Tips from a professional storyteller

Want to tell a story that will keep your listeners on the edge of their seats? Here are some tips from professional storyteller, Leticia Pizzino, who lives in Salt Lake City and is currently on a six-week storytelling tour.

It sounds pretty basic, but every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When you begin the story, give enough details about the setting and characters so that listeners can create their own pictures in their minds. Describe the scene and tell something about the people and the time so that your listeners know where they are.

Your story should have some kind of challenge or problem for the characters to solve. This is the heart of your story, and it should be something your listeners can understand. Maybe they have had to deal with a similar challenge of their own.

Even if the setting of your story is another galaxy far, far away, the challenge the characters face should be something your listeners can relate to. It might be helping a friend, choosing between good and evil, getting back home, or finding something that was lost. No matter where the story takes place, it can be about a subject or problem people face in their own lives right here.

The story must have a good ending. It doesn't have to be a happy ending, although these are the most fun, but it does need to conclude. Don't leave any loose ends. Your listeners should feel a sense of completion when the story is over.

Many storytellers use various things to help them bring their stories to life. They may add music or sound effects (bells, whistles, drums, even recorded sounds). They might use puppets, props, or costumes to help people imagine what is happening. And letting your audience participate in the story can also make it more fun. (Have them make sound effects, hold props, or sing along.)

Pick a story you like, because it won't be fun for your listeners if it isn't fun for you. Practice your story, using a tape recorder if you can. Listen to the tape and try to improve. Then, when you're ready, find yourself an audience and take it away!

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