Although I worked registration the Friday of the festival (and thoroughly enjoyed myself meeting the many folks coming to listen and tell) I was able to soak up the fabulous workshops and storytelling Friday night and all day Saturday. I want to share with you two of the workshops I attended because I walked away from both of them with inspiration and enthusiasm regarding the ideas and organization of a narrative or as Craig Harrison says "Homegrown Story."
The first workshop is entitled "Prospecting Your Past to Uncover Hidden Story Treasures" with Craig Harrison and the second workshop is entitled "StoryCrafting: Retelling Folktales in Your Own Voice" with Janice Del Negro.
In a nut shell, Craig reaffirmed that working with others on your generating of ideas for personal stories and the actual writing of your stories is so important. Connections and bridges are always made when there's more than one - the more the merrier! We worked in pairs at the workshop and were amazed at our own personal contributions made to the stories created! Craig's handout gave us all an opportunity to interview each other on various fronts: First times (first day at school, first overnight at camp, first pimple, first kiss, first beer/tobacco chew, first trip overseas, etc. We then choose one of our ideas that had substance and tried it out in one of two story structures provided by his handout:
1. The Story Spine:
Once upon a time…
But one day…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Every since then…
And the moral of the story…(optional)
2. Success Story format
Several sentences to set the context and frame the action
What is the challenge, the obstacle, the impediment or task at hand? (Several more sentences to set up the success.)
How did you resolve the conflict? Accomplish the task? Utilize your skills, experience and judgement to help your client succeed? (Do tell!)
What does it say about you?
Janice Del Negro is a professional teller of folk and fairy tales, always placing her own twists on these tales. She's an award winning author, with titles that include a collection of supernatural tales for young adults, Passion and Poison, which received starred reviews. Co-author of the acclaimed book Storytelling: Art and Technique, Janice's picture book Willa and the Wind was an ALA Notable Children's Book. Featured at multiple festivals across the country including the National Storytelling Festival, she is an Assistant Professor at Dominican University in Illinois.
Her workshop handout should soon be placed on the Tejas Storytelling Website but here's the gist of our hands on creations:
Janice spoke of the writing structure of a story we want to create:
I - Introduction: setting and place: who, what, when, where
I - Initial incident which kicks off the action (problem or conflict)
R - Rising action of the story (plot development and logical sequence of events)
C - Climax - high point of interest
C - Conclusion: possible solution to problem or conflict (tie up loose ends quick!)
The hands-on part of the workshop: Students are very interested in variance and retelling of traditional tales that they know. Choose a well known fairy tale, folktale, or urban legend. List what has to stay and what has to go. Use the story structure above to create your own version of that tale. We read from her handout the story called "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" and then worked in groups of the magical #3 and created our own version to that tale. Janis added a few directions for us (can't use a form of transportation and no article of clothing) Wow, some of the stories that came out of that exercise were amazing. I don't have permission to post "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" but her handout will have it.