My son Nate has “Show and Tell” on Monday mornings. For the uninitiatied this is where kids get to bring in their favourite toy, show it and tell their class why they love it. It is story-telling in its purest form. Nate was given a dragon at the weekend. Yesterday over breakfast I asked him what he was going to say. He said “I don’t know”. I then asked him a few questions to tease out his story — his friend’s Granny gave it to him, she had hidden it in a treasure hunt in her garden in a pot, he found his sister’s first and when he found his, he was so happy. As he got into telling this story, I saw again the universal power of asking questions. Nate is confident and very talkative, but he needed help to tell his story, to prepare to present to his “audience”. Here are some very simple but very useful questions to help you create a “Narrative Arc”, or in other words — a story that has a journey, physically and emotionally.
Use these questions to help you tell the story. It doesn’t even have to be in the order below, but there has to be a beginning a middle and end. These questions will give you a tool to flesh out the most important thing in stories — detail. The audience will then be able to become part of that picture and they will see the story you are telling.
1) Where were you, physically?
2) Why were you there (not anywhere else)?
3) What happened at first?
4) How did you/others react?
5) What happened next?
6) How did it conclude — what obstacles were in the way, how were you helped?
7) How do you feel now?
There are lots of questions you could ask yourself; these seven will give you a structure to your fluidity and give you confidence to tell your story. Ute Haagen has her brilliant six steps, helping actors to create character and authenticity. Use these to delve a deeper into the detail. If your audience is invested, they will care. Ultimately, only you can tell your story the way you can tell it — you are the expert on this.