You are surrounded by inspirations and life lessons and may not even know it. For example I recently learned three key concepts to improve my impromptu storytelling when Craig, my fiction-writing friend, told me about his Bluetooth bedtime stories.
Craig can be in his car or traveling afar when he calls his three and a half year old grandson Gavin for his nightly bedtime story (pictured above). These ten-minute tales are told over the cell phone and contain the three Cs: chapters, conflict, and cues.
Add More Chapters
Children’s books have a beginning, middle, and an end, but you can continue an existing story and add the next chapter or be creative and jump to the middle of the story and begin a new chapter. The setup can be super short, “Superhero Sam is vacationing in Spain when he hears a cry for help…” and shazam! you’re in the middle of your story.
Or you can pick a story, any story. In Craig’s case he asks, “What would you like to hear tonight Gavin?” The agenda ranges from “tell me about jellyfish” to “tell me about a little boy who got hurt and his Mommy saved him.” Craig treats these as a Toastmaster’s “Table Topics,” in which the speaker is challenged to give an impromptu talk about a spontaneously assigned subject. With a little practice you’ll develop your ability to organize your thoughts quickly and respond to the request.
Add More Conflict
One of the best parts of a story is when something is wrong – also known as conflict. Why? Because you might know how you’d resolve the sticky situation, but you’ll be captivated by how and what the hero will do to be triumphant.
So pick a problem, any problem. Craig concurs. “If I fail to provide enough conflict for his taste Gavin will say, ‘…but then there was a problem…’, and he’ll introduce a volcano, or a pillow monster, or a ghost or ‘a guy throwing socks.’” Then Craig must work these conflict elements into the tale, which keeps him on task telling high quality stories. “Gavin’s assignments are unpredictable and sometimes tough, which challenges me to create a small work of fiction on the spot.”
Add More Cues
To keep everyone involved on their tall tale toes, asking for input is ideal. These cues incorporate a higher level of interactivity and satisfaction. Your listener(s) can contribute sound effects and descriptions, too!
• “What sound did the sawfish make when it called to you from the ocean?”
• “And what do you think he found behind that closed door?”
• “Tell me, Gavin–what did that monster look like?”
I send my thanks and gratitude to Craig for sharing a few personal tidbits and the three key C concepts: chapters, conflict and cues. It has improved my impromptu storytelling and I hope it helps you too.
Craig Strickland is a writer with more than 25 years experience who’s credits include two nationally distributed books (Scary Stories For Sleepovers #8 and Scary Stories From 1313 Wicked Way) and dozens of short stories in published in anthologies including, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Noir, Portents, Terminal Fright, Blood Review, Bronte Street, Air Fish, October Dreams acclaimed Canadian publication On Spec.