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eTips from the Storytelling Coach - Number 3

New Themes from Old Tales, Finding the Sacred in Stories

January, 2001

eTips is a free 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.


1) Report on the Value Telling workshop.
Free article:
2) Workshop announcement: Finding the Sacred in Stories.
Full description:
3) Workshop announcement: Creating Stories.
4) Workshop announcement: Hope: A Storytelling Workshop
Details of these two workshops:
News tidbit: Workshops may have become a little easier to attend. I've been approved to accept Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.

1) Report on the Value Telling workshop

In eTips #1 (October, 2000), I described the November workshop on Value Telling. Several people have emailed me to ask how it went.

It was exciting! The folks who attended were from all walks of life, from government tourism to non-profits, to a multi-media start-up company. They brought a diverse menu of values they wanted to explore in story form.

The process worked! All the participants were able to articulate and explore a value that they wanted to convey through stories. And they all left with stories they had developed that weekend.

I was impressed with the variety of methods they used to create their stories. In the course of the weekend, everyone had a chance to

  1. look for personal stories,
  2. create a story from spontaneous images, and
  3. adapt a traditional story.
Each person then chose one of their "first draft" stories to develop further. Some chose their personal tale, some chose the tale they made up by following an image, and - to my surprise - an equal number chose the story they made from the model of a traditional tale.

If you want to know more about the process folks used for adapting folk tales, I wrote an article about it, "New Themes from Old Tales." Just email me for a copy or click on read it on the web.

Also, three upcoming workshops will use some of these processes. Two are in California in March (Finding the Sacred in Stories and "Creating Stories"). The third will be in Connecticut in May ("Hope: A Storytelling Workshop.")

2) Workshop announcement: Finding the Sacred in Stories

The issue of telling stories to convey values - especially spiritual values - is a complex one. Too many of us have painful experiences of being "told at" in our childhood. As tellers, then, we may respond by becoming adamant about giving our audiences every chance to make their own decisions. At the other extreme, many of us are in situations (in workplaces or elsewhere) where we feel constant pressure to articulate the relevance of our stories. Our listeners demand, "What's the point? Just tell me what you want me to know!"

For me, each situation demands its own approach to letting story meanings emerge, implicitly or explicitly. In fact, I think it is part of our art to be creative about how we present stories in a value-driven situation.

So the workshop that Pam McGrath and I will offer in Orange County, CA (south of L.A.) this March will, in part, take this issue on. We'll help you discover:

  • What "sacred" means to you.
  • How to tell stories in a way that supports your definition of the sacred.
  • What stories from your repertoire - and from elsewhere - might convey sacredness.
  • How to follow your internal "image-maker" in the creation of a story.
  • How to present stories in a program to give what, for you, is the right balance between "pointing out the meaning" and "letting listeners decide for themselves."
You'll get two turns to be coached by us, exercises to help bring out your sense of the sacred, and a long weekend in a supportive, thoughtful, joyful atmosphere.

I have an additional description of this workshop. To get a copy, just email me back, and I'll send you one; or go to

3) Workshop announcement: Creating Stories

Last year, I gave my workshop on "Making Fairy Tales from Personal Stories" in southern California. The people who attended were able to use this process to stimulate their "story imaginations" - so much, that some of them asked for another workshop devoted entirely to the creation and development of stories of all kinds.

If you are working on a personal story, a story from history, or any form of original story, this will be a chance to work on it through exercises and through a chance to be coached in front of the group. Based on previous experiences, I predict this will be a supportive, high-energy environment for taking on the joy and challenges of story creation.

This workshop will be held at the home of Wanna Zinsmaster in Pasadena, CA - March 23-26. For details, send me an email or go to my web site at

4) Workshop announcement: Hope: A Storytelling Workshop

Some themes have a universal importance. They speak to us as people, as artists, as members of families and society. Hope is, for me, such a theme. But it is not a simple one. Hope has its bitter side as well as its sweetness. I've always wanted a chance to delve into hope in its complexity. Like most highly complex issues, I think hope responds especially well to exploration through stories and images.

This will be an entire weekend devoted to the theme of hope - what it means to you, what can make it hard to hold on to or to accept, and what stories give you the kind of hope that matters to you. Along the way, you'll explore your personal images of hope and have a chance to develop one or more into story form.

This workshop will be held in a wonderful setting, the Hemlocks Outdoor Education Center, on the shores of a pond in rural Connecticut. For details, send me an email or go to my web site at

I'd love to hear your experiences using and creating stories, especially in "applied" situations. Happy New Year!

All the best,


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

My article about adapting traditional tales in the service of values:
A full description of Finding the Sacred in Stories:
Details about "Creating Stories" or Hope: A Storytelling Workshop:

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




Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

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