Story Dynamics – Stories

Three Paradoxes of Story Meaning

In storytelling, paradoxes abound.

In every case of paradox, we need to notice not just the effect we intend to create, but also the potentially opposite effect.

Continuously noticing the effects of our storytelling like this is demanding and sometimes unsettling. But it can also help our telling.

This article looks at three paradoxes that concern meaning – and how they might affect our storytelling.

The Spark of Your Story Fire

Imagining is the most important storytelling skill. If you cannot imagine a story, then you have nothing to communicate.

The words of a story are much less important: they are just a medium through which you stimulate others to imagine. In this sense, words are like a fireplace: the container that shapes the fire and makes it efficient, not the fuel that burns.

But, in another sense, imagining is the act that puts you in contact with the unknown…

The Golden Key

(An “imagination teaser” from the Grimm brothers, referred to in one of my newsletter articles, “The Spark of Your Story Fire.”) It was winter. The snow was on the ground, and the boy had to go out and haul in firewood on his sled. And when he gathered and loaded it up, he was so [...]

Your Thanksgiving Stories

Two years after their first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims faced starvation, living for a time on a ration of five kernels of grain a day.

Gratitude is sweeter when we remember times of scarcity. And scarcity is sweeter when we season it with gratitude for what we do have.

Stories are, themselves, a form of wealth. And telling our stories – both of scarcity and especially of gratitude – is a form of wealth no one can take from us.

The Third Age of Storytelling: a Thank You

In a technological age, what is there for oral storytellers to be thankful for?

The Third Age of Storytelling is so new, we can hardly recognize it, much less be fully grateful for it. Let’s start by understanding the Ages that led up to it…

Why Don’t More Storytellers Succeed?

Success in storytelling isn’t just about being a good teller – as vital as excellent telling is. Equally important is avoiding three common mistakes when trying to reach new customers. The lead article in this newsletter describes the mistakes and how to avoid them.

Can Storytelling Customers Find Your Doorway?

“Most storytellers run their businesses like the impractical man who built a lovely house on a busy street, then waited in vain for visitors to come in – because he forgot to build a front door!”

What are the “doorways” for your customers to enter into your storytelling life? Is it possible to create new ones that suit you – and your ideal customers – perfectly?

Have You Suffered from Time-Off Poisoning?

Taking time off from storytelling can be a good thing. But watch out for “Time-Off Poisoning.” It can sap your confidence in your telling, and even cause you to quit altogether!

Traffic, Diversity, and Remembering to Tell Stories

Oklahoma has taught me lessons about storytelling, including to avoid “traffic,” to not be fooled by the appearance of sameness among my listeners, and to learn from Native American tradition to tell stories instead of haranguing.

This is part 2 of “7 Lessons Storytellers Can Learn from Oklahoma“.

A Storyteller’s Farewell to Oklahoma

As I move back to Boston after 5 years, I think over the 7 things Oklahoma has taught me about storytelling. This is part one; part two is at

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