So You Want to Be a Storyteller?

Really? Even if people won’t want to date you ever again for fear that you’ll one day talk about them on stage? You’re sure?

Okay. Welcome aboard.

Here’s a cheap glass of wine. Where we’re going, you’ll need it.

I’ve got to tell you – I think you’ve picked a great time to get into the story game. I mean, with the success of storytelling podcasts like The Moth, RISK!, Definitely Not the Opera, Snap Judgement and This American Life millions of people are now aware of the phenomenon of modern storytelling. Just about every city in North America now has a regular storytelling event, and there seems to be more opportunities for storytellers than ever before. For raconteurs like us, the getting has never been good-er.

But before you start speaking your heart into the crackly microphone at the local roti place’s storytelling event (at which no one is there to actually hear stories [they’re just there for the roti]), there’s a few things we need to talk about.

Firstly: Storytelling is magic. It is capable of changing people’s lives in a way that few other forms of expression can. A well-told story will make a room laugh as one, cry as one, breathe as one. It can bring people together in a way that almost nothing else can. It is truly a special thing.

Alternately, storytelling is also capable of being the fucking worst.

Being held captive by a terrible, meandering, long-winded, self-indulgent piece of shit story is worse than anything imaginable. When a bad storyteller is at the mic spinning their self-satisfied yarn, weaving in and out of tangents that lead nowhere, there is nothing more painful to sit through. Your blood pressure rises. Your eyes roll so far back they might never come back.  You’re stuck in your seat helplessly longing for a happier time – like the time you were on hold with your cellphone provider and a knife hit you in the eyeball.  You’re a hostage! You’re THIS GUY!

And unfortunately, pretty much every storytelling event will have at least one hostage-taking situation a night (if we’re lucky), and I don’t want you to ever be the one at the microphone when it happens. 

That’s why I’m here to help.

When you tell a story onstage at your next live event, I want you to crush it. And if you let this advice sink in, I promise that you will.

1) If you’re running long, you’d better be KILLING, buddy.

Thing I’ve never thought after a story: “I wish that story went longer

All storytelling events have time limits. Most are 10 minutes. And I’m telling you, if you’re going to be a storyteller, keeping your stories within the time limit is the single most important thing you can do when you are starting out. Because it will make the producers trust you and like you and want to invite you back. Not only that, but learning how to make the required cuts will make you a better writer, it will make the audience more comfortable and your story will be WAY stronger. Trust me. The worst stories are ALWAYS the longest. ALWAYS. Because who tells a story that goes way over the time-limit? Someone who doesn’t think our time is valuable. Time it. TIME IT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TIME IT. I would rather sit through a 10-minute piece of shit than listen to a middling story that runs 5 minutes over the limit. Because the 10-minute story had more respect for its audience.

2) Outline.

You don’t need to write out the whole story, but you do need to have a road map. Some of my favourite storytellers like Martin Dockery and Peter Aguero don’t write down their stories at all because they are freaks of nature. BUT! That doesn’t mean that they don’t know exactly where they’re taking us. Know your structure. Know where and why and for how long you’re taking us. Basic story structure is a beautiful thing.

  1. SET THE SCENE
  2. INCITE INCIDENT
  3. RAISE THE STAKES
  4. CLIMAX
  5. DENOUEMENT

Know exactly what your story is about. Then, get your Michelangelo on, and chisel away everything that isn’t David.

3) Punch it up. 

There’s always a more unique and interesting way of saying things.

How happy were you that week?

“When I walked down the street that week, my gait looked like end-zone dance.”

How did you feel when you told her that you loved her for the first time?

“Vulnerable. Like I was bungee-jumping naked over shark-infested waters while being broadcast live on TMZ.”

Find a way of saying things that no other human except you would come up with. Be a snowflake who marches to the beat of your own synth.

4) That opening sentence or two is crucial.

Get us! Grab us! Right now! As soon as possible – and by whatever means necessary. Whether by using a joke or a cryptic hint or a surprise or by simply taking us to the opening scene as quickly as possible. Have an opening line that makes us put down our phones and lean in.

You might not suspect from looking at me, but I lead a double life.”

Every family has secrets. In my family, the secret was me.”

It was one of those breakups where all of your stuff ends up in trash bags and you have 5 minutes to find a new apartment and once you do, the last thing you want to do is unpack those trash bags because they contain a lot of raw emotion.”

5) Oh, there’s a moral? Yeah. We know.

I’ve seen so many storytellers totally stick the landing on the climax, but then instead of winking at the judges and walking away triumphantly, they will inexplicably start ham-fisting their way through the moral(s) of the story. Dude! You were so close!

Tying a nice bow to the end of the story can sometimes be the exact right thing to do. But if you do, just keep it clean, concise, and make sure you’re giving us something that we haven’t already deduced on our own.

Remember:

  • Storytelling audiences are the smartest. They get it.
  • Different people will take different things away from your story – and that’s okay. Don’t tell them what to take away because all stories are about multiple things.

Remember at the end of Full House when Uncle Jesse and Uncle Joey would sit next to Michelle on the bed as the cheesy music swelled and they’d teach her about all the life lessons she’d learned from the episode we just watched? Don’t do that.

Just give Kimmy Gibbler one last zinger and hit the music.

6) Don’t get hung up on the theme.

Lots of storytelling events have a monthly theme. I always love reading what the upcoming themes are because very often a theme will dislodge a long-forgotten story from the back of my brain. “Oh yeah. I DO have a story about GARBAGE.

The unfortunate side-effect of themed events is that lots of storytellers feel the need to explain to us in excruciating detail why their story is appropriate for the theme. Or they’ll tell us the story of how they decided which story to tell us, “When I first heard that the theme this week was Freedom, I thought of blank, blank and blank.”  JUST TELL US THE STORY!

The theme will be a dot and your story will be a dot and then we’ll connect them with our minds.

7) Sometimes it’s too soon.

I’m guilty of making this mistake before. All of my favourite stories are always ones of pain and finding the light in life’s darker moments. Sometimes as a storyteller, we’ll be going through something very challenging and will want to take it to the stage – like losing a loved one or having our heart broken or surviving a trauma. If you’re taking it to the stage, though, remember: It’s very difficult to paint a picture of a whale when you’re still trapped in its belly.  Make sure you’re in a solid emotional place and you’re recollecting from a safe distance if you’re talking about the tough stuff. A good rule:

If you’re not ready to laugh about it, then we’re not ready to be sad about it.

8) Keep it fresh.

One of the biggest challenges of being a storyteller or comedian is that you have to take this thing that you’ve obsessed over, written down, rehearsed, outlined, said hundreds of times and then make it seem spontaneous and off-the-cuff every night. One trick that I find helpful when I’m running a story alone or with a friend is that I’ll challenge myself to tell the same story using slightly different language each time. Sprinkle in a few moments where you have to grasp for the words. Have a different way of describing the smell of the car every time. Set some booby traps for yourself along the way so that you’re forced to think on your feet in the present moment.

Sometimes when I’m trying to find the 20th new way to describe the smell of the car, is when I’ll find the perfect one and keep it.

9) “Look ’em in the eye and speak from the heart.” -Louis CK

Storytelling has one gimmick: Heart. Use yours.

Be vulnerable with us.

10) Become a story aficionado.

Thousands of the best stories you’ve ever heard in your life are available. FOR FREE. RIGHT NOW. The Moth storytelling archives are staggeringly good. Listen to: This American Life, DNTO, RISK! and Snap Judgement. They’re all free. FREE!  Listen to as many as you can.  Listen to brilliant storytellers like Mike Birbiglia and Tig Notaro and Elna Baker and Adam Wade. Dismantle their stories. Why was this one so effective, and this one not so much?

Become a student of the game.

11) Pet peeves and things to avoid.

My friend Peter Aguero has hosted his fair share of story events in New York and has probably heard more live stories than anyone I know. So I asked him for some of the things that irk him as a listener. Here’s what he said:

I don’t like when someone strings together a series of representative anecdotes to make a point in trying to tell their whole life story in 10 minutes. Everything ends up on the surface and there’s no detail. They end up not telling us ten stories instead of telling one.

I cringe at the phrase “…and in that moment, I realized…” – I don’t know why, I just hate it.

I don’t like when people say, “if you’re not familiar with (whatever), it’s (explanation). Just explain it or don’t. Asking rhetorical questions reminds the listener that they’re listening to a story. It takes me out of it. You were going to explain it anyway, just explain the thing

True dat.

To add to Peter’s list, here are a few of my own:

Defining words in a reading-from-the-dictionary-type fashion makes us feel like we’re at a commencement address or like the bride’s childhood best friend is at the mic. Steer clear.

Soapboxing is the worst. We’re here for stories, not to hear you plagiarize a conspiracy theory website.

The microphone is your friend. Talk into it. If your voice sounds loud, that’s good – it means it’s working.

Know how to ride a laugh. Let the whole laugh happen before you continue. You’re doing great.

Never start by saying “My story is…” or end with “That’s my story”.

12) Some tips from the PROS.

I asked a few of my most accomplished story buds for wisdom that they’d like to pass on to storytellers who are just starting out. Here’s what they said:

Kevin Allison; Creator/Host of RISK! Podcast

Zero in on an especially emotional moment you had and begin to reconstruct what you recall seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling.

TJ Dawe; Legendary Canadian Monologuist

Make your story specific. You might want to make it general, so that people will relate to it. Strangely enough, the more grounded it is in the specifics of your life, the more universal it will become. 
 
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Your weaknesses, your failures, your sillinesses, your anxieties, your contradictions, your self-sabotage – this is the stuff of good stories. 
 
If your natural conversational rhythm is fast, pauses are your friend. And vice versa. 
 

Be willing to cut a good line, or a good paragraph, or a good story altogether, if it isn’t working, or if it doesn’t add to the whole. The fact that you wrote it, and that it was hard to write isn’t justification enough to keep something. You’re not in this to avoid work. 

Watch and listen to the audience. You’ll learn from every audience. Their laughter will cue you. Their silence in dramatic parts will cue you. Their restlessness and inattention will cue you. A good solo performance isn’t a monologue, it’s a conversation with the audience. 
 
Notice which incidents in your life you keep thinking about, or telling friends about. There’s probably something there that reflects what you’re going through now. 
Use contractions when you write. Don’t dress up your sentences in Sunday clothes. Talk the way you normally talk. 
 
Have a specific person in mind when you create. Develop your material with that one person in mind. It could be a friend. It could be your partner. It could be someone you wish was your partner. It could be one of your parents. It could be you. It could be a younger version of you who might have needed to hear this. People can be fabulously expressive in an email, because they know exactly who they’re talking to, and they calibrate their vocabulary and sense of humour and references to that person. And they often become vague and general and clunky when trying to write something for an audience of everyone in the world. 

James Gangl; Canadian Comedy Award-Winner; Moth StorySLAM Champion

Write as if no one will ever read your work. When I write like this, I stop worrying about my work being good or bad; I just write. I go for quantity over quality. I like to write fast, write forward and I don’t look back until my first draft is done. Quality will come in the edit.

Write stuff that you plan on burning later. When I hit upon a subject that scares the shit out of me, then I know I have something worthy of writing. Write stuff that scares you… that’s where the gold lies.

Tell the story as if you’re speaking to your friend in a bar. No pretention. No gimmicks. The simplest way from point A to B will become the bones of your piece. The rest is just window dressing and if you have a good enough story it will support all kinds of fun dressing.

Martin Dockery; Award-winning monologuist, Moth Mainstage Performer

Just to get up on stage and do it. And do it as often as possible. It’s the only way to get a sense of how to tell a story, how to find your authentic voice, how to judge pace, timing, and impact. Every single time I’m on stage I learn something, even now, more than a decade into doing it.

***

And that’s it. That’s pretty much all the wisdom I (and my story buds) can think of.

And y’know what?

You’re going to be great.

Lucky for us, storytelling audiences are the warmest, kindest, best-est audiences of them all. They came to listen. To you. You don’t have to fight to get them or win them over or trick them into listening to you. They’re already on your side as soon as you walk up to the microphone. You have their undivided attention.

Don’t waste it.

Sam Mullins Show Image

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399 thoughts on “So You Want to Be a Storyteller?

  1. Nice blog! Even though it’s really hard writing and sharing your soul, the best feeling is when someone you never met comes out to a show and tells you that your story affected them in some way.

  2. Great post! Have to admit I’ve been guilty of a few of these in the past. Thanks for compiling this. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.

  3. Great post! You make really strong points here. Can I add a couple more?

    When I first started telling personal stories (as opposed to stories from books or folktales), other storytellers told me “If you’re doing therapy on stage, you should be paying the audience.” Do your emotional work before you bring the story to the stage. You don’t want the audience feeling like they should take care of you.

    Also, beware of physical noise, that is, the umms, and uhhs, the pacing and gestures that don’t add to the story. You don’t need to pace. I know, stand up comedians do all the time. Can the audience see you if you stand in one place? Yes. If you have some specific and compelling reason to pace, okay. Otherwise, it’s just distracting as are unnecessary gestures and verbal tics.

    I’ve been making my living as a storyteller for more than two decades. It is the most fun and the most challenging life I could ever have imagined. It’s wonderful to see storytelling getting more and more popular. Thanks for writing this!

  4. It’s like you read my mind… The title was literally a question which I felt was directed at me! Great timing, and very helpful post. I especially agree about the point of being stuck on a bad story – it’s hard to tell if your idea is a bright golden one, or just a pale yellow one!

  5. Damn, I need to just scrap my blog and start over. Every single post in my blog is a novel. I’m going to bookmark this page and come back when it’s not 2am so I can be clear headed and really absorb the wisdom you shared. I Found you on Freshly Pressed. Glad I did! I’m just joking about scrapping my previous posts, but they sure will get a heavy handed editing!

  6. Reblogged this on Fivefeetmusings and commented:
    Fun read of the week.

    Storyteller, writer, journalist, reporter: more similar than not?

    Majoring in journalism in college, I never saw myself as a writer and tried very hard to differentiate myself as a reporter from a writer.
    But at the end of the day, it really is all about keeping it clear and concise, isn’t it?

  7. I learned the hard way about telling stories for my father’s eulogy nearly 1 wk. ago: don’t tell too many stories and yes 10 min. limit on whole eulogy.

    And always pitch your voice louder so everyone can hear you.

  8. Reblogged this on Come Ahead and commented:
    I love to hear and watch story tellers, and I believe, this one will open your mind that story teller is not an easy thing to do 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on Blog Without A Topic and commented:
    I opened this article because of the title. I thought “Yes. I want to be a storyteller. Heck, I already AM a storyteller… I’m a writer!” What I found in this article was not at all what I expected. I wasn’t aware of this open-mic, storytelling culture of which the author speaks. This article made me want to find out about it, though. Is there any in my area? I want to get involved and see this magic happen!

    In regards to storytelling, however, a lot of this advice is just generally good advice for storytellers of any kind, regardless of the medium.

  10. hmm and hmm again. Lots to think about here. I’ve just started my 2nd blog because I wanted a place to put all the things that wouldn’t work on my first one. learning to let your mind free and write the way you think and not choke, is like learning how to sing and not pull yourself back and consequently strain your vocal cords. I will reblog this so it will be in an easy place for me to find again.

  11. Reblogged this on Watch and Whirl and commented:
    I love the written word. I like to play with and then play with it again. I like to see how I can say the same thing in different ways. Then, when I think I have it the way I want it I go back and rewrite it again.

    I know of someone who wants to write a book and has spent a lot of time researching and writing. I have no idea if it’s any good because she would never let me read it, even though I asked her many times. I think it’s because she doubts her abilities. If she doubts it how could I think anything different? I think that her fear of having other people read it and not like it will keep her from finishing it. I’ll bet she’d say I’m wrong, that she just hasn’t had the time, but I think if she really wanted to write it, she would.

    But maybe that’s just me and I can’t expect her to do things the way I would. I have always been a “jump in feet first” kind of person. If someone doesn’t like what I’m doing then they shouldn’t watch me do it. Things don’t stop me because of fear of failure, or because I think people won’t like it. I have patience and I keep chipping away at things until I’m done. Maybe only my great great great grandchildren will read this after I’m dead, and I’m okay with that.

  12. “You’re going to be great.

    Lucky for us, storytelling audiences are the warmest, kindest, best-est audiences of them all. They came to listen. To you. You don’t have to fight to get them or win them over or trick them into listening to you. They’re already on your side as soon as you walk up to the microphone. You have their undivided attention.

    Don’t waste it.”

    The assurance I need! Thank you for this.Your blog is a gift! 🙂

  13. This is great advice! I used to have the knack of telling a story and keeping all of my points on track. Over time though I find myself having a hard time sticking to one topic and it all ends up a big confusing jumble. I’m definitely going to take this advice to heart and start working more serious towards being the storyteller I once was. Happy I stumbled across this, thank you so much!

  14. I’ve always been a storyteller, but I’ve been getting stuck more times than not lately. This post definitely helped remind me why I love telling stories and why I need to keep working on my blog. Thank you for the inspiration!

  15. Pingback: Go Viral | MiPeB ~
  16. I’m very interested in storyteller.. i wanna be a story teller, i hope u can help me as much as you can.. now, i’m starting to share the story of my life.. i hope u interested in reading it and u can correct it the language style if there was incorrect.. thank u..

  17. Good advice Sir, thank you. I’m new to blogging and indeed storytelling but I have a feeling in my gut I have stories to tell. Your words have given me some confidence and encouragement.

  18. My favorite high school teacher taught me that everyone has a story waiting to be told – we all share a common fabric but sometimes it is hard to find the thread. Telling those stories can be a difficult but enriching challenge. Please keep talking and telling and sharing. Thank you

  19. Reblogged this on Shawn L. Bird and commented:
    I really like what he has to say, and while I don’t tell stories on stage, I do write stories, and I do try to get kids to do the same, so I’m re-blogging this collection of tips. Besides, I want to be able to find this later. 🙂

  20. Thank you buddy. Well, even though I’m a writer, your post on Storytelling helped me a lot. I could associate all your advice to writing. Wonderfully written and conveyed. Thank you so much.
    Your post helped me! Happy reading.

  21. I very much appreciate the addition of “Pet Peeves” – as I too abhor “If you’re not familiar with [something that makes me sounds super smart, and you a complete idiot dear listener], than….” I have trouble sticking the landing of the story when it is a story I’m so familiar with that I end up fast forwarding through the details that led to the denouement. It’s always good to keep practicing.

  22. “Pace, timing, and impact”— these criteria actually make up a significant portion of the overall quality of a storyteller, even though the story may not be very much interesting. 😤

  23. Reblogged this on tonguepaintings and commented:
    I came across this wonderful post on storytelling that I think applies equally to writing fiction. If you find it helpful or have questions about craft in general (my process or obstacles you’re trying to conquer in your process), please leave a comment.

  24. Great post! I’m no comedian myself, but I tend to visit our local places here in Vancouver. And sometimes it is a horrifying experience. It is often the well known comedians who tend to make their stories too long, their jokes too stupid, and their experiences too exaggerated. I rather prefer the younger ones, who try to bring something new, while being able to maintain the flow between them and the public. Without the public, you are nothing. That is the biggest truth.

  25. “Be willing to cut a good line, or a good paragraph, or a good story altogether, if it isn’t working, or if it doesn’t add to the whole. The fact that you wrote it, and that it was hard to write isn’t justification enough to keep something. You’re not in this to avoid work. ”

    DANG. Yeah, that hits home for me. Thanks for the solid advice!

  26. I fear you lost me at “The worst stories are ALWAYS the longest. ALWAYS.” They are if you are a Westerner who speaks only English.

    When you are surrounded by other cultures as we are Toronto (New Yorkers and Londoners and others can say the same) maintaining the the 10 minute mantra of a young storytelling hipster doesn’t cut it.

    As a storyteller myself I have seen too many tale tellers take too much time trying to “kill” in that 10 minutes. It’s painful. I want to hear a story. 10 minutes is not much more than an anecdote to my mind.

    Personally I await opportunities to hear the Shahnameh (Persian book of kings) , or the story of Rama and Sita… hell, give me the Iliad for crying out loud. Love, war and a spear in the eye will keep my attention.

    10 minutes? Meh.

  27. Is it weird that I didn’t know storytelling was a “thing?” I thought this was going to be about fiction writing. Kind of reminds me of the Japanese art of rakugo.

    Glad I learned about it, thanks for sharing, it was an entertaining and educational read.

    I disagree with your friend only on one point. He said “I don’t like when people say, “if you’re not familiar with (whatever), it’s (explanation). Just explain it or don’t. Asking rhetorical questions reminds the listener that they’re listening to a story. It takes me out of it. You were going to explain it anyway, just explain the thing.”

    Maybe I’m weird, but I like when they do that. Because without it, if I do know, then I feel a little bit like I’m being talked down to.

  28. Wow thay was….great. I have a lot of editing to do to my past stories. An this really helps me out. Thanks. Glad to kow there are other people who also like stories. Writting and telling them. Lots of stories to write now

  29. For the most part, I think that only the written word is for me. The written word doesn’t get mangled by my inattentive mind forgetting the poignant words, and the reader will never know how long I paused there, staring into space, trying to remember the word ‘poignant’ (actually this time it came right to me but you get my meaning). Perhaps it could give my story life if I sit there and snap with “what’s the word…” but I don’t tend to think of the word very quickly so it just wouldn’t do. I also can’t get tangled and dyslexic in writing, and if I mess it up, it’s easy to fix.

    But then sometimes I think I really would like to tell live stories, too. And while I mostly know how to tell a story to a friend, I become intimidated if I tell a story to an audience. I can do a presentation if I outlined it, so why not a story? Because I’m a rambling kind of person who would probably be distracted by tertiary tales even if I didn’t have a bad case of ADD, that’s why. So it’s intimidating. But I appreciate all this advice. Gives me a little more courage to try some time, and a better idea of what to do – ‘course if I ever do decide I want to try, I’ll want to listen a lot more than I have first.

  30. I’ve always loved a good story – especially a true one – and I’ve secretly kind of wanted to be a storyteller (the way I’ve secretly wanted to learn to play the cello) ever since college, when I met a storyteller at a coffee house. I had never heard of such a thing – and I haven’t seen such a thing since. So today I am delighted to have found your blog and I am thrilled to learn that there might be storytelling events in my city. I’ll be googling. Please, please, please. Thank you for this mother lode of tips, which I will now bookmark.

  31. Reblogged this on Lost soul no more and commented:
    This has been my greatest insecurity. I’m a bad story-teller; boring, discontinuous, inconsistent, always out-of-words. I tried, but I just looked stupid.

    Thank you for this Mr. Mullins! I find this very useful, and I’m eager to try it out.

  32. This is true for me lol it makes me laugh knowing they fear that. Sometimes these people do inspire my written work. Most often not.

  33. resonation x 100. I think you nailed the art of the raconteur right on my shameful wall of pseudo-storytelling. you changed the feng shui of my entire anecdotal living room. sheesh. this is rich. thanks.

  34. These are some of the best storytelling tips I’ve come across. . Will be needing them as I test the waters of narrative non-fiction. Thanks. It came in very handy.

  35. I honestly never knew there were storytelling events. Never heard of them. But I like the sound of it. Feels like a more personal world, like before the television invaded our homes. In fact, it feels like centuries before that, when people would gather around a fire. Great read. It’s something I’d very much like to watch, as well as perhaps participate in.

  36. There was something I wanted to comment on yesterday, and that was that this excerpt ‘…get your Michelangelo on, and chisel away everything that isn’t David.’. It’s a small, simple sentence within a sea of words, but for me, it stood out more than any other. So much so that I woke up this morning realising that I’d not mentioned it.

  37. Hi there! I was looking for interesting post and the search results of wordpress which led me to you, and I am so happy I found your “blog about anything”!!! It’s a great well-written post!
    but what amazed me even more was the fact you have about 1000+ likes! how did you do it? I would love to read a post about that!
    and one more think about storytelling: I am an art student and a writer myself. I think the best book for storytellers is “STORY” by Robert McKee. He present a wonderful, successful method for script- writing, but it works for any kind of story telling.
    Keep up the good work and write, about anything!
    Best wishes, Ayeh.

  38. This post was absolutely brilliant! I’m just starting my blog and I’ve thought about including some stories, but didn’t really know how to go about it. Now I’ve got a better idea as to how I should tackle the situation and really make my stories something the reader would find worth reading. Thanks for all of the tips!

  39. Thank you very much.I am a Chinese young fresh writter and your advise would give me quite an effective way to improve my writing.Even it is writing,a storyteller at the same time.

  40. Thank you so much. What a great read, I am horrible when it comes to storytelling, and my english is average. But I am eager to improve myself enormously this year, especially in this area. Amazing tips and encouragement.
    Thank you once again, keep inspiring people.
    -Briane R

  41. Great post! I think i am pretty damn funny myself, but I don’t know if others will think i am funny. Alot of my humor comes from facial reactions and hand gestures. That is really, really hard to do in writing…so I am just going to write. Even if i have to rewrite my story 3 times. I think i eventually will get a good balance of funny and story. At least that is the plan…

  42. excellent advice! I try to keep it short and sweet because a) I don’t want to bore and b) I don’t have a lot of time.

    Would you mind taking a peek at my blog, justablurb.wordpress.com

  43. Thank you for this! It helps me immensely. I am not gonna lie… I am now extremely attracted to you (Is it wrong to be turned on by age old wisdom and practical advice?). So, I love you now, just so you know. But it’s okay if you want to just be friends; I am cool with keeping it casual. Okay, jokes aside, all honesty, your words really have helped me. I am the person who keeps showing up to storytelling events, prepared to share a story that’s ready to be told, but then I convince myself that I am not the person to tell it. I get lost on my way to the stage. I get stuck on mute. It’s pathetic. I’m lame. But at least, I am not alone. I know you’re up there doing it, killin’ it probably, AND you care enough about stories to help the rest of us tell good ones. Thanks for that!

  44. This is a wonderful list, especially the points about writing as if nobody is going to read your story, and the five key elements of an excellent story. Writing as if there will be no audience takes away a great deal of pressure. Every great story incites argument, controversy, sudden twists or unexpected conflict, rising to a breaking point.

    Thank you for the tips!

  45. Great post! I’m going to show this to my husband who has so many great stories from living a very unique life but he does a lot of the “no-no’s” quite a lot. He may see himself in here and remember when he’s off on another story.

  46. This is one of those very rare advice posts that is actually quite helpful. When it comes to park and bark monologuing I’m a mess. The writing part isn’t so bad, but the speaking part is always a stuttering mess unless I take these weird awkward pauses and swear excessively. It ind of works out, though. People think it’s a quirky stylistic thing. Anyway – thanks for sharing!

  47. What a great blog!! I’m just now starting my own blog on my fitness journey and its scary posting my pictures and how bad some of my days might be but this definitely has helped me feel more open about sharing my journey! Thank you!

  48. Much of this is helpful advice for blog writing as well. Actually excellent advice for many of life’s situations. Think I’ll go back and read it again. I know there’s some stuff I need to clean up.

  49. Great read! I especially liked that advice to make your story specific in order to connect more with people. I have never thought of it that way before. It is tempting to try to broaden the story…but the emotions are held captive through the details and connection to your own life. great stuff, thanks!

  50. A good story is magic! And a story told in this way can enlighten so many people! What a great list of how to and what not to do. We all need more imagination in our lives, and the presence of a story teller with that spark is a real gem. Great post, and thank you!

  51. This is some great advice! I’m having problems with writing and story telling at the moment, and these are some great tips, as well as inspiration, for improving. Thanks!

  52. These are great tips–especially the “if you’re running long, you better be killing, buddy.” What is it about a captive audience that makes some people feel the need to tell the minutiae of their life stories? Also, The Moth is such an amazing podcast; I second that recommendation. For more fun with storytelling, both in photo and literary form, check out aliteralinterpretation.wordpress.com. I think you’ll like it!

  53. I am terrified of speaking infront of an audience. I just suddenly go blank. The outline and sequence of what I planned to say just disappears? Any advice on what I can do about that?

  54. This was one heck of a relate-able and love-able articles out there.
    Awesome pointers simplified to the most entertaining fashion

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