In one of our previous posts, you learned how to shape stories out of your own life.
In the telling of stories from your personal life, you speak from the heart.
You know your truth.
You relate the experiences that belong to you and only you.
But would you build a strong and intimate relationship with a story that does not belong to you?
Is that even possible?
Would it be as impactful as your personal one?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Follow these 5 steps to curate your art of storytelling:
1. Detail is King
A good storyteller will always pay attention to finer details,
Thorough background research will bring forth the details that will make your storytelling believable.
You may be wondering, “Where do I start?”
Here are a few proven ways.
- Literature: Look for books, news articles, and academic papers that help you gather more information about the topic of your story.
- Web Resources: The Internet is a great source to start with. Remember to get creative with your search keywords.
- Conversations: Stories travel best orally. Speak to your family members or friends to know if they know anything about the story you wish to perform.
Now, you must be asking yourself, “How do I do this?”
Well, by simply asking questions.
- Why: Investigate why the story was made in the first place.
- When: What time period was the story set in?
- What: What is the story trying to convey?
- Where: Where is the story located geographically?
- Status: What societies, cultures, and conditions are presented in the story?
While you keep researching, you will start to notice that the details of your story start to shape up in many ways.
Your story gets richer and closer to the truth.
Read your story at least once after the research.
You’ll start to understand the subtext and your relationship with your story starts to strengthen.
Continue being creative with your researching skills.
After research, read the story multiple times to understand the subtext.
2. Get to Know the Characters
The second-most important aspect of any story is its characters.
A storyteller’s job is to know them inside out and bring them to life for the audience.
It’s common knowledge that stories have primary, secondary, and supporting characters.
And it is crucial that all of these are humanised before you perform them.
How do you humanise characters?
Note down your characters by enquiring about their:
- Habits and Hobbies
- Strengths and Weaknesses
You will start to see that characters who were fictional a while ago, feel close to real humans now.
You may also find them similar to someone from your personal life, if you think a little harder.
But just as you constantly keep learning new things about people from your personal life, keep being curious about your characters.
A unique digital storytelling course will make this exercise a part of the content, so make sure to find one that contains this when you go on your storytelling explorations.
3. World of the Story
Every story has a setting, a world of its own.
To know this world, one has to dive deeper and go beyond the basic research.
The best storytellers perform like they’ve been there in person.
They enrich the narration with every little nuance about the story’s world.
In addition to the basic research, there are two crucial aspects that will help you dive deeper into the world of your story.
- Space: Look at all the spaces mentioned in the stories, how they look, feel and resemble.
- Relationships: Learn about different relationships shared between different characters.
Once you have explored these spaces and relationships, read the story again.
Doesn’t the story’s world seem truer now?
Understanding the world of a story is relevant even in the theatre industry.
Online acting classes often require their learners to read scripts and other source material before they submit their final performance assignment.
The world of the story matters.
4. Story Momentum
Just like life, even a story must keep moving.
In any given story, there are many points that maintain a forward momentum in the narrative.
These are like transition points or shifts.
Some transitions are minor while some are major turning points.
A good storyteller performs these moments as if they have lived them once before.
But how do we identify these points?
Find out the events and actions:
- Events: Identify the minor and major situations and incidents that occur in the story.
- Example of minor event: A bell ringing while the character is watching TV.
- Example of major event: A character kills another character.
- Actions: Identify all the physical activities that are happening in the story.
All this information put together makes the story interesting and magical.
Most storytelling courses use these techniques to help visualize the story.
These bits of information offered by events and actions help you see a graph of the story emerge.
5. The Message
“The moral of the story is…”
As a child, you would have heard this line when someone narrated a story to you.
Some books would even include the moral of the story as the footer on the last page.
As we get older and wiser, we don’t need this footer, nor do we need that reminder from our elders. We get smarter.
And then we become storytellers ourselves.
When we want to tell a story, we don’t have to be obvious about this ‘moral’, either because more often than not, our audience is also mature enough to understand the subtextual message.
We don’t have to directly say that “Humility and hard work is the underlying moral of Cinderella.”
But we do need to know what this moral is before we tell the story.
So that we can communicate it without slapping it on our audience’s faces
A story’s moral often flows through the entire story instead of just one point.
Pay special attention to what your story is trying to convey.
Sometimes this moral might be subtle and indirect and at other times, it might be evident and explicit. The balance is different for different stories.
Best way to understand a story’s message is to really dig into every word, line, sentence and thought. Why is it the way it is? Ask this question to uncover the true message.
A good storyteller will know exactly how much to weigh their narrative by maintaining the importance and essence of the story’s message.
At Ekalavya, our storytelling expert, Akshay Gandhi, conducts an online storytelling course in Hindi. The course specifically offers a deeper insight into all that goes into becoming a good storyteller. Akshay studied performing arts for a year at the Saratoga International Theater Institute (SITI) in New York, and now runs ‘Still Space Theatre’, a theatre company in Bangalore which has produced more than 20 projects including plays and films. His passion for storytelling has brought him to many drama schools of India, where he spends his time democratising the performing arts to the Indian public.
India’s best online acting and theatre training platform, an initiative of Drama School Mumbai (DSM). DSM is one of the best acting and theatre schools in India. At Ekalavya, all the courses are designed and delivered by highly trained DSM faculty and industry professionals. Currently available courses are Breaking Open Characters, Mastering Monologues, Expressive Voice and Speech, Art of Auditioning, Expressive Body, and Art of Storytelling.