SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

getting that story right

Choosing a story is no easy job. There are thousands to choose from and thousands of ways to interpret it too.I like to choose my stories keeping the the climax in view. But it is tough. The story has to strike that chord, otherwise as a storyteller I cannot be convincing enough. I like my stories to have an element of fun, suspense or adventure and mostly what appeals to me is fantasy!

Having grown up on a solid foundation of Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews and Hardy boys, its no surprise that what appeals to me are stories with all these elements. Children of course enjoy the unpredictable, a twist, a googly, a suspense. I have not yet found a good suspense story that can be narrated....

Every story that I have done till now has a plot, which I feel is essential to spark that creativity in children. It should have a beginning, which is an introduction of the main characters, followed by a mission or the plot, culminating in its success or defeat, the end.

Not all story tellers follow this narrative style, some are happy doing short stories, with simple story lines. Some use the given story text, verbatim. The difficulty in my way is that I dont find a lot of stories appealing, especially if the story line is small.

Yet the creativity of a story teller could also be in expanding the story, combining two stories, making up new themes, keeping the bare essentials of the original storyline, and conjuring up a totally different conclusion. Literally writing a new story based on an existing one. This of course can be developed over a period of time, yet for me the appeal and challenge is to find the right story!

Summer is the time for children to explore other interests and I think its wonderful the opportunities children ( and adults like me, who work part time!) have nowadays. So this summer I did 4 days of story telling with the children of N.

3 days of story telling followed by an activity, where I taught them to make simple paper puppets ( I had to put in a lot effort on this, rather than on the actual story!). On the fourth day I used the puppets we had made and created my own story, based on the original, a heart warming tale of a cows' adherence to truth and sacrifice. I happened to narrate this to my BIL and got ...silence. Then an insight into the value that this story was upholding. A value, of appeal to our grandparents, but by his opinion, with no relevance to our present.

Will we ask our children to enter into a potentially suicidal situation?

He asked me to rethink how I could have narrated the story in a different way, with the animals coming up with a better plan, rather than upholding sacrifice, as is in the original story.

I generally believe every story of mine conveys a very positive message, but in this particular story, I had only looked at how to fit in the puppets(we had made), and overlooked the value communicated.

It is an important insight, for selecting a story.

The idea, even when we use mythological stories, must convey contemporary, practical, and relevant values( that is if we wish to convey any at all... as I said earlier, all stories need not uphold some value!).

What do you look for in a story?