Storytelling Tips

For aspiring raconteurs, two professionals share a little inside knowledge and their storytelling tips.

| September/October 1981

Many of today's storytellers are taking this ancient art in new directions. Two of the most successful tale-sharing innovators are the Folktellers: Connie Regan and Barbara Freeman. These first cousins have entranced audiences in 32 states and five countries with a unique style of performing that combines individually related sagas, paired dialogue-filled stories, and rhythmic tandem recitations. Emily Stetson recently spent an afternoon with the two spell-spinning talesters and collected these storytelling tips.  

Connie: Anyone can tell stories, anyone. If someone had told me when I was in high school that I would one day be relating tales in front of thousands of listeners, I would have said, "No way!" But I can do it now and feel comfortable. Actually, the first time you tell a story is the hardest one. Every time you do it after that, it gets easier and easier.

Barbara: Once you learn a narrative, you always have it with you. You don't ever have to say, "Oh, I wish I had the scrap of paper I wrote that story on," because you have it inside. It's part of you and can always be shared with others.

Connie: Why, you could give your family the gift of a story on Christmas Eve.

Barbara: Or on Halloween! When your little visitors cry out, "Trick or treat", you can start in with, "It was a dark ...dark ...night. And there were some dark ...dark ...woods." Their eyes will start getting bigger and bigger. That'd be a wonderful treat.

Barbara: Many individuals—even if they don't mean any harm by it—equate storytelling with lying. But the two are not the same. If I lie to you, I'll be taking you in to get something for myself. Afterward, you'll feel bad and stupid. Storytelling, though, involves a shared experience, not a deceiving experience. There's a core of truth in all stories.

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