Monday, August 11, 2014

11 Storytelling Tips from Storyteller & Author Bil Lepp

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a mini-conference organized by Jefferson County Children's Librarians here in Birmingham, Alabama. The featured speaker was Bil Lepp, nationally recognized storyteller and now author of oh so entertaining THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS, illustrated by David T. Wenzel.

Bil is known on the storytelling circuit for his tall tales, and he treated us to several during the workshop. Because I love the art of storytelling, and because I am constantly striving to improve my presentations, I was pretty happy to be there. And Bil was just a delight. Loved talking with him. AND I came home with a new book I am gifting to my young adopted siblings... and notebook full of takeways... like these:

1. Tell stories you are A) comfortable talking about and B) people want to hear. This means general/universal themes are best.

2. Goal is to get readers into the story and get them to react the way you want them to.

3. Important to use gradual exaggeration (don't do too much too soon!) so that your listener is with you and doesn't reject your story.

4. Use details, but only really important ones. Too many gives the reader too much to remember and not enough power to bring themselves/their world into the story, and too few affects believeability.

5. Visualize the story as a cartoon running inside your head as you're telling it.

6. Tell a story to 5 different audiences before you let it loose on the world.

7. Most of Bil's stories are 12-20 minutes long... but he has an arsenal of stories to fill pretty much any time slot required.

8. If you have a prop, make it purposeful. (Don't just dress in costume and do nothing with it.)

9. If telling a story about real people, use real names if you're saying something nice and substitute a fake name if not-nice. :)

10. Big audiences are more forgiving-- and more likely to laugh hysterically.

11. If you can reduce your story to one line, you just might be ready to tell it.

And, probably my favorite thing Bil said all day:

getting a book published comes down to magic.

Yep. Thanks, Bil! And thanks, amazing Jefferson Co. librarians!

1 comment:

  1. So useful! Thanks for helping us learn from Bil's experience, Irene.


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