The ABC's of Storytelling

The ABC's of Storytelling by Yvonne Young
Published in A Beginner's Guide to Storytelling,
edited by Katy Rydel, The National Storytelling Press, 2003

A Allow yourself to tell a story you don't think is perfect yet. Appear to be calm and confident. Ask for advice when you need it.

B Begin with one story. Believe in yourself and your story. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm.

C Capture the attention of your audience. Collect stories and communicate through them.

D Deliver in dialects only if they are authentic and consistent, and you are certain no one will be offended. Discover the best way for you to learn a story.

E Eliminate unnecessary gestures. Enliven your stories with energy. Evaluate stories for ease in learning and telling.

F Figure out ways to get feedback. Find wonderful material in folklore. Forget about forgetting: you won't if you know your story so well it's part of you.

G Gain confidence by telling as often as you can. Gather with other tellers to listen and share. Gesture when it improves your story.

H Habitually rehearse your stories before you tell. Heighten suspense with appropriate pauses. Hook your audience with your introduction.

I Identify with your characters. Imagine your story: see it happening as you tell it. Improvise if you make a mistake; your audience usually won't know.

J Join your audience in sharing the joy of the story. Just be yourself; you'll find your natural style. Journey into the world of storytelling.

K Keep records of stories you have learned and want to learn. Kindle your listeners' imaginations and emotions. Know your story inside and out.

L Learn only stories you love. Let the story speak for itself - don't try to explain it. Listen to as many stories as possible.

M Memorize only the beginning and end of your stories, and essential key phrases. Make eye contact with your audience, so each listener feels the story is a gift from you. Match your material to your audience.

N Note changes you want to make after a performance. Notice audience reactions. Nurture yourself and your audience with stories from the heart.

O Obtain permission to tell stories written by other tellers. Observe what makes other tellers successful. Outline the story structure.

P Participate with your audience by encouraging them to join in on repeated patterns. Pause to intensify meaning and heighten suspense. Practice your stories orally until they are a part of you.

Q Qualify yourself with adequate practice and preparation. Quiet your qualms. Quit worrying.

R Read as many stories as possible. Retell a new story as often as possible. Research the background and culture of your story.

S Search out stories with heroines. Select stories carefully; sometimes they all select you. Speak clearly and distinctly.

T Tell every chance you get. Try alternatives for characterization and presentation. Turn mistakes into learning.

U Understand your stories thoroughly. Use a mirror to practice gestures, and a tape recorder to evaluate your telling. Utilize material from many sources.

V Vary your expression with vocal techniques. Visualize the characters, settings, and action as you tell. Validate yourself for a story well told!

W Warm up your voice to make it more resonant and free. Wear comfortable clothing. Widen your horizons with tales from various cultures.

X X-cite children about reading and literature through stories. X-plore to find the best stories for you. X-press yourself clearly.

Y Yawn to relax jaw muscles and release tensions before you tell. Yield to stories: if you keep remembering a particular story, it may be one for you to tell.

Z Zest, Zeal, and Zip give life to your stories, to you, and to your audience.