Monday 20 November 2017

Gift of the gab: How to tell a riveting yarn

1 Every story should have a good opening line. Rather than a mundane "once upon a time", you should grab the attention early on with a line like "the story that I'm going to tell you this evening is one of the strangest stories I have ever heard in my whole life".

2 And every story should build up to a good punchline. If it is humorous, fantastic, if it is a big surprise or an unexpected finale, even better.

3 Some humour, maybe some farce. I like an injection of humour into even a serious story, it leavens it.

4 The pace. When the old seanchai were telling stories, they had all night, they could wander away from the main theme and then back to it again.

Oftentimes my grandfather wouldn't even complete a story in a single night. That era is definitely gone and I would be for reasonably fast-paced action.

5 Strong emotions, whether it is fear or love or hate or pity or courage. I'm not big into the moralising, that every story has to have some sort of message for the listener.

6 Have the plot very well-worked out in your mind before you begin. There's no point hoping you will be able to wing it without losing your way.

Irish Independent

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