Developing Your Own Stories to Tell

You have been telling stories for awhile now and have enjoyed it immensely. However, the stories that you have been telling are someone else’s. You have never told a story that you have made up. Now you want to tall your very own stories. How do you go about developing your own stories? Well, if you sit down for awhile and lend me your ears, I will tell you how I how I make up my stories. That may give you’re a start.

First thing you must realize is that any story you develop yourself is a story for telling and NOT for reading. The difference should be obvious. A story for reading is complete and is read word for word. A story you develop to tell is composed of an outline or skeleton that you, the teller, cloth in rich word pictures for your listeners. Later, of course, you can rewrite if for reading and get it published. The beauty of having a story for telling is that every time you tell it the story can change and grow. Stories for reading are “caste in stone” so to speak, and do not grow with every reading.

Now a good story has to have some basic characteristics. It should have a single theme or idea clearly defined. You need a well developed plot. It can not wonder all over the place as your listeners will easily get lost. You need at least one well developed character that is the center of the action. It is ok to add more as they are needed but too many and your story will get crowded. The story should be brief and simple but capable of being expanded according to your audience and your inspiration at the time of telling. The story needs a beginning, a middle and an ending with a climax and resolution. Stories that do not have all of the above can fade away and end up in that “wannable story graveyard in the sky.”

Now to the hard part! How do you actually start to develop a story? How do you get passed the storyteller’s version of writer’s block? I have a secret method. I will tell you if you promise not tell anyone else.

I start with one word – yes, one word. Then I let is ferment in my mind for awhile. It is like magic. The story suddenly pops out nearly complete and almost ready for telling. I quickly write down the basics as my memory is not the best at times. This is where cue cards come in handy. Well that is my secret way of developing stories for telling. Why don’t you try it.

For your first time, I am going to help get you started. The word “bird” just popped into my mind. Wait, something else just attached itself to the word – something about flying backwards! There is your start! Fly with it and let me know what you come up with. Maybe I will pick the best and publish them as guest authors on “Storyteller’s Korner” at

Baker and Greene, Storytelling: Art and Technique, pp. 28……

James Foster Robinson
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