YW Workshop

Part 1 – Stories and the Storyteller
Part 2 – Types of Stories
Part 3 — Elements of a Story
Part 4 — Characters
Part 5 — Dialogue
Part 6 – Poetry (Section A)

Stories and the Storyteller

by Julie A. Serroul

Have you ever thought about why people tell stories?

Since the beginning of time, stories have been used to communicate ideas, and as tools for teaching. They were used by the original peoples of the earth and continued to be used right up until today. Oral means “by mouth”, and the oral story-telling tradition used to be the only method of telling stories. That is, before the birth of books.

Even after the birth of books, not everyone was able to afford books or have a large supply of them, so telling stories by mouth was still quite popular. Around a fire, or gathered together in tents, log cabins, or any other place people could arrange themselves comfortably, all eyes would glue themselves onto the storyteller. The storyteller reaches out with his words to grab at the minds of his listeners. He whispers and shouts, waves his arms and clenches his fists, he growls and squeals, his face contorts with every emotion of his story, and the listeners’ hearts pound in tune to his tale.

The best part of these stories were that they were different every time, a few words were changed, an extra gesture was added–a little more of this, a little less of that. There were no repeats–the story was an exciting original every time. Stories were used to teach children (or adults) things in a way that was much more exciting then just telling them. Also, stories were a way to pass on history, long before there were history books. Gradually, over time, written stories have all but replaced the oral story-telling tradition, but you can still find oral story-tellers today.

You might notice that in your everyday life people are story-tellers, at least for a little while. Standing in the schoolyard, one kid may tell a whole group of kids something exciting that happened to him over the weekend. Or, another may be telling a couple of friends about something funny that happened to her brother. Perhaps your teacher told a story about a student of theirs from another year who made them proud by winning the school’s spelling bee competition. Sometimes, your priest, minister, rabbi, or other religious leader, may use stories to help you understand the beliefs or ideals of your church or religion. On the news they tell us stories about good and bad things happening in our communities and all around the world daily. We tell each other little mini-stories all the time. Listen to all the stories all around you and see how many different kinds you can find.

- Think about Hearing someone tell a story
- Think about Telling a story yourself to a listening group of people.
- Write for five minutes about how each makes you feel.

PART 2: In Part 2 of the Young Writer’s Workshop, we’ll start out with a follow-up discussion on this exercise, and then go on to examine the different Types of Stories. If you have completed the above exercise you can email it to me. I’ll read it and email you back.

Go on to Part Two

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