Monday, May 1, 2000

Storytelling Ideas

There is no limit to the number of ways you can tell a story: the possibilities are, literally, infinite. Below you will find a list of some ideas, and some of them have links to an additional post at this blog where you will find more information. There's also a random idea that shows up each time the page reloads.

These are different permutations on the basic elements of a story: the storyteller and audience, the storyteller's style, along with the story's characters, plot, setting, and message. Maybe you will see an idea here that you want to use, or maybe it will prompt you to think up some new idea of your own. If you have a good storytelling style that I can add to this list, leave a comment here at the blog!





  • SCRIPT. Does the story have good potential for dialogue? Then instead of telling a narrative story, write a script as if for a scene in a movie or a play.
  • LOVE AS THE STORYTELLER. Is there a love element in the story you want to retell? Then use "Love" as the storyteller — that could be the god or goddess of love from any culture, and you get to imagine the storytelling personality of that god or goddess.
  • BEDTIME STORY. Is the story you want to tell suitable for bedtime? Then tell a bedtime story — and when you think about the storyteller and the child, you don't have to be realistic. Even animals or imaginary creatures might need bedtime stories to tell their children!
  • SING-ALONG. Pick a song whose tune everyone knows, and then tell your story in the form of lyrics that go with that song. You might even find an instrumental version of the song at YouTube so people really could sing your lyrics to the music!
  • CALL-IN RADIO SHOW. You never know who might call in when there is a call-in radio show! Choose one of the story's characters to be the guest on the show... and then let the audience start calling in with questions!
  • IMMORTALS AMONG US. Does the story you want to retell have an immortal character? That means this immortal being is still somewhere in the world today. Imagine that "immortal among us," sharing our world.
  • PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT. Is there a character in the original story who has a public relations problem? Imagine a public relations consultant who will offer a plan for creating a new public image, improving your character's popular reputation.
  • TABLOID GOSSIP AND SCANDAL. Gossip and innuendo are a great way to tell a story, so a tabloid style or "Gossip Girl" would allow you to emphasize the scandalous aspects of any story, especially stories involving celebrity characters.
  • BENEATH THE SEA. There is a whole world of creatures beneath the sea: can you retell a story using the undersea world and the creatures (real and imagined) who live there to act out the plot?
  • COURTROOM DRAMA. Putting someone on trial is a great way to bring out the drama in a story! Who will be the judge? Lawyers? Jury? You get to imagine what would work best to tell the story.
  • MYTHBUSTERS. Is there something in the original story that is worthy of a Mythbusters investigation? Write up a Mythbusters TV show episode in which Adam and Jamie put the myth to the test.
  • BREAKING NEWS. Did something newsworthy happen in the story you want to retell? Try using a TV-news style, with the reporter interviewing anyone who has insight into the story's events.
  • ANCIENT ALIENS. If you are working with an ancient myth, consider whether it could be evidence of ancient aliens! Write up an episode of Ancient Aliens looking for evidence of extraterrestrial contact in the story's plot and characters.
  • EAVESDROPPING. Are the events of your story good for eavesdropping? See if you can invent some hidden character, some secret eyewitness (human or animal or supernatural), who is able to tell the story based on what they see and hear while remaining out of sight.
  • FIVE MOTIFS. Do you like inventing your own plot? Then use this 5-motif strategy to extract details from your source story while inventing a plot that is totally your own. Click for more info about this option.
  • THERAPY SESSION. Is there a troubled character in the story who could use a therapy session? Imagine who would be the best therapist and what would be the best kind of therapy for this character and write your story in the form of a therapy session.
  • STORIES FOR MIDDLE EARTH. Imagine your favorite characters from Lord of the Rings telling stories to each other: find the best LoTR storyteller and the best LoTR audience for the story you want to retell, giving the storyteller a reason for wanting to tell this particular story to this particular audience.
  • OBJECT IN A MUSEUM. Is there some object in the story that would be be something you might find in a museum? If so, imagine the museum, the museum display, and the museum placard that would tell the story. This could be a realistic museum... or one with supernatural qualities.
  • MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. Is there a really positive message that you can find in the story? Turn it into a motivational speech — and the storyteller could be a parent, a preacher, a coach, a politician... whatever you think would suit the story best!
  • STORYTELLING AT HOGWARTS. Imagine your favorite characters from Hogwarts telling stories to each other: someone from Hogwarts is the storyteller, with a Hogwarts audience of some kind. Find the best Hogwarts match for the story you want to retell (the Patil sisters are great storytellers for India, for example).
  • LETTERS HOME. Is there some kind of journey in the orignal story? Then see if you can tell the story as a series of "letters home" written at different stages of that journey.
  • TWIST THE ENDING. Don't like the way the story ends? Change it! Tell your own version of the story, but with a different ending.
  • LETTERS OR EMAIL. Does your story have characters who are separated from one another? See if you can tell the story in the form of letters back-and-forth between them... or emails!
  • NATURAL OBJECT AS STORYTELLER. Is the natural world a presence in the story? Then let a natural object be the storyteller: the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain... whatever natural object you think would make the best storyteller for your version of the story.
  • BALLAD. The ballad is one of the oldest and most powerful storytelling forms. Retell your story in the form of a ballad! Click for more info about this option.
  • DATING WEBSITE PROFILE. Is one of the characters in search of love? Maybe you could tell their story in the form of a dating website profile page, imagining what kind of relationship the character is looking for and what they might reveal about themselves in that search.
  • CHARACTERS GROWN OLD. If there are characters still alive at the end of the story, then imagine one of those characters grown old, telling their life story to a grandchild or other young person long after the events of the story have taken place.
  • TRIAL IN THE AFTERLIFE. In many cultural traditions, there are divine beings who act as judges in the afterlife. Choose a character in the story and imagine their trial in the afterlife. What sentence will the judge(s) pronounce?
  • INANIMATE OBJECT AS STORYTELLER. Is there an inanimate object in the story that would somehow have access to all the key information about the characters and the plot? You can make that inanimate object into your storyteller!
  • DIVINE OBSERVER. The gods and goddesses are, perhaps, observing all the events that happen on the earth. So pick a goddess or god who would be a good storyteller for the story you want to tell, giving us a divine perspective on the story's characters and events.
  • OU CAMPUS. Retell the story set on the OU campus, and bring in as much detail as you can: campus locations, campus characters, anything that will really put us right on campus as we read your verion of the story.
  • STAR TREK STORYTELLER. Imagine your favorite characters from Star Trek telling stories to each other: find the best Star Trek storyteller and the best Star Trek audience for the story you want to retell, giving the storyteller a reason for wanting to tell this particular story.
  • COUPLES THERAPY. Is there a troubled couple in the story you want to retell? They might benefit from couples therapy. Think about what kind of therapist and what kind of therapy might help your couple the most!
  • VILLAIN AS STORYTELLER. Does the original story feature a villain? Think of a way to let the villain tell their side of the story, justifying their actions. That could be in the form of a diary, a letter to the editor, a conversation with a friend: you can imagine what storytelling format would work best.
  • REAL ESTATE. Is there a home or other piece of property in the original story that might make for a good real estate pitch? Imagine the real estate salesman telling a story about the property to a prospective buyer.
  • GROUP THERAPY / 12-STEP. Does a character in the story have a problem that they might share with other characters? They can tell their story in a gorup therapy session or a 12-Step meeting, getting support from others facing the same struggle.
  • DOCTOR WHO. Are you a fan of Doctor Who? There are all kinds of ways that the Doctor has gotten involved with characters from the legendary past. Use the power of the T.A.R.D.I.S. to make the Doctor a character in the story you want to retell.
  • SIDEKICK AS STORYTELLER. Does the hero (or villain) in the original story have a sidekick? Let the sidekick tell their own version of the story, offering their own critical perspective on what really happened and on the character of the hero (or villain).
  • HISTORICAL MARKER. Are the events in the story you want to retell something that would be worthy of fame into the future? (Not necessarily historical in the sense of true, but historical in the sense of noteworthy.) If so, you could imagine a historical monument with a plaque to tell the story.
  • BARTENDER. Sometimes it makes sense to tell your troubles to a bartender. Invent a bar and a bartender that a character in the story might visit, and have them tell their troubles over a drink to the bartender and/or to other patrons of the bar.
  • SEQUEL TO THE STORY. Does the original story need a sequel? You could quickly summarize the story in a paragraph or so, and then focus your attention on writing a sequel: what happened afterwards...?
  • ADVERTISEMENT. Is there some object in the story that could be used for marketing and branding? Retell the story as part of an advertising or marketing campaign.
  • TV TALK SHOW. You can choose the TV talk show host whose personality best fits the character(s) who will be guests on the show: Oprah? Ellen? Jerry Springer? Dr. Phil? Dr. Oz? Or maybe you can invent the TV show and host from your own imagination to fit the story!
  • TELLING A STORY IN A REVIEW. Is there something in the story that would lend itself to the form of a review, the sort of thing you might read at Yelp? See if you can tell a story in the form of two or three Yelp reviews, positive and/or negative.
  • FAKE FACEBOOK. You can use a fake Facebook generator to tell a story through a series of Facebook status updates. Click for more info about this option.
  • DIARY. This is one of the most popular and flexible first-person storytelling styles that you can find. Use multiple entries (not just one big entry) so that we can see the drama of the story unfolding day by day by day. Click for more info about this option.
  • RAP BATTLE. Are there two characters in conflict in the story you want to retell? Any conflict can erupt into a rap battle! Click for more info about this option.
  • MINOR CHARACTER AS STORYTELLER. Is there a minor character in the story that you want to retell who has enough knowledge to be the storyteller? You can use the minor character's knowledge and their own critical perspective to create a new version of the story.
  • DETECTIVE STORY. Is there a crime or othe rmystery to solve in the story you want to retell? Then use a famous detective or invent your own detective to investigate the crime.
  • TOURISM / TOUR GUIDE. Does the story you want to retell feature a distinctive place? Retell the story with a focus on the place by writing a tourism brochure or by having a tour guide take people around the place, telling the story as part of the brochure / tour.
  • THE FUNERAL. Is there a character who dies in the original story? You might imagine what the funeral for that character would be like: who would be there? who would speak a few words? The more details you can imagine, the better!
  • INSPIRED BY AN IMAGE. Is there some really excellent illustration for your source story? Tell a version of the story tha tis inspired by specific details from the illustration, using those details to inspire your writing.
  • READERS' CHOICE. You can use your blog to build a "choose your own ending" where you write two endings to the story and let the readers make the choice. Click for more info about this option.
  • DEATH AS STORYTELLER. Death knows everyone, sooner or later. For this style, you can imagine the character of Death (the god or goddess of death? the personification of Death?) and then use Death to tell the story of a character who has, in fact, died.
  • SLEEPOVER. Is your story the kind of thing that girls or boys might tell at a sleepover? Use that as a storytelling setting, telling the story and also conjuring up the fun feelings of a sleepover!
  • ONE-PULSE TALES. Try to write a tale that has words with just one pulse (syllable). It is kind of weird, but it is a lot of fun too! You will have to use your brain to find the right words. Click for more info about this option.
  • OUTER SPACE. Science fiction: retell the story in outer space! Aliens, spaceships, black holes, asteroids, intergalactic warfare, space exploration: whatever you think will help you retell the story in a new way.
  • JOB INTERVIEW. Imagine one of the characters telling their story in a job interview format. What kind of job would they be applying for? Do you think their story will make a good impression on the interviewer...?
  • A STORY WITH ANIMALS. If you are starting with a human story, see if you can change some or even all of the human characters into animal characters.
  • IMAGINE A BACKSTORY. Is there a character in the story who intrigues you? Try writing a backstory, a prequel, in which we find out more about the characters from events that happened in the past, even as far back as their childhood. You can explain in the Author's Note how your prequel connects up with the original story.
  • WISDOM TALE. Invent a wise storyteller who is telling the original story with an emphasis on the lesson to be learned. Your wise storyteller might be a historical character, a famous fictional character, or a character of your own invention.
  • STORIES FOR GAME OF THRONES. Imagine your favorite characters from Game of Thrones telling stories to each other: find the best Game of Thrones match for the story you want to retell, and give the storyteller a good reason for choosing to tell this particular story.
  • DEAR ABBY. Everybody has problems. Retell a story in the form of a letter to an advice column in the newspaper, like Dear Abby or Miss Manners, and be sure to include both the letter and the reply.
  • STORY OF A NAME. Imagine someone explaining the "story of a name" to someone else: a parent telling a child how they got their name, for example, or someone explaining their own name to someone else and what that name means to them.
  • I CONFESS. Confession is one of the most powerful forms of first-person storytelling. Pick a character in the story and tell the story in the form of that character's confession: to another character, to a police officer, to a priest, to their god... whatever confession format fits best!
  • NEIGHBORHOOD GOSSIP. Neighbors do like to gossip! Imagine the story told by people who are living in the neighborhood. They might have an accurate version or the story, or they might not... but they are going to gossip either way!
  • AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS... Does the story you want to retell have a really powerful moral or message? Use a TechTip option to create a quote poster or a motivational poster to use as the illustration for the story, highlighting the moral or message.
  • A STORY OF THE WILD WEST. Would your story work well retold in the American Wild West? Think about a favorite Western film or TV series to figure out what motifs you could use to translate the story into a Western setting.
  • MASH-UP: COMBINE TWO STORIES. Are there two stories you want to tell...? Can you maybe combine them in some way, using characters from both stories or merging the plots somehow? In your author's note, you can explain which parts of your story came from which of your two different source stories.
  • YOU AND YOUR TIME MACHINE. Imagine you have a time machine or access to a time portal: put yourself into a story and see what happens when you become one of the characters.
You can also get ideas from looking at previous Storybooks, so here is a random Storybook; to see more Storybooks, visit E-Storybook Central.







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