Toning down your storytelling technique
So far in this series, we’ve spent a lot of time encouraging you to build your storytelling techniques. We told you to make your facial expressions bigger. We told you that you need to make yourself clear because your children are mirroring your experience. We told you to make your voice louder and faster (or slower) and to bring in sound effects and even when to perform an evil, high pitched cackle. Now we’re telling you to tone it down. WTF!?
Do you remember being told ghost stories while camping in your garden growing up?
Do you remember the time when Dad over did the scariness of the story and you spent the whole night awake, jumping at the slightest sound or even having to give up on the whole camping idea for the safety of brick walls and your duvet? I know I do.
When you can see your children are approaching their limit before they become truly frightened and you have overdone the suspense factor, change your ‘scared’ face from a serious one to one of flair and ridiculousness, and he or she will be in no doubt that you are acting it up for their benefit.
This is a great way to disarm the intensity of feelings without stopping the story.
In this way being a ‘caricature’ will distinguish your ‘storytelling’ face from your ‘natural’ face so your audience can differentiate between your ‘real’ emotions, and ‘story time’ emotions.
Kids love to find that line between what is comfortable and what is not.
It’s why they are disobedient or seemingly deliberately break the rules.
An audience of young people will be absolutely desperate for you to terrify the wits out of them.
But they don’t really want to be scared witless.
They want to find the edge.
That invisible and elusive no-mans-land between comfortable, uncomfortable and too-far.
Judge it right and you’re the ultimate story teller and will hence forth be known in your kids’ circle of friends as said weaver of worlds and caster of dreams.
Judge it wrong and you’re either rubbish or too intense/scary/silly (you can put your own extremes in here).
Control the intensity of your story by using exaggerated or caricatured expressions.
You have been warned.
You are the best judge of your own kids, to know when they will be emotionally ready to deal with whatever emotion is involved in the story without being overwhelmed by it.
As a side point, even as adults we don’t cease to continue to find that balance point. Take the strange western obsession with horror films for example. Why would someone watch that stuff voluntarily? It’s terrifying! Personally, I’d much rather jump out of a plane…
This is perhaps where true storytelling mastery comes in. If you can find a balance in all the techniques we’ve talked about and tailor them to the specific situation, specific story, specific audience and leave them thrilled (but not terrified or over excited or sobbing with tears) then you have no need of this series and you can move on to creating your own stories to tell.
- Ask for feedback. What did your kids think of the story? Was there anything that stood out for them?
- Experiment. Try something completely different or off-the-wall and see what kind of response you get.
- Share your experiences so that we can all learn from it and similarly, checkout others’ storytelling experiences and learn from their mistakes/triumphs.
- Re-read all the Magical Storytelling series. I bet you there’s stuff in here you’ve already fogotten or somehow missed the first time round.
Have you learnt something new over the past few emails? Leave us comments and tell us what’s changed in your storytelling.
In case you were wondering, this is not the end of the course!
Just wait for the next chapter on using your whole body in your stories!