Guide to storytelling

As part of the 2015 Earth Pathways Diary festival pages we are including extra information on our website, to encourage you to explore the energy of the festivals yourself through stories and storytelling. Our resident storyteller, Marion McCartney, offers this advice to those of you just starting out on your storytelling journeys.

Creating a story to tell can turn out to be much easier than you think. You might start with an idea of some way in which you want, for example, to encourage people to act together, to support each other, or not to be discouraged by apparent failure.

For my story The Awakener I chose a discouragement theme but also linked it with a very strong feeling I’ve had that change can often seem like an awakening with all the natural reluctance we have to wake up when dozing seems so much more comfortable. It starts by being about an individual but the key to the story is the awakening, eventually, of one just one other person, long after the original awakener has given up in despair, and the speed at which the awakening then spreads through the community. It demonstrates my reworking of the Gandhi quotation: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you,(then there’s a long time when nothing happens and some of you give up in despair) – and then you win.” I also wanted to use the traditional story device of having things seem worse just before they take a turn for the better. I borrowed the castle from Sleeping Beauty, of course.

So do have a go at creating a story about the Imbolc theme of encouraging ‘new shoots’ or any other which you feel strongly about. Keep it simple, and feel free to borrow and adapt, as storytellers have always done. Rather than sitting at a desk, I find that walking helps the story to emerge, as does starting: “Once there was a man/woman who…, or a town where…
See what emerges. I bet you’ll be surprised.
You needn’t write your story in full as they’re meant to be told not read, but if you’d like to share the outline of a story do send it to me via Earth Pathways diary website.

I finish with some wise words from Robert Holtom, storyteller:

Storytelling as a tool for organisations and community engagement is on the rise again, partly because in times of often overwhelming change we need good stories to guide us. Furthermore, the old stories of epic heroes are no longer sufficient as we cannot just wait to be rescued.

Instead the best stories we can tell are about heroic communities and the everyday acts of teamwork and support we provide for each other. It is these stories we discover between us as we share the skills to tell our stories with passion and authenticity.

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