Creating Stories

Harnessing a Natural Story-Learning Process

Harnessing a Natural Story-Learning Process

Have you ever found yourself with a group of good friends, sharing informal stories over dinner? Someone begins by telling about a humorous event that happened recently. Then another shares a similar experience that happened years before.

Before you know it, you and your friends (or family) have told numerous stories, and the entire group feels united, engaged, and satisfied.

But Formal Storytelling….

On the other hand, have you had an opposite experience with “formal” storytelling—in school, in your community, or at work?

Your entire experience was shaded by your anxiety. At the end, if your listeners applaud, you can hardly notice. You can’t wait to sit down or even leave the event, already playing over in your mind the moments when you hesitated, said the wrong thing, or even left out a whole section you had meant to include.

What is the difference?…

A Story Experiment: Conflict or Connection?

A Story Experiment: Conflict or Connection?

Recently, I wrote an article, “Is Conflict Necessary in Every Story?” Several of you disagreed with my argument that conflict is not essential to every story.

I don’t expect win you over with more theory. But please let me tell you about an experiment I conducted, using a personal memory that I had never shaped into a story. 

First, I looked at this memory through the lens of conflict. Second, I viewed the same memory through the lens of connection. I was startled by the different results!

My "Debby Link” Memory

One day, when I was in first grade, I discovered that one of my classmates…

Is Conflict Necessary in Every Story?

Is Conflict Necessary in Every Story?

So many experts tell us that every story must center around a conflict. Is that “sage advice,” or just bad advice from would-be sages?

If it’s not true, what else could a story center around? Isn’t conflict essential to life—and therefore to stories? Are there really other centers for a compelling story?

Plot Confusion?

Plot Confusion?

As a long-time professional storyteller, I had never been able to make sense of “plot.” The various theories always seemed too vague (“beginning, middle, end”) or too specific (the stages of the “hero’s journey) to be useful with a wide variety of stories.

So what’s a better way? What if plot is not a series of “stages” but a set of processes that you can apply in your own way?

The Three Key Ways to Work on a Story (or a Speech)

The Three Key Ways to Work on a Story (or a Speech)

Previously, I have focus mostly on one way to create a story or talk: talking aloud to helping listeners. Of course, I also work alone - writing an outline, telling the story to the air, or trying to remember the order of points in a speech. 

But there is a third way to work, and, though I have seldom thought to talk about it, all three ways work together like Three Musketeers.

A Story Light in the Darkness?​

A Story Light in the Darkness?​

Back in 1984, at the third annual Sharing the Fire conference, I went to a session on “Spiritual Stories.” There, a former rabbi, Harold Rabinowitz, told a 20-minute version of what I already knew as a 90-second story. 

That encounter led to a story that took over my creative life for 13 years - and led me to emotional healing about hope and disappointment.