Whole Story Handbook

Whole Story Handbook - Carol Birch One of my coworkers at the bookstore is a professional storyteller, which is likely responsible for my interest in picking up this book. As being discovered in print is becoming more and more of a needle-haystack problem, one starts to explore other ways of having one's voice heard -- why not a literal voice? Naturally, this volume deals with shorter stories than I or most of my acquaintances produce, but Birch does bring up some interesting and useful ideas and techniques, as wells as some interesting philosophical questions about cross-cultural storytelling and/or writing. Because Birch is dealing with storytelling rather than writing (she uses the comparison of a printed musical score vs. a performance of that score) she discards what writers would consider the tenants of story creation and focuses on two elements "character" and "setting" and provides ample prompts to guide the teller through finding his or her personal version of the character and to fully realize the setting in which that character lives. One element of Birch's technique that I found fascinating was her firm delineation between plain memorization/recitation and storytelling. When learning a new story to tell, Birch reads it once a day for up to several weeks, after which she closes the book and tells the story to herself in her own words. She learns the story "image by image" or "incident by incident". To finish, she checks the text, but "remember[s], what matters is knowing more than what's on the page" (emphasis in original). This is something that writers could also do with remembering a little more often. Storytelling (and writing) are iceberg-arts. There is so much that the reader doesn't see and the listener doesn't hear. But in the best stories and tales, it can, on some level, be sensed by the audience.