Storytelling on the Fly

Posted on October 9, 2014. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

I hosted and performed in two storytelling shows in September, the second one approximately ten days after the first one. In addition, my company, Better Said Than Done, (aka me) put together and promoted the shows, so it was a busy two weeks for me. That is, of course, in addition to working a real job and taking care of a toddler.

Why, you might ask, should we care? Well, all that is by way of saying, I never really had the chance to write the second story out. When I perform in a storytelling show, I have one of two ways of preparing. The one I do most often is to write out my story, read it out loud, edit it, read it out loud, edit it, and eventually memorize it through repetition. That process allows me to really perfect the story.

But for this performance, I went with option two – saying the story out loud to myself, thinking about what worked and what didn’t, and speaking it a few more times, trying to work it out in my mind before the show. This method has a couple of advantages. Firstly, there’s a lot less preparation. Since it’s not word for word memorization, and since there is no time spent writing things down, it takes up less than half the time as the first method. Also, it does create a more conversational sounding performance, more like I am just telling you a story rather than performing something scripted.
Here’s the story I told a week or so ago about my little bear:

The downside of method two is that it isn’t “perfect.” When I do write out and memorize word for word, there are no “ums” in my story. I do not repeat the same word several times or fumble around for a good way of phrasing something. I can play word games with how something is stated exactly early on in the story and how it is stated slightly differently later in the story. It gives you more options as a writer, or crafter of a story, if you write it all out.

By contrast, here’s a story about my little bear that I wrote out and memorized word for word:

With writing and memorizing word for word, you can sound a bit over prepared. Also, it is much easier to lose your place and much harder to cover it up if you do. When every word is perfect, having a few words not perfect really stands out.

There are good and bad qualities to both methods of preparing for a storytelling show. The good news is, our October storytelling show is improvisational storytelling – so there is absolutely no preparation of any kind! Hope to see you there.

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