Thursday, June 23, 2011

Telling your own stories

Earlier this week I finished reading Donald D. Davis’s excellent 1993 book on Telling Your Own Stories (for family and classroom storytelling, public speaking, and personal journaling). It’s only 128 pages, and you can find a preview of it at Google Books.

Mr. Davis was a Methodist minister in North Carolina for twenty years before he became a full-time storyteller. He has written many other books of stories. The most recent one is Tales From a Free-Range Childhood.

On pages 36 and 37 he discusses the story form format shown above, which also is described on this web page about honing your story. We meet the main character who is headed for trouble. He goes through a crisis, and survives it via a new insight. The story often ends with an affirmation. Mr. Davis also mentions using five languages, as discussed on another web page. A third web page describes his rubric with five Ps: People, Places, Problem, Progress, and Point. (You also can draw a Picture!)

On pages 40 through 49 there are prompts for helping recall events to start making stories, like #14 on page 45:

“Can you remember a time when you learned something from a child?”

When he discusses family stories, he mentions the technique of drawing a series of parallel time lines showing the birth and death of family members. With this kind of diagram (rather than a family tree) you may be reminded of other living relatives who can provide information about the departed ones.

I found a brief video of Donald Davis opening a story by describing how:

“On the day that you turn 16, what do you do if you live in North Carolina? You go to the Division of Motor Vehicles, and you turn in your brain, and they give you a driver’s license!”

The first image is from a painting by Bessie Pease Gutmann. 

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