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eTips from the Storytelling Coach - Number 9

What Are Stories Made Of?

August, 2001

eTips is a free, monthly electronic newsletter from Doug Lipman. You can subscribe, unsubscribe, or read a more detailed description of the newsletter at the eTips page. You can also read the other back issues.

Here is eTips from the Storytelling Coach #9: What Are Stories Made Of?

eTips is a monthly newsletter of storytelling tips, ideas, resources, and events, by Doug Lipman (to unsubscribe, see the end of this message). Please tell me what you think of this newsletter! Also, please share it with anyone you think might like it.

Contents

1) WHAT ARE STORIES MADE OF?
2) WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT: LEARNING TO BE A BETTER COACH
What goes on in this workshop? See the description at http://storydynamics.com/Services/Coaching/coach_coaches.html.
3) SPECIAL OFFER: A FEW MORE "CONFERENCE SPECIALS" LEFT.
For new deluxe subscribers to Storytelling Workshop in a Box[trademark]. Save $15.25 and get all four back issues! This offer is only for eTips subscribers, and only while supplies last. See below for details.
***NEWS TIDBIT: Pam McGrath's and my workshop, "Living Your Artistic Vision," was so successful that it's been scheduled two more times in the coming months - once in Georgia (January 17-20) and once in Pasadena, CA (March 14-17). More details next month!

1) WHAT ARE STORIES MADE OF?

Jerry (not his real name) came to one of my coaching sessions. He had prepared carefully. But when he told his story, the listeners found it hard to stay involved. The words made sense, but the story felt flat.

So (after appreciating the genuinely good things about his story and its structure), I got his permission to give him a suggestion. Then I asked him, "What are you thinking of, when you're telling?"

He said, "I'm thinking of the story!"

I said, "What does that mean you are actually thinking of?"

He said, "You know, I'm trying to remember the words."

I said, "I see. Don't tell me the story you learned. Just tell me what happened."

He told the same story, but not in its memorized form. He told it a little more hesitantly at first, but now we were involved in it! We sat a little more forward in our seats; we forgot about time passing. And Jerry became more animated in response - which made us even more captivated.

Jerry had made what is perhaps the most common storytelling mistake: to assume the story is made of words. The result: to memorize the words without thoroughly imagining what happens in the story.

In fact, stories are made of images (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile - any kind of images). Words (and postures, gestures, facial expressions, etc.) are just ways of communicating the images in your mind.

Just knowing this simple secret about storytelling improved Jerry's persuasiveness immediately. Once he began imagining the scenes in his stories as he told, his storytelling came alive.

SOLVING THE THREE MOST COMMON STORYTELLING PROBLEMS

When we tell stories well - easily and naturally - we are actually imagining what happens in the story ... and only then using words to describe what we are imagining. (Some tellers use the same words every time; others use different words every time. Either method can produce great results, as long as the words we speak are connected to our senses and our hearts.) This helps solve three potential problems.

1. Learning a story.

Once you know to rely on images, learning a story will become much easier. Instead of worrying about words, you will put your attention first on imagining. You will find it much easier to remember a sequence of several images (pictures, sounds, feelings, etc.) than to remember a sequence of several hundred words. The words matter, of course. But not nearly as much as what you see, feel or hear in your mind.

2. Telling your story.

It will also be easier to tell. As you speak, you'll be imagining what really happens in the story. This will put your attention on what you want to communicate, not on the mechanics of communication. Your natural expressiveness will have a better chance of emerging.

3. Remembering your story.

And you won't have to worry about forgetting. The image will be there. You might forget the exact descriptive word you want. Fine. Use another word. The images will be there when you need them, permanently etched in your mind. They are your guides, your solid ground.

More information about the process of "growing a story" - from first imaginings to polished performance - is in two of my publications:

2) WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT: LEARNING TO BE A BETTER COACH

Want to be a better coach? It looks like I will offer only one workshop this year that focuses on training coaches. It will be in Schenectady, NY, November 29-December 2, 2001. You'll have a chance to be coached by another participant - and I'll coach you on your coaching. Plus demonstrations and lots of questions and answers.

"Makes me a better listener, better communicator and better storyteller." - Fran Yardley, NY.

For more info., see the description at http://storydynamics.com/Services/Coaching/coach_coaches.html. Or contact Marni Gillard, .

3) SPECIAL OFFER: A FEW MORE "CONFERENCE SPECIALS" LEFT

Save $15.25 and get all the back issues of Storytelling Workshop in a Box!

I made a special package for the National Storytelling Conference in July. The idea was to offer the first four issues of Storytelling Workshop in a Box to new Deluxe members at a hefty discount. I came back from the conference with 18 copies left to sell.

Rather than dismantle the special compilations, I offered them to readers of this newsletter. Most are gone, but I have a few copies left!

Here's the deal: sign up as a new deluxe member of Storytelling Workshop in a Box http://storydynamics.com/Publications/Memberships/swb.html, and you can have the first four issues for a discounted price of $39.95 plus $4 shipping and handling. Your monthly subscription will start with issue number 5, so you won't have missed a single issue.

The free shipping offer has expired. But you can still save $15.25 over buying and shipping them separately. Once these last copies are gone, this special will be gone forever. As always, you can cancel your membership at any time.

(Note: This private offer is not listed on my web site. To get this special price, sign up for a Deluxe Membership. Then, in the "comments" column, write something like "Conference Special." Elaine will email you a confirmation before she ships anything.)

All the best,
Doug

P. S., Email me for one or all of these, or view them on the web:

Living Your Artistic Vision workshop:
http://storydynamics.com/Services/Workshops/artistic.html
Article on Coaching Coaches workshop:
http://storydynamics.com/Services/Coaching/coach_coaches.html
To join the Storytelling Workshop In a Box:
http://www.storydynamics.com/swborder
On-line workshop registration:
https://secure.storydynamics.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=22

(To unsubscribe to this newsletter, just email me your request. No special format is needed, because a person will read your message, not a machine!)

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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
Copyright©2001 Doug Lipman