How to Become a Better Story Teller
Author: Ryan Biddulph | February 22nd, 2016 |
blogging tips , how to become a better story teller
The man had been shot in the head. During the Vietnam War.
He was given hours to live. Then he was supposed to be a vegetable. Then, the prognosis was paralysis. He defied all odds. He was a Walking Miracle.
Which made it all the more strange that I was yelling at the man – at the top of my lungs – in the condo lobby.
The Thai security guard smiled. Other Thai condo workers in their face-saving, reserved culture awkwardly embraced the situation.
Veins popped out of my neck. Steam seemed to flow from my ears. I would have made The Hulk my bitch. He wouldn’t like me. When I’m angry. Screaming at a partially paralyzed, sometimes slurring, inspirational figure who could push buttons until you desired to push him off of the 19th story of the condominium.
Adding to the bizarre scene, Thai royalty was passing through during my terrible Thai tirade. The prince visited Chiang Mai that day. Meaning all folks who were not military or police had to be cleared from the streets.
After screaming at the guy whose life should be made into a movie I decided to drown my rage in a sweet, glazed pandan roll. Make that 2. I’m a junkie. I take it 1 day at a time.
A Southeast Asian sugar rush levels out all lower energies. Or so a monk told me. I think. Maybe I was buzzing off of a “hot dog roll stuffed with strawberry cream and raisins”-induced coma when I *heard* this?
(Note; the hot dog roll concoction is, in fact, real. And Kelli is gagging as she reads this. As are 1/14th of my readers. I assume.)
I skidaddled to the closest 7-11. The street scene looked like something out of “I Am Legend.” I played the part of the starving zombie. Only I would feast on seemingly disgusting Thai sweet treats, versus man flesh.
The roads were deserted. Military personnel stood at attention. Literally, NOBODY was on the streets. Or no civilians at least.
I heard a pin drop. I heard a church mouse whisper. Tumbleweeds swept across Chiang Mai Lamphun Road. Crickets added ambiance with their melodic, rhythmic calls.
As the military men stood at attention, appearing as stone-faced as the Sphinx, I allowed my rage to override my judgment. I pouted my way into the 7-11, a frustrated farang in search of pandan in paradise.
I’d later learn during a similar Thai royal encounter in Bangkok that anybody on the street must stop and stand still – in silence, without thinking about their unintended story telling alliteration – as the King, Queen or Prince drove by. Because a soldier hushed us and told us to stand still in Bangkok. And we did so until the Prince passed. Although the soldier would have needed to shoot me, had I been Jonesing for Thai pandan treats in Bangkok as I was that fateful day in Chiang Mai.
17 seconds and 20 Baht later, all memory of my rage had washed away. Pandan provided for me in paradise. Again. And as the Prince’s 30 Mercedes deep motorcade sped by (I am not kidding) everything sprinted back to normal. People hit the streets. The military presence melted away.
I could exhale…..
Queen B of the Beehive
She looked like a meld of a 60’s model and a centurion.
And she wasn’t taking guff. From anybody.
Kelli and I were waiting to catch a flight out of New York JFK. Bali awaited us. But the Beehive haircut from Hell commanded our attention. As did the sassy, saucy, no nonsense Chinese woman attached to the coif.
She could have doubled as a Roman emperor guard, a Praetorian presence, with a heavy dash of 1960’s dippy ‘do, the dreaded Beehive.
Her hair looked like the Tower of Babylon. Up to the sky it went. Air traffic control steered planes around it. A stairway to heaven.
But the lady under the umbrella was so much more than her magical bouffant. She barked Chinese in machine gun fashion. I’ve no clue what she said. But it was painfully obvious; the woman got stuff done.
She looked like a grandmotherly King Jong Ill who’d stuck her finger in an electrical socket.
Story Telling – How it’s Done
I observe the bland, the boring, and the debatable but possibly mildly entertaining situations and characters during my world travels. From my friend Richard’s incessant, persistent, rage-inducing badgering (OK I own my anger, but let’s change spots and please report back to me) to the Chinese Tower of Power I do have some material to work with. But I can weave as enchanting a tale whether recounting this morning’s breakfast, or an afternoon in New Jersey.
It’s not so much the experience. But the observation, the coloring, and the re-telling. THAT’S where the fantastic story-telling is.
All of my best blogging stories root themselves in observation. If I didn’t notice the circumstance no way in hell I could weave the enchanting or horrifying or hilarious or bizarre tale.
Imagine a drill sergeant yelling “Attention!” Right now. Go ahead. In the moment, after getting your ass chewed out by the sergeant, look around the room. Observe. Notice as many details as possible.
Exercise your imagination.
Doing this strengthens your power of observation.
Think about it: how can you tell a story you weren’t present to observe?
The Old Me – TOM, that idiot, has returned – missed most experiences on the road so I missed a crap load of entertaining travel stories. Even if I observed a wacky experience I explained it away in a boring, bland manner. Because I didn’t see the craziness, the colorfulness, and the humor in these scenarios.
But TNM – The New Me – fully experiences, and fully observes, all the stuff going on in my life. My mind may race like a thoroughbred on PEDs when wild men in Kathmandu bite me or punch me but I am there, in the moment, observing, watching and experiencing.
The other day I replayed a handful of stories/experiences/situations from my world travels.
During this re-visitation session I tripped across the lead in story to this post.
Totally forgot about it, until I revisited the story. I placed myself in the condo lobby. I vividly recall screaming at the man after he made a request. Well, after he made the 30th request of the prior hour. I played through the list of details, mentioning his physical state, his grim past, and the visit by Thai royalty coinciding with the mammoth meltdown.
Rage seethed through my being. The Miracle Man stared at me with a vacant, absent look. I stormed out of the lobby as embarrassed Thai looked askance. Face-saving culture. Yelling ignored. The Prince being whisked through the area. 30 Mercedes. Military at attention.
Each detail popped up in my noggin because I revisited the experience.
Throw away your laptop. Or, put it aside. Revisiting experiences is best done in silence.
Close the door. Sit in quiet. Jog through your memories. Mine your imagination. Revisit. Take notes, if necessary. With practice, you can recall vivid details through this practice.
3: Color the Story (this is Where the Fun and Magic Lie)
Paint the picture. Colorfully. Add details. Lots of details.
Brilliant story tellers from Lee Child to James Patterson to George R.R. Martin add gobs of details to their works.
Details, details, details. Each detail adds more color, more fun, and more *story* to your tales.
Either a roach crawled on me as I was sleeping in Thailand or, a 3 inch long, primal-looking cockroach tap danced on my head, mouth, neck, chest and stomach before I woke in horror to the enlightening experience. My body was a wonderland to this traveling Thai cockroach.
I add color to the story-telling palette through the power of detailing.
This is where the fun is. This is where the magic is.
4: Re-Tell Playfully
“I saw a woman with high hair at the airport.”
Great. Who gives a shit.
“She looked like a grandmotherly King Jong Ill who’d stuck her finger in an electrical socket. ”
Yeah….you WILL tend to give a crap about that one. It may catch your attention. References to the Roman Praetorian guards, 60’s beehive haircuts and the Chinese Tower of Power are playful, fun, enjoyable versions of the story.
Guys, you gotta have fun for this to work. Tense story telling sucks. Blocks the flow of creative ideas. You let this stuff in. Or allow it in. And fun, playful bloggers let stuff in that tense, serious bloggers can’t possibly let in.
I swear, I became a better storyteller overnight by writing for FUN, and for nothing else.
Write for fun.
Tell stories for fun.
Blog for fun.
Re-tell your stories from a playful, detached, entertaining space.
We are all story tellers. We all have countless, colorful experiences to recall, to recount and to share with our audiences.
Weave tales! And you betcha you’ll make sales.
Story Telling from the Inside Out
If you wouldn’t mind me story-telling (to help you become a better story teller) via my motor mouth, dig a sometimes New Jersey accent and oh yeah, would love the 11 fundamentals of successful blogging (plus a free bonus audio course)……you know what to do. By now.
At the end of the day, you want to have fun blogging. We all seek fun. Fun leads to profits and the full time gig and the magical life I’ve co-created for myself. These fundamentals are fun, helpful building blocks for a rocking pro blogging career. Whether you’re excited to blog from Fiji or Bali or Thailand. Or if Bergen County is more your speed.
Don’t forget to blend yourself a banana shake. I sense that your potassium levels are low. All the way from here.