Kate Farrell, author of Story Power, has written a detailed blog post about how to create a structured story.
Crafting: Using this timely theme, here is a model of how to structure a story to tell, once selected.
Step Two: Frame the story in sections. Once you’ve selected a story, frame it, using keywords and images, if possible. Draw the structure of the story any way you wish: with a storyboard to show the scenes, an outline to lists its sequence, a narrative arc to show the rise and fall of action, on index cards—each card with a section of the tale, or with a mind map. Whatever form you use, you are now determining the shape of the story.
This is not a script, but a framing with trigger words, drawings, and images. A written script tends to restrict a spontaneous telling, one that is interactive with the audience.
“Lunch in South Park”
1. Early May, my son had cut his South American trip short, quarantined, and took the ferry from the East Bay to SF to deliver disinfectant cleaners. Met outside the apartment building, without masks, left a bag 10 ft away by the door, and air-hugged, left. Cautious, tentative, worried.
2. Mother’s Day lunch postponed due to rain; later, we met and walked to South Park, a few blocks away—a landscaped oval space built around townhouses in 1855—ordered melted cheese in separate boxes, sat at different park cafe tables in the drizzle, ten feet apart, while the only other people in the park, construction workers in bright yellow vests, sat 4 to a larger table. My son wore his black leather jacket, having rode over the Bay Bridge on his motorcycle, looked stern, forbidding, untouchable. I wondered at his insistence to go the extra mile, or foot.
3. Mid-June: Met in South Park, at a new take-out, a Latino cafe, sat at two different outdoor dining tables—my son in the street and I on the sidewalk—left to sit in park across the sidewalk from one another, while people walked between us, talked for hours. Untouchable. I felt suppressed or amused at his odd, unbending discipline.
4. Early July: Met in South Park, for the last time, since he was going on a bicycle tour; take out at the melted cheese, sat at a red picnic table in front of restaurant on either end, not facing each other directly. While saying goodbye where he’d parked his motorcycle in South Park, he suddenly reached out, and gave me a quick, impulsive hug.
What I came to realize was that every inch of the space between us during these visits, was filled with his care, his protection. No matter how many inches, feet, miles, or continents are between us, they are filled with our caring love.
One way to see a way through the myriad of challenges that confront us during the pandemic, is to remember how we survived previous tests of character, endurance, and will. Those are the outcomes we know, a storyline we once created, that help us see past the current crises.
It’s important to listen to the stories we tell ourselves; there is a constant stream of commentary as we go through our daily lives. Some are negative, some are positive. Some demand our attention, because they are relevant, and we need to hear them.
For example, when we in San Francisco were first put on lockdown, with the emphasis on the elderly, I was suddenly a shut-in, disoriented, confused, and isolated. My internal monologue began to talk: I remember another time…this is just like….and the memory became more insistent, until I saw its importance, and it became a vital point of reference, sitting with me.
- Seven years ago, I underwent major surgery with a total knee replacement on my right knee, absolutely necessary because I could no longer walk. The surgery was to be followed asap with total knee replacement on my left leg, as soon as I could bear full weight on my right leg.
- I was motivated and began a rehab and recovery program that required daily diligence, in isolation. In three months’ time, I was ready for the repeat.
- After the second surgery, rehab, isolation, and pain endurance, with occasional visits from family and friends, it got tedious. Physical therapy seemed to never stop; both my knees seemed to be stuck in a slow progress.
- Then one day, in April, I realized I was walking farther and more easily than before, uphill, a breakthrough. Each week led to another milestone.
- By that fall, I returned to part time work and visited another office. A colleague behind me in the hall cried out, “Kate, you’re walking!” She meant, I had a nice, lively stride, like a normal person.
What I learned: That I can count on myself to do the hard work of recovery and rehab, endurance for the long haul, no matter how long, to see a difficult and isolating situation all the way back to normal. This successful experience is in my body memory.
Secrets to Creating, Crafting, and Telling Memorable Stories
Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.