Spread Your Wings & Fly

A Method for Becoming a (Better) Storyteller

“The storyteller is one whose spirit is indispensable to the people. She or he is magician, artist, and creator. And, above all, a holy person. Hers/His is a sacred business”
— - N. Scott Momaday. Kiowa, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, Storyteller


A Story Learning - Storytelling Method - By Anne Jennison

     This sequence of story learning events can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle and take place over a period of time that's convenient for you. Generally speaking, some processing time is important when learning stories. Remember that what we're talking about here is storytelling, not story reading or memorization by rote. Storytelling is an improvisational art form that allows the teller to learn the basics, or bones, of a story so well that the story will stay true to it essential form and content even as it changes slightly from telling to telling, thereby maintaining a fresh and lively quality about it.

     Plan for your success in learning to tell stories. To keep yourself moving forward, set a specific goal to tell stories for an audience - perhaps you will decide to tell your story at a holy day event, a children's class, or even at your local library when you are nearing the completion of your story learning. There is nothing like a live and receptive audience to enhance your experience as a storyteller.

     The following pages have information about how I choose stories to tell and then internalize them ("Growing Your Repertoire") and how I start to learn them by envisioning them so well that they become part of me (see "Storyboard Activity" and "Six Senses Activity").  These are methods that I've developed and taught over my years as a professional storyteller.  Every student I've ever taught about storytelling has experienced success by using these suggestions.  By following this method of story learning myself, I become so very familiar with my stories that I never forget them.  I always manage to keep the thread of the story going, no matter what kinds of circumstances or distractions I run into while giving storytelling performances ... and believe me I've found myself in some very crazy performance situations over the years!  The stories invariably come out slightly differently every time I tell them, depending on the day, the performance space, the audience, my mood, current events...but that's the beauty of this wonderfully improvisational art form that stays true to the bones of a story, but allows it to be fleshed out a little differently every time the story is told.