Guide to Storytelling

Tutorial / 20 September 2023

Storytelling is a versatile skill that can be used in various aspects of life, from writing fiction to giving presentations and speeches. it is a powerful way to convey information, entertain, and connect with others.  Keep practicing and honing your storytelling abilities, and you'll become a more effective and engaging storyteller over time.

Here's a guide to help you become a better storyteller:

1. Understand the Basics:

   - Character: Every good story has one or more central characters. These are the people or entities around whom the story revolves. Create well-rounded, relatable characters. Give them depth by exploring their motivations, flaws, and growth throughout the story. Dialogue can reveal character traits and advance the plot. Make it natural and purposeful.

   - Plot: The plot is the sequence of events in your story. Most stories follow a three-act structure: introduction, rising action, and resolution. Ensure a logical flow and pacing. Your story should have a clear conflict that builds tension and a satisfying resolution where loose ends are tied up.

   - Setting: The setting is where and when your story takes place. It sets the stage and helps the audience immerse themselves in the narrative. Use descriptive language and sensory details to help your audience visualize and experience the story.

   - Conflict: Conflict is the driving force of your story. It's the problem or challenge that the main character must overcome.

2. Connect to your audience:

   - Tailor your story to your audience. Consider their age, interests, and background. What will resonate with them? Describe sensory experiences like sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch to immerse your audience in the story. Understand your characters' perspectives and emotions. Make your audience care about the characters and their journey. Emotional connections lead to memorable stories.

3. Keep them hooked:

   - Begin your story with a captivating hook to grab your audience's attention. This could be a surprising fact, a question, a dramatic statement, or a vivid description. Build suspense through the story. Keep your audience engaged by introducing conflicts, obstacles, and challenges that create suspense and anticipation. Incorporate visuals and emotions to make your story more engaging and relatable.

4. Discuss the themes and messages:

   - Think about the themes or messages you want to convey through your story. What lessons or insights can your audience gain?

5. Stay open to feedback:

   - Practice storytelling regularly to improve your skills. Feedback may be verbal or non-verbal. Keep learning. Storytelling is an evolving art. Read books, watch movies, and listen to other storytellers to learn and draw inspiration. Don't get discouraged if you don't achieve your desired level of skill immediately.

6. Edit and Revise:

   - Writing is rewriting. After you've written your story, edit it for clarity, coherence, and conciseness.

Whether it's through writing, speaking, or other mediums, share your stories with the world. Share stories that are meaningful to you. Authenticity resonates with audiences. You never know whose life you might touch or inspire.

Preparing your Children's Story for Illustrations

Tutorial / 12 April 2023

So, you want to write a children's book but you're not sure when it's okay to reach out to an illustrator?

Here's a quick, no-nonsense guide.

The first question to ask yourself is this; are you self-publishing?

If the answer is no, then don't worry about the illustrator. Let the publisher take care of that. 

If the answer is yes, then stick around.

It is best to contact the illustrator when your manuscript is complete and well edited. Re-writing is part of the editing process, and sometimes new ideas come up.

When you reach out to an illustrator, they are likely to ask you questions about your book. You need to be able to answer all the questions without sharing your manuscript. It is important to protect your intellectual property. But how can you be sure of how many illustrations you will need?

You can figure that out by creating a picture book dummy. A picture book dummy is a very useful tool. It helps you organize the text in your story and see how things will flow from page to page. 

There are many ways to do this. You can use sticky notes, or a folded sheet of paper. But I've created a digital tool for this. I used this tool to develop my author-illustrator projects. You can get it for free here.

Once you have the text in dummy form, you may choose to write prompts for the illustrator to work with.  It's great if the left and right sides of the book work together. Take note of what is happening on each spread, and how scenes change from spread to spread.

With that you are ready! You have a clear vision of what you need. You can create an illustration brief with confidence, and answer all questions easily. You can also identify illustrators who are the best fit for you. 

If this helped you, share it!