Live Memoir Storytelling

Hosted another great Santa Fe Speakeasy last week. Lots of thanks to every one of my storytellers and audience members! Our next Speakeasy–a monthly show featuring true stories told live without notes–will be our “Speakeasy All Stars” show. This is a chance for the audience to hear some of their favorite stories from past Speakeasys, but also an opportunity for storytellers to hone their stories.

Sometimes the second time is the charm for stories about prison, aliens, natural beauty, travel, or whatever it is. Many of our memoir short-stories have great content but it takes that first run-through to realize where the true core of the story is. This is why oral storytelling is actually really valuable for writers. The stories usually need to be changed a lot when and if you put them into print, but oral storytelling helps you figure out what the story is really about. Where the core of it is. It’s the audience reaction that really makes that difference.

When doing oral storytelling, a lot of people don’t pay attention to the time, and that’s a mistake, but, on the other hand, a lot of people pay too much attention to the time, trying to keep the story as short as possible, or trying to take up the exact allotted length of time. This defeats the purpose, just as much.

Instead, you want to think of your story as if the parts of it are written on index cards. With each card, ask yourself, how does this contribute to the ending? Does it enhance the ending? Does it explain it? Is it a key to the progression of events that lead to the ending? Because often in oral storytellling people insert aspects of a story that are funny or interesting but just not relevant to the ending You might get a laugh off of those insertions, but the continuity you give up for that laugh isn’t worth it. In fact, if a laugh related to a digression is the best part of your story, perhaps you are telling the wrong story. Perhaps the digression really is the core of the story.

So that’s one of the reasons we’re doing the All-Stars show–to give people who told great stories with mediocre success a second chance to hone that story down to its essence and retell it. But also, this is just a great chance for seasoned storytellers to entertain you again with their great life stories.

So come one, come all, to the Santa Fe Speakeasy, October 29, last Thursday of the month, at Back Road Pizza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And, those of you living far and wide, stay tuned for the upcoming Spokane Speakeasy I’m going to help start, up in Spokane, Washington. Long live oral storytelling!

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