FAQ

Our events are shaped for ages 10 to 90+.
Our Wednesday evening tellings at the Civic Museum are from 7:00 to 8:30, rather late for little ones.

Some of us do tell to younger audiences at other times. We love to shape our stories accordingly. See our profiles.

You already know that the answer is, "Yes."  You 'simply' have to learn how.

I say "simply" tongue in cheek. There is learning, letting go and pretending, lots of practice and loving-it. 

And in the end, there is no end to learning. Any successful storyteller is constantly learning, like a successful athlete, renowed artist or practised musician. 

You learn by doing. Although there are skill sets you can learn, guidelines you can follow and advice you can heed, in the end it has to be said that there is no magic formula. Noone can tell you how to do it. Storyteling is such a personal thing. To be authentic, it needs your personal passion and respect for the story and the listerner and then recognition that you are the bridge between the two.  

You also learn by listening and watching. Enhance your storytelling by listening with a discerning ear and eagle eyes to other tellers. Be intently alert to voice, (tone, volume, emotions, etc.), body language, (eyes, hands, movement, etc.), story content, (opening, middle, ending, etc.), delivery (pauses, pacing, silences, audience response, etc.), and extra details that loads the story with suspense, emotion, and meaning.  

A good place to start is in front of a live, supportive, encouraging audience such as the GGS' monthly tellings at the Guelph Civic Museum. It includes an open mic and an invitation to tell a (short) story.

We encourage you to contact one of our members for private coaching.

See the practical guides we have posted for your learning and enhancement. 

We offer workshops, (see workshop slides) as do neighbouring guilds. These may be of interest so we'll feature them in Events page.

Look for a story as if it's looking for you! A story may be beckoning you from many sources including your own experience, a family story, your imagination, an oral tradition or written text. 

How do you know that a story has found you? Does it speak to your heart and emotions? Is it 'honest' with connections to your reality, be it plot, character or themes? Give it a "go". This may take a lot of time - decades even. Back to grade five - a boy standing, so alone, bravely, against the outside brick wall of the gym, being taunted by a half circle of children during recess. The image is seared in your mind, as much because you did nothing to intervene. As you grow, that image is trickered over and over. A visit to the Art Gallery of Hamilton and a Kurelek painting called, "Dammed Pollock" and you saw that boy so long ago. A tragic news story of cyber bullying hit a nerve. There will be a story that calls to you to tell. A Cinderella story? Giraffe's Can't Dance?  (Giles Andrede. Orchard 1999), Penduli?  (Janell Canon.Harcourt 2004).  

Then sit with your story. Let it percolate. Let it enter you. Does the story continue to resonate?

Include your listerners in your thinking and selection. Will it speak to the needs and interests of your listeners?

Continue to play with the story until it feels good. (See "Ten+ Tips to Get Into a Story")

If, in the end, if it does not speak to you, let it go. That's okay too.  It may speak to you later. Be open to another. 

You may want to keep a list of stories, perhaps with a wee annotation for future referenc. 

No, you may not.

The question for storytellers is, "What is appropriate and what is appropriation?" The Cambridge dictionary defines appropriation as, “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”   

The release of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report (TRC) dramatically changed things for us as it relates to our telling stories from Turtle Island (North American continent) Indigenous traditions. 

How can we as storytellers foster and be part of reconcilliation? As a non-Indigenous storyteller, don't take Indigenous stories no matter how wondrous they are. Engage in a lot of honest homework to learn how interwoven and deeply rooted stories are to ancient, sacred traditions, spirituality and ceremony. Listen to Indigenous tellers and listen and ask for their knowledge and wisdom. (GGS is happy that Jan Sheman, First Nations storyteller, is a a frequent guest at GGS events.)  

It's a complex and sensitive area and GGS commit to continue in dialogue and respect.  

With all stories always be honest and open about the source of your story and tell the audience. E.g., Show the literary source. 

Yes, yes, yes, but "rehearse" does not mean memorize and recite and recite. Then it will become a recitation.

Although we say, "Yes, rehearse," you don't want to slice and dice and overthink a story. That may sound contradictory but you want to know and feel the flow of the story and then live it and be open to spontaneity in response to the story and the audience. 

Add emotions and telling details in ways that reveals the broader story.

You might shape the story for telling with the help of other storytellers. Many of our members are available for private coaching.  Experienced tellers typically may continue to appreciate the chance to rehearse in front of a good coach.

A few other tips: rehearse standing up; rehearse aloud; rehearse in front ot a full length mirror; pay attention to your hands, your posture, your face, your tone, your pacing,  . . . Experiment to develop your talents. Have fun!

Plan for a beginning to introduce your story in a way that informs and grabs your listeners, know the FLOW of the middle to unfold the story, and plan a closing that lets your audience know it is the end.

Rehearse recovery. Don't backtrack.

The first telling to an audience may be rough. You may forget things, or realize your tongue can’t get around those words, or the audience is confused, or there’s a second meaning you hadn’t thought of, or there's an unplanned interruption, or any of a dozen other things. Part of rehearsing is planning for those moments and rehearsing a smooth recovery, unbeknownst to your audience as much as possible. 

Do NOT let your listeners know of your discomfort to a point where they are focussed on your anxiety. You don't want to distract from the story. 

Two reasons. First, it is unfair to the other tellers to take more time. We have a few slots each open mic night for longer stories. Contact us for details. guelphstory@gmail.com

Second, ten minutes can seem like a very long time for audience and teller if a story is not going well.

Of course! And also in goblins, unicorns, talking rabbits, leprechauns, tooth fairies and lucky rocks.

Of course stories are true. They just might never have happened. 

Stories engage us on many levels. They can help us to grasp Truths about ourselves, Truths in our relationship to one another and Mother Earth.

So what is 'True'? 

"... there is a lot to learn from scarecrows, lions, and tin men,
about important things like wisdom, courage, and love."
     ~ Annette Simmons (The Story Factor. Basic Books, 2006. 195.)

We may have to dig and scramble and feel and think and fumble and grow up to find the vein of Truth - -  to discover eternal verities hidden in a story. 

More fun than a dripping ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Hard to say. Some of our members do tell at seniors’ homes, charity events, schools, Guides/Scouts, birthday parties, etc. So it depends on the event and the teller. 

Is there a charge? Hard to say. Some charge, some don’t. For some tellers, it's how they put porridge on the table. We suggest that an honorarium is a polite gesture of respect. Some may return it, some donate it to their favourite charity, (includng the GGS), and some may use it to buy porridge and be able to add some raisins.

Details may be under tellers' profile. In addition, don't be afraid to have the conversation. There may be opportunties to negotiate.

Find our top 10 tips to get into telling a story here.