Author Topic: Spoken Storytelling - Basics on how to write  (Read 5105 times)


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Spoken Storytelling - Basics on how to write
« on: July 23, 2015, 10:50:21 PM »
This post/thread will be a guide and discussion on good hints, tips, and ideas for writing stories for storytelling.

Basic structures
Narrative structures in spoken stories are, and should be, generally simple, taking a problem -> challenges -> resolution format. This is the basic building block; often several of these are strung together, or nested such that the "challenges" section includes a number of other Prob -> Challenge -> Resolve blocks.

To take an example, here's the three little pigs in this format:
Problem: Homeless pigs
Challenge: Build!
  • Straw
  • Sticks
  • Brick
Solution: Happy housed pigs
Problem: Wolf
Challenge: Survive a wolf
  • House Blown Down
  • House Blown Down
  • Survival with nested...
    Problem - climbing the chimney
    Challenge: Boil water under the chimney pot
    Solution: Boiled Wolf
Solution: Dead Wolf

There are good reasons why epithets have been important in spoken storytelling probably since the art form began - they allow the extension of stories beyond stock characters and beyond an extremely small and regularly reinforced case, by reminding readers of a salient fact about the character - usually either their "heroic method" (see below) or an obvious physical feature. An epithet also means that if you're telling just part of a story cycle, those who don't know the rest of the cycle are given a much easier handle on quite complex and built-up characters.

Heroes & Heroic Methods
When writing your heroic characters, having ways of identifying them is crucial. There is no time and space in a spoken story to easily go into the emotional depths of a character or explore their backstory, so one way to give heroes a good identifying feature is by giving them a consistent way to fit into the story blocks described above under "basic structures". The hero is more or less defined by being the person who provides the solution - their "heroic method" is a consistent problem solving method that people expect them to have or use. This is especially notable in stock characters (a woodsman turns up and solves a problem - they're going to do it with an axe), but most great heroes to some extent fit this pattern too (Odysseus will solve problems with some sort of trickery, etc).

One crucial device to think about is using threes - they tend to be memorable. This is a simple learning response - it's the minimum number of occurrences needed for someone to learn a pattern (they need to recognise it, and then have it repeated, before being able to react to it).
« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 06:43:03 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...