Story-telling

This post is the end of a three part series, so if you haven’t read the last two days, please do that before reading this one, in fact it would be good to read them anyway so this makes more sense to you.

Five keys to telling good stories;

1. Keep your story short. The number one reason that stories move from good to boring is that they go too long, usually because there is too much detail. The rule that I follow is 200 words written and 2 minutes spoken, with 300 words written and 3 minutes spoken as the absolute maximum.

2. Tell your story in a straight line. Our minds like listening to a story until it gets confusing and nothing makes a story confusing as much as rabbit trails, it is like telling multiple stories at once. That might work in movies but not when you want to hold someone’s attention while you are telling them a story.

3. Use people’s names as much as possible instead of pronouns unless the story is about only one person. Again, people don’t listen to confusing stories and the over use of pronouns makes a person’s brain have to work too hard to figure out who is being talked about as the story moves along. As I listen to different people tell stories that are both good and bad this principle is often the difference.

4. Work at creating a mental image or picture with the words that you use. Use words that describe the scene in the story with colors, size, movement, and sounds. It is as if you are painting a picture using words so that the person listening easily gets a mental image as you tell your story. But, a word of caution, this is where many people cross the line into boring because they give to much detail. This principle is the biggest difference between good story-tellers and bad, the best stories have just enough detail, and the bad too much.

5. Writing is the single most important factor in the first four principles being followed successfully. Writing is a discipline that many often skip because it takes to long, but skipping it almost guarantees that a story will be boring. Any story that I tell in a sermon or lesson is always one that I have first written out. When you write it out and read it back to yourself it is so much easier to ask yourself how you did on the four keys to a good story. I am always looking for good stories in daily experiences, and when I see one I write it out and then memorize it.

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