How to tell a story: Top tips from Taffy Thomas
Advice on the art of telling a good story from the UK's foremost traditional storyteller
THE ART OF STORYTELLING: Storytelling is more than just words. To be a good storyteller you need to be creative and paint a picture in the listeners’ mind to keep them immersed in the experience. For example, if you're in the forest – does it smell like pine? If you’re by the seaside – what does the sand feel like underfoot?
RICHNESS OF LANGUAGE: Use interesting words to engage your audience. In schools, these types of words are often referred to as to as ‘hot words’ – the type of language that hooks people in. Another interesting way to do this is through adapting the language to your audience – for example, in my home county of Somerset, we referred to different times of the day as ‘dimpsey’ and ‘dumps’, which makes it more compelling if it’s relatable to the listener. An older lady I knew would refer to dusk as ‘owl light’, which I loved.
TRUST THE STORY: This is the best advice I ever received is to ‘trust the story’, especially if you’re nervous about telling it. If the story means something to you and you are invested in a tale, the chances are your audience will too.
Taffy is the UK's first Storytelling Laureate and patron of the Society for Storytelling. He is the artistic director for the Northern Centre for Stoytelling in Grasmere, and is one of the judges for Amazon's A (New) Christmas Carol Writing Competition, which is open for entries until 7 November.
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