Steps to Prepare and Tell your Story

STEP # 1: What is your idea?

How did someone or something make you happy, sad, ecstatic, frustrated, or excited? Is it an event or an experience you might have? Is it from a movie you watched or a book you enjoyed reading? Or are you writing your own fictional story?

Why or how is it memorable for you? Why would it be an exciting story to tell?

Write down the details. That will be the crux of your story.

Describe your time and place in detail. Plan to take them there using your story.

STEP # 2: Start and end of your story

What is your starting point of the story? When does it end? If your account doesn’t have an ending, then conclude it maybe with a question mark. You can also start your story with a finish and then jump to the start of the story. Each story is different, and the vital thing to understand is what will get the audience interested right away.

STEP # 3: A story moves forward by specific moments, instances, or characters. What are those in your account?

What are specific moments or experiences, or incidences that have made a strong impression on you? Zoom in to those moments while developing your story. “Take” your audience there, make them feel, and see and hear what you did in those instances.

STEP # 4: Characters

Characters in your story help your audience see it and feel it. The more nuances you add about a character, the more the audience gets drawn towards your account. They will be able to relate and live the story when you tell the story. Add expressions. Develop specific details about their characteristics, personality, style. Bring in the emotional side – was the person fun or crazy in some ways, or impressive?

STEP # 5: Expressions

The story is acting out the events. The more expressions you add, the better it would look. The expressions are mostly of characters, but you can act out people or events that help get your point across to the audience as a storyteller.

STEP # 6: Practice your delivery.

You can practice in front of a mirror, with family, with friends, or at Toastmasters.

Make storytelling an emotional experience. Invite your audience to see and feel it with you. Use vivid descriptive language, or dialogs, or specific details, etc. Tell your story multiple times at Toastmasters. We are here not just to enjoy new ideas and stories but also to learn how to develop them. When a speaker repeats a project, everyone gets to see the process of how to refine and strengthen your speech delivery.  

Note: Take genuine interest to see how others are working on their story; it will help you learn much faster.


> DOWNLOAD TOASTMASTERS STORYTELLING PROJECT

It opens in a new tab when you click on the above link. The project has insightful ideas on both crafting a story and what can help with effective delivery.


Once you tell a couple of stories, please start thinking about the following ideas when you craft your narrative (not to worry about it till then.)  

ONE: The protagonist in the story overcomes something or someone or has a shift in perspective. It changes them in some way. What is that in your account?

  • If it is a personal story, it is you that changes. How did the story change you?
  • The protagonist in your story can also be someone else. In that case, how did he or she change from inside in your account? What is the impact of that on you personally, or what makes it an intriguing story to tell for you?

TWO: Another way to look at it is that there is some tension, stress, friction, anxiety, discomfort, or surprise for the protagonist. Their pressure plays out and gets resolved with the story. It doesn’t need to be something serious or tense; it can be something fun, humorous, thrilling, or exciting, too. However, there is something beyond the protagonist’s control or comfort zone that plays out, creating climax in your story.

Examples:

  • I got anxious from heights and took on the adventure of rock climbing to be with friends. The story plays out to some resolution that can be fun, full of laughter, or a relief.
  • My parents said no, but we decided to take on the thrill of escaping and doing it on our own anyway.
  • I love playing video games. However, getting to the next level on this particular game was so challenging. I decided to take that on with my friends to impress them.
  • Halloween trick-or-treating is so fun. However, this year we had this friend joining us that a little out of control. Or, we had this friend that created a mess with something. Or, we had this friend that is irritating in some way. 
  • I wanted to make it to my high school team. However, something seemed daunting or overwhelming, creating a mental block.
  • My vacation trip was fun. However, during the trip, there is something with parents or friends who started annoying me, surprised me, or made me feel embarrassed or wanted to escape.
  • When you tell a story about someone else or a movie or a book, pick your protagonist and one thing about them that you think is challenging in some way. Let that play out to a climax in your story.
  • Life is regular and routine. An event or an experience changes it, leading to pain, discomfort, worry, tension, surprise, unexpected fun, thrill, excitement, humor, etc.

THREE: Story should have a shift, a variation, a twist, or a surprise.

There is a rising action that leads to a climax in your story.

A story can have a shift or ups and downs in various ways – every narrative should have at least one up or down, if not more.

 

The in the diagram above shows a gradual build-up in the story leading to a climax.

The shows a protagonist going through what starts as a routine day or a circumstance. However, a surprise or a shocking situation arises, or a bad guy shows up, leading to the dip. He or she recovers, and life goes back to normal. In the process, though, the protagonist has a new perspective or mindset from the story’s experience.

A in the diagram can be a positive or negative emotion that a protagonist goes through in your account. Life could be going okay, and then an event leads to a significant spike. While figuring the way around, they find that emotion to be way down towards the story’s end. Is the protagonist happier or sadder at the end of the story? It can be either way, depending on your story account.

These are just three examples; the variations can be in any pattern for your story. The takeaway here is that your storyline plot should have ups and downs to pull in the audience. What is the shift for the protagonist in your story?


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