My New Driver’s License

“Look at me”, I argued – pointing to a very large belly. “I am married, and I am having a baby. Why should I have to have someone sign for me to drive.” He was unsympathetic to the insult.

keys hanging on the wallMy New Driver’s License
By: Ellouise Schoettler

In July, I went to the Motor Vehicle Express Office to renew my Maryland driver’s license Express is just part of the name of this place, not a description of the service, so while I waited in line for an hour, I had time to think about my history in the whole process of being licensed to drive a car.

I got my first driver’s license in 1953 by taking driver’s education during my junior year at Central High School in Charlotte, NC. A breeze —

Four years later, when it was time to renew my driver’s license, I was a married woman, and Jim and I were living in Baltimore. Two weeks before my 20th birthday, I was pregnant with our first child. Continue reading “My New Driver’s License”

Picking Blackberries: How to Develop Personal Storytelling

We all have such stories that are recalled by a specific incident, by seeing an old toy at a flea market, by tasting a certain food or passing a place from our past. These kinds of stories keep us in touch with our roots and allow our descendants to understand a little of how we-and they-came to be who we are today.

Picking Blackberries: How to Develop Personal Tales
By: Granny Sue

Picking blackberries this summer brought back a flood of memories,

a bowl of freshly picked blackberries

especially of days spent in the berry patch as a young mother, picking berries with my four older sons. We spent a lot of time picking

berries-they were a mainstay of our diet because I canned them for winter cobblers, made them into jam for topping pancakes, toast, and biscuits or for sweetening oatmeal, or canned blackberry juice to mix with the juice from the Concord grapes. Sometimes, when the berries were exceptionally plentiful, I made blackberry wine too, which I mixed with elderberry wine to make a clear red wine with a nice bite.

Our farm had many berry patches in the old overgrown pastures, and we found even bigger and better berries along the logging roads on White Rose Ridge, a few miles away. We didn’t worry too much about snakes, although we kept our eyes open for them. We didn’t worry about scratches and pricks on our arms either, and it usually looked like we had been in a catfight after a week of berry picking.

Continue reading “Picking Blackberries: How to Develop Personal Storytelling”

How to Use the Power of Pause

How To: Use the Power of the Pause to Strengthen Your Telling

By: Chris King

close up of clock faceWhen we are telling stories to a group, especially as a newer storyteller, one of the most difficult techniques to master is the use of the pause. Even in everyday conversation, most people have a problem with silence. Somehow we feel we must always fill a space with words. And yet silence and a pause during the telling of a story not only enhances the audience’s understanding of the story, but it also builds anticipation. In this article, I will discuss the whys and how to use pauses to strengthen your storytelling.

Begin with silence.

It takes “guts” to stand in front of an audience after being introduced without saying something immediately, but this can prove to be one of the strongest ways to get their attention and to create rapport. I suggest that we start our storytelling by standing quietly, making eye contact with audience members, letting them make contact with us, and then once everyone is comfortable and waiting with anticipation, start with a dynamic story. You will be amazed at the level of attention this produces. And, if you choose to start with a story that involves the listeners, you will find that they will be ready to give you their all, because you have already created a bond through your silence.

Continue reading “How to Use the Power of Pause”

Quotes About Storytelling

sean buvala tells a story
Sean Buvala tells a story.

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. —Harold Goddard

If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. —Siberian Elder

Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all. —Hans Christian Andersen

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but no societies that did not tell stories. —Ursula K. LeGuin

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
—Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts. —Salman Rushdie

More Quotes Below!God made man because he loves stories. —Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlev (as quoted by Steve Sanfield)
If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life. —Jean Houston

Continue reading “Quotes About Storytelling”

Storyteller: What is Your Singular Subtlety?

purple hued picture of a hand holding a lens

What is the singular, intentional and subtle thread that runs through the story you are telling?

With a skilled storyteller, many things are happening in each storytelling that the audience may not be consciously aware of. It can be as simple as a gesture you make, a tone shift, or a pacing decision. I consider this singular subtlety to be felt by the live audience as a “something.” They’ll feel this when you, as the teller, get out of the way of the story; don’t preach, don’t moralize, don’t teach. Speak it and let the subtlety do the work.

Example One: When I tell my distinct version of “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ve decided that Beauty is a take-charge, inner-strength person.

Her presence and actions are intentional, measured, and concise. She is strong in the chaos of her family, learning what her fate is. She is strong in the face of the storm, which is the Beast’s anger. She’s not a victim. Note that in my telling, I don’t overtly name this strength. I don’t tell my audience about Beauty’s personality. I show it. I use it. I model it. I embody it.

Example Two: More business storytelling: my story of the angry manager in the bathroom has a subtle thread of “bemusement.” If you don’t know the story, it’s essentially how one person at a corporate event thought the speaker was terrible and angry-man was being very vocal about it…in the men’s bathroom. I was the speaker. . The bemusement shows in my telling, in how other people reacted to the manager, in how I responded to him, and ultimately how he responded to me.

Example Three: When I tell “The Tiger’s Whisker,” my subtle thread is “quiet.” Everything in this story, about a woman training a tiger to make a magic potion, is quiet. Never once do I say “quiet” in my words, but I know the singular subtlety is quiet. It’s not the subtle “strong” of Beauty; it’s the “quiet” presence of each character. And no one is “bemused.”

What is the singular subtlety thread that ties any of your great stories together?

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Sean Buvala is a storyteller and communication coach in Avondale, Arizona. He is the founder and director of Storyteller.net. Photo by Stephen Kraakmo on Unsplash

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