Happy Sunday, everyone!
Every Wednesday, blogging buddy Aaron over at The Confusing Middle posts a “Sunday Scribblings” prompt for other bloggers to ponder and respond to on the following Sunday. If you’re a blogger looking for more inspiration, I highly recommend jumping in and joining in on the fun!
This week’s prompt is: Storytelling!
I’ve been told several times in my life that I’m a good storyteller and now I have a mediocre, overly-sassy and sarcastic blog to prove it! So for today’s Sunday Scribblings, I’m spilling all of the beans and sharing all of the secrets. You’ve read my guides for fancy holiday parties, making friends in your twenties, and writing a blog post.
Hell, maybe you even did an extreme deep dive of me and read my guide to concert going. If so, I both feel admiration for you as well as creeped out! There’s that sweet spot.
This week, I’m sharing my Guide to Storytelling in all of its somewhat-sarcastic-but-still-probably-somewhat-accurate glory! If you’re lucky, I might even share blog posts where I used these tips in action. That’s just how helpful (read as: starved for attention and blog views) I am! Actually, rereading old blog posts for this post was a lot of fun, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do so!
What do you find funny?
Birds of a feather flock together, right? So your friends (and potential audience for all of your storytelling!) are probably similar to you. You’ve probably bonded over similar TV shows, stand up comedians, childhood traumas, etc. So what makes you laugh and feel engaged in a story? Emotional drama? Dark humor? Disney roller coasters where one rider harasses another? People slipping on banana peels? Use that to inform your stories.
Approach everything like it’s a potential story
Even the most mundane thing (perhaps a root canal?) can become a great story, you just need an angle. Go into everything as though you could come out the other side with a great story to share, and then be on the lookout. Did your piping bag break in a macaron-making class? Did you overcome perfectionism while axe throwing? Did you cry from pent-up emotions after dental surgery? There’s something interesting about every. Little. Thing. Train yourself to see the story in everything and think about the different ways to spin totally normal experiences to make them interesting.
Make your trauma funny and digestible
Everyone knows that trauma is the funniest thing to talk about at dinner parties. While everyone else is talking about the weather, get ahead of the game and start talking about how your dad missed your first grade graduation. Oversharing not only helps to make friends who have common ground with you, but also can get people incredibly engaged. That being said, if what you’re saying isn’t particularly relatable, use metaphors and similes that people can understand. Draw people in with what they’ll understand and relate to their own lives. Amongst all of your metaphors and similes, take it a step further. Keep your audience engaged by being dramatic. Dramatize everything.
How can you learn how to be dramatic, you may ask? Watch lots of TV and always pretend you’re on a TV show. I mean it. The more times per day you find yourself making a face at the invisible camera that would be just off set, the better.
Delivery, delivery, delivery
In real estate, the law of the (literal) land is “location, location, location.” Similarly, in storytelling, it’s “delivery, delivery, delivery.”
You could tell the most interesting story in the world, but if your delivery is flat, odds are that no one will even be paying attention by the time you get to the punchline. Good delivery involves pacing your story just right, knowing how long to stay on each individual piece of the story before moving on. It involves emphasizing and punctuating just the right parts. Choosing when to deliver a line with animated facial expressions and hand gestures or absolutely deadpan. Repetition can be an excellent tool throughout the delivery of the story, but learning the balance between repeating a line to get a few more chuckles and repeating it too much until everyone is annoyed can be hard to find. I still struggle with this part, sometimes (you can be the judge of whether or not I talk about dying at the hands of animatronics too much in this post).
Oh, and see if there’s a way that you can play off the story where there’s a shocking twist you can build to. Everyone loves a good twist!
Order your story in the way that creates the best effect. If you’ve been writing for a while (or even if you’ve taken any English class ever), you know that stories typically peak and then fall: Build, Climax, Resolution. There’s a reason for that! So go into a story with the intention of sticking to this order…then, screw it up completely by telling 17 different related side tangents and diving into why your therapist says you reacted to the story the way you did. Tell all kinds of tangents until your audience completely stops listening…but don’t worry, your engaging delivery will bring them back!
That being said, you should still…
Pay attention to your audience
Not sure whether you should repeat that joke again? How was the reception the last time you said it? Was everyone excited and leaning forward for more? Or were they lukewarm, glancing away, fidgeting, looking like they awkwardly wanted to flee? Maybe that means you should redirect. What line did you say that caused an enthusiastic reaction? Lean more in that direction instead! Yes, you’re telling the story so that you can be the center of attention and share your life for a few moments, but none of that will matter if everyone wants to scurry away from you and back to the cheese platter…it goes without saying that you need to be really engaging if you want to win out over the amazingness that is cheese.
One tip from editor Josh: Include goats
Okay, so I think he was technically being sarcastic (and referencing this article here), but I promised I’d add it anyway. I should also mention that I talked about goats in this article, too, so clearly I agree with this idea as well!
So remember: relatable trauma, good pacing, reasonable amounts of repetition, and unreasonable amounts of goats. Got it?