Sunday, October 21, 2012
My story building strategy is simple.
There are two core principles I operate from when building a new storytelling presentation.
First: Choose one value to teach.
Build the story or stories (in a presentation) around one value. You can put the value in the mouth of a character. You can imbed the value in the way the character does what they do. You can even play around the edges of the value and have the kids guess what it is. Just don't muddy the water by stomping from one point to another. Choose a value. Teach it once, twice, three times. Use a variety of approaches. But stay on value. There are other times for other talks - one talk, one value.
Some compare it to a bullet and buckshot. One value, well aimed, will get a bullseye. But fire a shotgun, full of all your favourite buckshot one-liners, at the same target and you'll hit everything and nothing. As Steve Martin’s “serious business” character says to John Candy’s “mile-a-minute storytelling” character, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “By the way, when you're telling these little stories, here's a good idea. Have a point. It makes it more interesting for the listener.”
Second: Stories from our ancient faith are of ultimate importance.
If they weren’t valuable teaching stories they wouldn’t have been told, told and retold until they were anthologized in the Bible. Because these stories are recorded in the Bible they are core material — for Christians, Muslims, Jews (Old Testament), and western listeners (most of us) — and are very important source material that our kids need. The world around our children will make more sense, their faith will have more relevence to them and their personal character will be built on higher ground if they know the core Bible stories. These stories have been the building blocks of little minds for millennia and led to the development of many great minds in adulthood. Even atheists in Western Society would not be who they are if they did not come from a culture founded on the Biblical narrative. So, I must tell Bible stories and tell them in a captivating fashion that leads to a love for the Bible.
My typical approach is to search for a key verse or story that states the value as clearly as possible. Once I have that story/verse, I build the other stories around it. If I have a personal story that fits - and I mean REALLY fits well, then I will include it. I used to tell a lot more personal stories but found I was telling stories from the ancient faith less and less. And that bothered me. So, now I focus, nearly entirely, on Biblical stories.
So, there you have it!
Choose one value. Then teach that value through core-faith stories.
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