:

“Too expensive.”
“Divorce court vs. motorized euphoria; weighing the options.”
“I know I can do it! At sixty plus hours of overtime each week, within 10 years, it will be mine!”
“Ignition key to dating ease. . . “

A car is a car. This is until the images story make this four-wheeled, prefabricated creation more than a standard, off-the-assembly line motorized vehicle. Emotion, meaning, change and drama transform this image into a story. Now rolling off the pre-assembled memory-lined banks of our mind’s eye, this car becomes an animated piece, part or aspect of our daily lives. For some it may become a career path while for others a fatality. No matter what its course, our car’s talk makes our story’s run; thus turning our prefabricated, motorized transportation into more than just a car.

One example of an image’s story-ification process is the ever dreaded, ill-fated, driver’s education road test. The very one which currently separates us from the constricted confines of parent approved, chauffeur services from the world of driver-independent, motorized freedom. The big day arrives. Masterfully fastening our seat belts and turning the key, reality hits. The reality of having locked ourselves inside a small metallic,
four-wheeled, accelerating, motorized structure with a complete stranger. One who has been exclusively state appointed and solely invested with the power to welcome us into the sacred realm of independent drivers; or to condemn us into retaking the dreaded, ill-fated road test yet again. At this point, the simple image of a car becomes the vividly vibrant foundation of this story’s unfolding.

Research and informational presentations deal primarily with facts. Story and story-based communication encompasses images, emotion and change. The place where life is as it is, change happens and life as it was, will never again be the same.

So . . . what is the story behind your first car?

What was your first car like?

Was it your dream car, filled with the tantalizing aroma of new car smell? The very one now adding a much needed jump start to your social life and a unexpected, fueled-spark of ignition to your love life.

. . . OR . . .

Was it a state of the arts jalopy, beater or rattletrap? The one where rubberized floor-mats strategically covered the rust-eaten-holes in your car’s floorboards; separating you from road spray’s loose debris and soggy splash backs.

What ever image you choose, fill it with emotion, suspense and intrigue. Then pile in and enjoy the ride into your next story’s adventurous unfolding.

Expect taken from Break Out Storytelling: A Leap off the Page Guide to Telling a Story by Grace Wolbrink.

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

Taking the Plunge: The Annual, Internationally Acclaimed Toliet Paper Roll Off


 

 

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Stories are as stories were. Their propelling magnetism, mystifying allure, and ever thickening plot lines interlace with their dastardly daring, humorously dislodging and mischievously deceptive adventures. Each one offering a unique portal of uncharted exploration. Whether it’s up the chimney, down the toilet or through the drain pipe, story’s magical allure draws each of us into the moment of now. Into the presence of story’s reality.

It’s the eve of this year’s annual Toilet Paper Roll Off. Circling the stadium, ardent fans arrive papered with discarded catalogs, farm’s almanacs and outdated magazines. Stadium watchers plunge through the night sopping up previously read reading material, engaging in inspired inner reflection and jamming to piping hot tunes. At day break ardent fans, later joined by cheering crowds, fill stadium seats.

Four pre-a-plyed teams represent this year’s, internationally acclaimed, Toilet Paper Roll Off. Announcers’ rallying voices mark the official unwrapping of this annual event. Fans tear it up. Sponsors pay it out. Manufactures cash it in.

Stirring up the bowls, this year’ tubular sensations include;

The City of Nottingham’s  Tax-a-Coin Profiteers, in gold;
Sherwood Forest’s Merrily Heisting Bandits in green, and
The internationally acclaimed, racing legends: Hares’ Rival Racers in orange, and Tortoises’Terrestrial Centenarians in khaki tan uniforms.

Sheets of pre-embossed, standardized, prefabricated rolls of perforated paper, line the playing field. Pre-event tension sparks opposition between opposing teams.

Fans wait in tanked anticipation. Questioning wonderment fills the stadium. Will Sherwood Forest’s Merrily Heisting Bandits steal the trophy from Nottingham’s Tax-a-Coin Profiteers or will the Hares’ Rival Racers leap ahead, securing a victory over Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centurions? In the final round, who will handle the plunge of victory  in the celebrated swirl of the grand flush?

Working the crowds, the City of Nottingham’s Tax-a-Coin Profiteers confiscate
ill-gained, game-watcher, tax revenues. Standing on the sidelines Sherwood Forest’s Merrily Heisting Bandits are cleaning up on their Up to the Tank, charity bowl donations.

Crashing stadium food stands, Hares’ hungry Rival Racers tank up; prior to, instead of during, this event. Dodging solar rays, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centurions shell up under stacked stadium seating.

Wrapping up this event’s charity donations, in an unprecedented, bowl-marked decision, Sherwood Forest’s Merrily Heisting Bandits have forfeited their place in this years Toilet Paper Roll Off. Rumors around the bowl indicate a now, unguarded, fair maiden’s kiss awaits their return.

Rolling up, minutes prior to the official roll off, two more event-plying teams submit their applications.

Announcers’ officially welcome the ever popular, yet controversial, Troll Bridge Goat Guzzlers, in blue, and the Fields of Green Butting Billies, in grey.

Tearing up this year’s fans, another, unprecedented, bowl-marked decision blares through stadium speakers. Pending an unanimous vote, the City of Nottingham’s Tax-a-Coin Profiteers have been disqualified due to illegal, bowl-taxing, revenue gains. Thus taking the competition back down from a five-ply to a four-ply event.

Horn’s blare, announcing the official roll off of this year’s, annual competition. Swirling into center field gush the Troll Bridge Goat Guzzlers and the Fields of Green Butting Billies. Dispensing with the traditional layers of protection and tubular roll-wear; saliva-leaking Troll Bridge Goat Guzzlers roll on single-ply bibs. Lowering their brows, bearing their horns, the Field of Green Butting Billies charge ahead. Horrified, referees plunge foreword, stopping-up premeditated rule violators. Disqualifying penalties officially flush the Troll Bridge Goat Guzzlers and the Field of Green Butting Billies out of this year’s Roll Off.

Once again horns blare. Announcers’ voices waver. Tanked tensions mount. Eyes narrow. Torso’s cringe. Above the bowls, Hares’ Rapid Racers lie tanked; overstuffed on ill-gotten, stadium’s, food stand’s, prepackaged cuisine. Below stadium seating Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centurions remain shelled and snoring. Crowds hiss. Ardent fans boo. Referees pace. More horns blare.

Startled, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centenarians jolt forward. Bleachers quake. Stadium seats wobble. Audience members topple. Screaming sirens on rescue vehicles stream in from the sidelines.

Spilling-out, onto the field, non-a-plyed, ardent fans put on roll-wears and layer on protection. Prepared, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centenarians mark their places on the playing field.

Horns blare. Crowds cheer. Announcers announce. Brushing-it-up, ardent fans take the plunge. Swirling onto the playing field, they tuber-ly roll through perforated, multi-ply-ed paper mounds, crest high on overflowing water basins and round out clogged pipe-ways. Team players skillfully dodge protruding bristles, low-flowing Terrestrial Centenarians and unseasoned, self-dispensing, ardent fans. Skidding into the final roll off, crowds seize. Announcers forget to breath. Barely a-ply between these two teams, announcers fear the worst. A non-tie breaking, duel flush could compost this year’s closing ceremonies.

Horns blare. Crowds cheer. Announcers’ voices boom. Victorious, winning by a splinter, ardent fans clean up and wrap up this year’s, annual, Toilet Paper Roll Off.

Wearing her aftermarket glass slippers, Cinderella’s legendary, fairy godmother wands in this year’s closing ceremonies. Horns blare. Crowds cheer. Announcers announce. Hurling onto the porta-podium, ardent fans enthusiastically accept the famed Golden Plunger Award.

Staked, packed and layered, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centenarians unite on the porcelain throne. Horns blare. Crowds cheer. Dropping her wand, Cinderella’s fairy god-mother pulls the handle. The toilet flushes. Toilet water swirls. Failing to make the bend, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centenarians clog closing ceremonies. They overflow surrounding drain pipes and purge local sewage systems.

No horns blare. No crowds cheer. No announcers announce. Cinderella’s fairy godmother is wiped out. Hares’ Rapid Racers run. Crowds stampede. Furious, ardent fans blow their lids. De-shelled and shivering, but no longer clogged or plugged; now retired, Tortoises’ Terrestrial Centurions withdraw from next year’s competition. Sponsors bail. Manufactures get it covered.

Tales of Tales
Robin Hood
Tortoise and the Hare
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Cinderella

Off the Roll Trivia
November 19 marks the World Toilet Day aimed at bringing awareness and inspired action to world sanitation issues.

An overflowing thanks goes to Sir John Harrington, in 1596, for inventing the first flushing lavatory! Fortunately for us, while folks in the mid-centuries put a thumbs down to the idea, folks living in the late 19th century loved it. They improved it and they institutionalized the use of it, giving it a double thumbs up.

Rolling ahead, in 1935, Northern Tissue advertised the first of its kind; splinter free tp.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story-Gize: A Spig of Meaning


 

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It hits. An idea emerges. Our bain cells salivate. Our creativity surges. Our imaginations soar.

OK, it’s been emphasized a million times over; the images of story guide and direct listeners to the location, the characters, and the adventures of its journey. Storytelling, being an interactive art form, connects its listeners and storytellers with the vivid imagery of story’s unfolding.

Specializing in the recording and the compartmentalization of information, our minds detail the stories and the ideas of our live’s fated and ill-fated escapades.  We use words to describe them. We use feelings to intensify them. Words, combined with emotions, add meaning and life to the images they describe.

So, what is the image of your idea or story . . . ?

An ostrich-legged cantaloupe spewing sunflower seeds from the top of an inchworm . . .

A family returns to the smoldering carcass of what they once called home . . .

A multi-legged, roving machine gobbles landfill rubbish, before transforming it into clean air, home heating units . . .

The image, or focal point, becomes the backdrop for the advancing parade of characters and their escapades. Story breathes reality and life to our ideas.

Let the images of an idea or story be your guide. See them walk, hear them talk and fly when trouble hits. Emerse your ideas and images with meaning; the reasons why; the justification who, what or how it happened; the excuses for their existence or the story of their reality. Fill them with emotion. Envision the possibilities. Then experience their reality.

Our story’s talk ignites the creativity which spurs the images of our ideas and stories into action.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!