storytelling · writing workshop

Three Tips for Summer Storytelling Practice

You need not be sitting at a computer, or a typewriter, or even at a desk to be developing your storytelling skills. Telling stories aloud is a great way to develop as a writer and storyteller. Whether you tell stories with the children in your life, or share stories with other adults, these tips will get you started and keep you going all summer long.

1.Think up a character, and give the character a name. It could be based on yourself, or someone you know, or wish you knew. It could be completely made up. Just by coming up with a character and a name you are on your way to telling a story.


2. Think of a problem for the character, or something that the character wants, but cannot have. Then tell what the character would do to solve the problem. At first you might use very simple transitional phrases to link the parts of your story: “First… then… next… after… finally…” It may help to tell the story “across your fingers,” literally touching one finger for each part of the story. With practice, you might find that your story flows from one event to the next more naturally.

First Then Next

3. Finally, try telling a series of stories with the same character. You might find that with each story, you develop a better sense of the character’s personality, and recurring themes and questions will start to emerge. Before you know it you’ll feel like a pro!

Many StoriesPractice storytelling every chance you get—storytelling is perfect for dinner time, parties, putting the kids to bed, conversations in the car. If you practice all summer long, just think of the stories you’ll have for next year’s writing workshop!


5 thoughts on “Three Tips for Summer Storytelling Practice

  1. You ALL give me hope and I love hearing of Martha Horn who I worked with years and years back. STORYTELLING orally is a huge help to writing. I left full time teaching in 1991 to try – in my own small way – (Storyteller, Storyteacher (Stenhouse) and a double CD of “girlhood” tales from age 4 – 13)) to spread the word about storytelling’s power. Kids DO write so much better once they IMAGE a story. AND they make great revisions orally if they get to tell the story a few times to family, friends, classmates. It’s amazing how the story can grow, shrink, and just shimmer in new ways. I’ll be sharing tales, chances to BE a storyteller at schools, libraries, playgrounds, and anyplace people “get it” how big a tool this is until my voice gives out. When I visit schools it saddens me to see how kids are still get talked at WAY MORE than they are getting to explore thinking through talk. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this blog, but I just want to thank you. I’ve recently done “Where I’m from” poetic storytelling using George Ella Lyon’s great poem (easy to google) and 7th graders told me VERY big things in what they wrote or spoke – tiny stories within their “where I’m from” pieces. Just grateful to have discovered this art and life-work as a teaching artist. THANK YOU all for keeping narrative alive!


  2. First, I love your stick figure drawings. (They look so much cuter than mine.)
    Second, I think this post dovetails nicely with Lisa’s post about ‘where have all the narratives gone’ from last week? We MUST make storytelling part of our everyday lives so that we can get kids thinking and talking like storytellers (so they can write better).


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