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Improving Your Storytelling - A Review

by Fran Stallings

Improving Your Storytelling:
Beyond the Basics for All Who Tell Stories in Work or Play

by Doug Lipman.
August House Publications, Little Rock AR, 1999. ISBN 0-87483-530-5

We have reviewed other advanced how-to handbooks. Some authors analyze their own personal experience. Others pass along undigested advice gathered from many colleagues. Doug Lipman speaks not only from his own experience but also from his many years as a coach to myriad tellers nationwide.

Noted for his ability to bring out others' personal best, he can see many different ways to tell a story right. Now he shares his refreshing range of deep insights, and challenges us to find unfamiliar facets even in some very well-known tales which he uses in examples.

Lipman keeps reminding us that a storytelling event is never entirely in our control. He helps us understand the factors of setting, audience, and material which we can affect, with detailed analysis of voice, gesture, posture (body centers and muscular tension) and timing. He sees storytelling as a process of "transferring imagery" -- not just visual images, but including sensory and emotional images as well.

Through all this intense detail, Lipman keeps us steadily on course with some central concepts. Find the story's MIT (Most Important Thing). Decide if it is a "leaning forward" or "leaning back" story. Most important, decide if we are to be the Helper or the Beneficiary in any given storytelling event.

Although the book is full of suggestions for exercises and very practical remedies, it is more than a how-to manual. It teaches the aesthetic and moral principles we must understand in order to make our own informed decisions as responsible tellers. I recommend this book for all who have grasped the basics and are ready to go further.

--Fran Stallings

Reprinted from the Territorial Tattler (newsletter of Territory Tellers, Oklahoma's association of story listeners & tellers), Volume 15.



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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
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