My dad would always share a story with my brother and I before we went to sleep. I have vivid memories of my dad sitting in a wooden desk chair in the middle our bedroom with book in his hands and a smile on his face. Sometimes he would read a novel, sometimes he would read from the Bible, and sometimes he would tell us stories from growing up on the farm. My brother and I would listen intently as he captivated us. I loved that time spent with my dad, and I hope to become a great story-teller like him.
As I've studied story-telling, I've found these 3 simple tips helpful for crafting a great story. Follow this advice, and hopefully you can captivate your kids with stories they'll love for a lifetime.
1) Establish a Pattern.
All good stories follow a familiar pattern. You can find this pattern in nearly every movie, TV show, or novel.
- A hero is introduced. The hero is admirable, yet relatable.
- The hero wants something, but there's a problem.
- The hero gets the help she needs from a guide, who forms a plan with the hero.
- The hero takes a risk to reach the goal.
- Sometimes the hero triumphs, and sometimes the hero fails.
Using a predictable pattern for your stories will help your kids latch on to your tales of adventure. Your stories will become much more memorable when they feel familiar.
Check out more on the pattern of stories from this post at dadcraft.com.
2) Explore the Edges.
Once you've established a pattern for your stories, get creative! Explore the edges of the boundaries you've set for yourself. Maybe your hero is a shy, pink, sea otter. Maybe the guide is an imaginary friend that only the hero can see. Maybe the plan falls apart because aliens invaded Minneapolis. Once you have a framework in place, run free inside it! Your kids will love all the twists, turns, and weirdness your introduce.
3) Don't Hide the Flaws.
We all like a story with a happy ending, but life almost never has a storybook ending. Don't be afraid play up the hero's character flaws. It's ok for the hero not to get everything she wants in the end. Sometimes, the guide can be wrong. Introducing flawed characters into your stories will help your kids to understand how to navigate real-world situations. You can use these moments to teach your kids wisdom on how to act, think, and behave.
If it's ok for [the hero] not to be perfect, perhaps we don't have to be perfect either.
-John Richmond from his post on Storyline.com
Becoming a master story-teller takes some practice. You might have to start out telling a few boring stories before you leave your kids on the edge of their seats. However, with just a little practice, you can start telling stories that your kids will remember for a lifetime. And maybe one day when they're grown and have families of their own, they'll bring the grandkids over to your house and ask you to tell them a story.
Do you tell stories to your kids? What characters have you created? What kinds of stories do you tell? Leave a comment and let us learn from you!