Saturday, January 28, 2012


Parkside Road, New London, Copyright Simon Brooks, 2012
This week I spent an afternoon with a bunch of college kids at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.  I was helping out a friend and colleague who teaches storytelling there.  What a great bunch of people these students are.  So vital and on the verge of taking off into their futures.  There is nothing to hold them back and by teaching them how to tell their own stories will help them get more quickly to where they want to be.

Storytelling allows you, the teller, to improve your imagination.  Without imagination, as I always say, how can you think outside of the box?  How does an artist come up with a new concept without imagination?  How does the researcher come up with a cure?  How does the car mechanic find the problem that all the other mechanics can't fix?  How does the financial adviser figure out how to relieve a country of it's debt?   How does the parent tell the child the story without a book?  With imagination. And like every other muscle in the body, the brain needs exercise - using the imagination is one of the best exercises you can use.

It was a lot of fun helping these young people to tell their personal stories.  We looked at how to start, and probably one of the hardest things, how to end the story.  Because these tales were personal stories, they knew the tale already, but trying to present a story in a captivating way that leaves the listener wanting more is sometimes a challenge.  You want the story to come to a conclusion and not leave the listener wondering what happened next, unless the story is a cliff-hanger.  We found in one story that the end could be tied up nicely by repeating, or drawing upon part of the beginning of the tale, taking a minor detail (yet part of the character of the people involved in the story) and repeating it at the end, wrapped the event together with a perfect conclusion.

On a slightly different note, one of the organizations I belong to is called L.A.N.E.S.. It stands for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling.  This coming March they are holding their main event - Sharing the Fire, the Northeastern Storytelling Conference.  This is an annual event for anyone interested in story.  If you use story as part of your therapy practice, or you teach, if you use stories to get information across, then this is a great place to learn new skills and refine those you already have.  I am doing a workshop presentation with Karen Chace on Branding.  If you need to get branded, then this workshop would be perfect for you.  It will be fun and informative and it will not hurt one bit.  If you need to find your ending, there are workshops for that too!

Visit for more information about the conference and about their first ever, Community version of the Museletter (usually only available to members).

Stay warm and well in this icy weather.



Carolyn Stearns Storyteller-Announcer said...

I love working with the college kids too! Their energy both physical and mental is envigorating and they hold such promise of the future. Thanks for the nice blog today see you in NY.

jeff Gere said...

Hello Simon,
I'll be at Sharing the Fire, presenting a workshop on FACE... lotsa goofy stretchings and morphing facial expressings. And I'll look for your face! Nice to read a bit here. Aloha, Jeff Gere in Honolulu.

Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi said...

Imagination - where would we be without it! Thanks for this Simon...see you at Sharing the Fire where sparks of imagination become fanned into flames!

Karen Chace said...

Nice refelctions Simon, I have many of the same conversations with my elementary students. Just finished coaching some of them on their stories today, amazing how they make a tale come to life using their imaginations!

Looking forward to working with you a STF.


Gail N. Herman said...

Simon-Yes. Your suggestions for endings help the listeners to realize why you told the story, what the meaning really is (for the teller), and why the story is important. See you at STF, Gail N. Herman

Anonymous said...

I agree- the ending is the tricky part. I told around a group pf friends recently, thought I had the "map" worked out and had to scramble for the ending!