How does one tell a great story? Being a better storyteller takes some practice, but it’s easy, and fun, once you get the hang of it.
Learn to twist old stories into new ones
Have you ever had one of those moments when the realization hits you that none of your stories are original? It’s true, to a point. All stories have the same basic elements to them when you look at them from their foundations. New characters and settings and relationships make new stories, but sometimes borrowing from familiar tales and adapting them is also an effective, and entertaining, method.
Think of all the Disney movies you love. Those are all adaptions of fairytales and older stories. Many of those adaptions have since been adapted again … and again, and again (like, we love Peter Pan, but seriously). It’s okay to get creative and put a new twist on a story that has already been told. Audiences love it. They want to be able to identify similarities to the stories they already know and also marvel at the new elements you bring into it.
Focus more on your audience, and less on yourself
Sometimes we tell stories because we need to send a message we wish we would have heard previously. Stories help us cope with things we have been or are going through, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. However, we can’t keep the focus primarily on ourselves all the time. If stories were just for us, always, maybe it wouldn’t matter. But if you’re reading this post, it’s likely you don’t intend to write stories only you will read.
It’s fine, even wise, to start out by telling a story for your own benefit. We tell some of our best stories when they resonate with situations we understand. But always remember that you aren’t the only one who might be reading it. Always think of your audience. How will they benefit from the messages your story is sending? What do they need to hear? Is there a need that’s being satisfied? Create a checklist in your head and make sure you and your audience both are going to get something valuable out of it.
Exaggerate, but make it believable
Good stories are dramatic. They take seemingly normal events and exaggerate them in order to make them more entertaining. While stories often serve as a way for readers to step out of their normal everyday lives for a little while, they must also be relatable. There still has to be some truth in there somewhere. Something that makes a reader or listener or viewer go, “Ha! So true!”
Think of something that’s happened in your own life recently. Now imagine how, if you would have been in control of that series of events as a storyteller, you would have ‘told it better.’ We all exaggerate when we tell our own stories anyway (you know you’ve done it). Do the same thing when you’re writing.
So let’s practice, shall we? Tell us a brief story in the comments. A few sentences or a paragraph. Have fun with it. :)
Image courtesy of Flickr.