Stories teach us, inspire us, and allow us to experience worlds we would not otherwise know. We learn about each other through sharing stories. We watch stories unfold on TV and in movies, read stories in books and magazines, and tell each other stories about our days, our childhoods, our travels.
Two weeks ago, I attended a panel presentation called “Storytellers: The Power of Perspective” during Chicago Ideas Week. While listening to the speakers, I was inspired by their different perspectives on storytelling—where they find inspiration, how they communicate stories, why they think stories are important and need to be told.
If you want to explore a new style of storytelling, here are six creative approaches to try:
Tell Me a Story
1. Pursue your passion.
What intrigues you? What do you daydream about? What did you love to do when you were young? Explore that curiosity with research and questions and your imagination. You will find stories along the way, and in telling those stories, your enthusiasm will shine through your words.
2. Reveal the person you are.
Facts and dates are great for constructing a resume, but stories are the key to showing, rather than telling. Share your story (or your character’s story) by writing about specific moments, whether those moments are life-changing experiences or very ordinary occurrences.
Stories don’t have to be written with a keyboard. Try other forms of storytelling—pen and paper, audio recording, video, drawing, painting, dance, song. One method may suit your story better than others. Or through experimenting with more than one type, you’ll depict different aspects of the same story.
4. Give yourself a limit.
When you set a time limit or restrict your word count, you force yourself to write the most important parts. Consider a commercial on TV; it may be 15 or 30 or 60 seconds long, but it must convey information and emotion quickly and clearly. What pieces of your story pack the most punch? What could you cut out?
5. Slow down.
Listen and look. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you will find stories in the most surprising places. Write them down with a commitment to quality. Choose each word with care. Read and re-read those words until you are sure you’ve told the story exactly as it should be.
6. Live your stories.
Try new things; travel; talk to people. Challenge yourself. Live a story so compelling and interesting that you must share it. Write about your experiences so others have the opportunity to live through you.
What story do you have to share? What’s your favorite way to tell stories?
If you always write on a computer, grab a pen and paper—or if you usually write on paper, open up a new document on your computer.
Write for fifteen minutes. Tell a story, any kind of story.
When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. Or let us know how trying a new form of storytelling influenced your writing.
P.S. This practice taps into the “time limit” approach too!