A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

Things to Remember in Storytelling

If you wish to become a storyteller for the Master, then you must get into the yoke with Him and walk in step.  In that way your stories will receive His stamp of excellence, and He will never allow the “leavening of the Pharisees” to kill the joy that he wants to give. 


               1. Get in, get it over with, and get out!  It is vital that the very essence of meaning is what is conveyed, meaning that you will boil a story down, in preparing it, to just that.  An economy of words is what Jesus used.  Please study the gospel accounts again and again.  That means study.  Look at every aspect of these parables using good commentaries, Bible dictionary, Bible Atlas, and any other study helps.  These are available in the church library.  The best principles of good storytelling are illustrated in the parables of Jesus. One of the most important of these principles is brevity.  

I am practicing what I preach, for I am giving you here the results of years of study, going out to audiences of all ilks, teaching for several years.  As God measures Time moments are the stuff of eternity. Each one as it it ticked off may weigh heavily in the final analysis.   I am being given a chance to prove that choosing the right words in telling your story, is of the essence.  The core or germ of truth is what you need.

To find that essence, study and analyze then cast away into nether darkness all redundant, all rambling; all voluble, motor-mouthed; digressive and tautological phrasing. That sentence illustrates what is meant by unnecessary words. Just wanted to show you, in case you did not know! 

              2. Naturally, the choice of story is vital.  We want fast action– a creative plot.

             3.  Characters:   In a story, they cannot be in-depth portrayals, but there are the types.  These that are easily recognized in most folk and fairy tales:  The beautiful princess.  Her beauty is always unbelievable. There is the foolish son, or younger brother.  He is portrayed as almost simple-minded.  Thewicked giant causes all sorts of problems, or the wise old woman shows the way.  Then there is the clever peasant.  The character of the one who wins out in the end will be possession of such traits as kindness, cleverness, generosity, willing to learn, etc.  Good is good and evil is evil.  One recognizes them at once. One wins, the other loses, or as I always like to say, gets his come-uppance.    I also like he old adage,the wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceeding small. Therefore, in the fairy or folk story, good always triumphs over evil. Justice will prevail.

            4. Body of story:  Important ways of looking at life are shown here.  We are informed that stories have messages in them for the conscious, unconscious, pre-conscious mind.  Bettelheim says, “They offer new dimensions to the child’s imagination.”  Of course, as Christians, we insert the world-view of the Christian, and so our choice of words becomes literally the difference between life and death for eternity for some listeners!

             5. The ending need not be happy every timebut wrap up details. Numerous endings are good and the teller is free to choose among them for one that suits the tale being told, or to compose a new one that winds things up perfectly in that particular story.  It must be satisfying.  So “and they all lived happily every after.” is just right for some stories, but not appropriate for others.  I know a teller who ends her stories  “And that’s all there is to that story.” In my experience I find that, while I may use the “spit-spot-spout, this tale’s told out!” type of ending for some, I like to suit an ending that I feel is more satisfying and winds things up in a better fashion for others.  I might say something like, “But—as for those other brothers, why–whatever happened to them?  Nobody knows!!!”

             6. Telling:  Telling the story, while it may sound simple and easy, just flowing like water out of the mouth of the teller has required numerous retellings at home to give just the right emphasis to certain words.  Various words have been tried at this or that point to convey certain meanings; many rehearsals of the inflection and enunciation have taken place!   The audience lends a special magic to the storytelling, and when everything is just right, it becomes an unforgettable experience.  As I like to say, it actually breathes.  It has flesh and blood now.  As such, it makes an indelible impression on the spirit of the listener.

Leave a Reply

nine − 5 =