Step Up Your Storytelling Game
4 steps that will take your tales from boring to brilliant:
Mom confession time: my bedtime stories stink. I tell a halfway decent version of “Goldilocks,” but when asked for original material (which is often the case), I’m left scratching my head. This is perplexing as I enjoy creative writing, but when called to create it out loud and on the spot (with a dragon, usually)… I freeze.
Daddy, on the other hand, is a master storyteller. We’re talking plot development, layered characters and story arc. The theme usually coincides with something we’ve recently talked about or shared with her. It’s nothing short of impressive, and I usually stick around, just so I can hear the story, too. I’d hate to be left hanging by a plot twist, after all. Interested in improving your storytelling game? I’ve researched and come up with a few ideas for both of us (Daddy is weighing in on this one, too).
So here’s the “storytelling formula,” if you will — 4 steps to take your tales from boring to brilliant (I can’t unfortunately, guarantee they’ll fall asleep immediately afterwards):
Choose a hero: Typically, your hero/heroine should be someone similar to your own child, but slightly different (a different hair color and a name that rhymes with your child’s name can be silly). It’s also fun if they have some type of extraordinary talent, which might mirror one of your child’s interests (possibly a world champion puzzle do-er or watercolor painter… that sort of thing).
Determine the setting: “Once upon a time” is a great way to start, as you might suspect. Paint a visual picture: give as much detail as you can to the setting, be it your hometown, a giant castle in the sky or a far off island in the tropics.
Connect to a recent activity & choose a plot twist: Here’s where I often run into trouble, so when in doubt, keep it classic — going on an adventure, participating in a contest or solving a mystery. Also, connecting it to something your child has recently experienced will help keep their attention (a recent bus ride, trip to the grocery store or local playground will do). Then, bring in the plot twist — I like the idea that a problem occurs and the character must work really hard to figure out the answer… teaching moment!
Choose a happy ending: This is the easy part. Not to be a downer, but kids have their whole lives to experience disappointment. Let’s create those happy endings while we can!
Those little ones can be a tough audience (believe me, I know!) — good luck, storytellers!
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