Storytelling: Art and Technique

By Ellin Greene | Go to book overview

5
Preparation

I think stories must be acquired by long contemplation, by bringing the imagi-
nation to work, constantly, intelligently upon them.

Ruth Sawyer'

STORYTELLING IS AN ART and, like all arts, it requires training and experience. However, anyone who is willing to take the time to find the right story and learn it well, and who has a sincere desire to share enjoyment of the story, can be a successful storyteller. A good part of our daily conversation is composed of stories, incidents, and anecdotes, for we are all storytellers a few steps removed from professional storytellers. Our language is somewhat less formalized, but we are still sharing our experiences and emotions.
Basic Approaches to Learning a Story
Storytelling is an individual art and each storyteller must discover his or her own best method of learning a story. However, there seem to be two basic approaches: the visual and the auditory. In the visual approach, the storyteller sees the story in a series of pictures, much like the frames of a filmstrip. In learning the story of "The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies," for example, the storyteller might see the following pictures:
1. the woman baking cakes and pastries for a wedding or a christening
2. the fairies longing for a bit of her cake and plotting to steal her away to be their baker
3. the woman baking cakes in the castle kitchen for the great wedding
4. the fairies hiding in flower cups and under leaves along the woman's path home
5. the fairies flying out at the woman and letting fern seeds drift into her eyes to make her sleepy
6. the woman asleep on the fairy mound
7. the woman waking up in fairyland and pretending to be happy and willing to bake a cake for the fairies

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