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English Language Arts: Oral Storytelling

Stories for Life

The Art of Storytelling

MENSA for Kids: The Art of Storytelling

PBS: Storytelling Traditions

Oral Storytelling today and yesterday

What are the differences between oral and modern story telling?

Sometimes there are no differences. A modern story can be told orally. The effectiveness of the performance depends on the same factors involved in telling traditional stories. Most stories today are told in a written form, however, or in a visual form on television, in movies, or on the Internet.

The themes of modern written stories may sometimes be different from the themes of stories that are told orally. Some stories aren’t designed to be presented by voice, acting techniques, or props. Instead, the goal is to use written words to create thoughts or emotions in the reader’s mind. An oral presentation of the story may be less effective or even inappropriate.

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** WARNING: SOME Coarse Language

TOP TIPS from Ted Stanton of Pixar:

Make the audience care
The greatest story commandment of all says Stanton is: "Make me care. Please—emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically — just make me care."

Story is about change. No change, no story
"We're all learning all the time. And that's why change is fundamental in story," says Stanton. "If things go static, stories die, because life is never static."

Have a clear theme
"A strong theme is always running through a well-told story," Stanton says. The theme is often not stated directly in the story but it is the essence or the core idea at the root of the story. Robert McKee refers to this core idea as the "Controlling Idea." If you have a clear sense of your theme or controlling idea, this keeps you from trying to throw too many ideas into one story. For example, McKee says in the book Story that the controlling idea of the movie Groundhog Day is "Happiness fills our lives when we learn to love unconditionally."

Stimulate a sense of wonder
"The best stories infuse wonder," Stanton says. Everything depends on the context of the presentation, but in most cases a good presentation is a mix of logic, data, emotion, and inspiration.

Look inside yourself
Where do you find material for storytelling? Draw from your experiences and look inside yourself.

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