How to Tell a Story Book Summary - How to Tell a Story Book explained in key points
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The Moth, Meg Bowles, Catherine Burns, Jenifer Hixson, Sarah Austin Jenness, Kate Tellers

The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth

3.8 (29 ratings)
16 mins
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    How to Tell a Story
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    It’s your story to tell.

    Let’s start by setting some ground rules.

    For every storyteller who’s interested in being part of a Moth event, there are some rules to follow. These rules aren’t intended to limit the scope of what a story can be; rather, they’re designed to get your creative juices flowing and help generate the best kind of stories.

    The first rules are that the stories must be true, and they are to be told out loud, in the first person. They are not to be read or recited. This should be your story to tell, not a piece of journalism. The stories should always involve stakes and feature a transformation of some kind.

    Then there are the don’ts: Don’t use notes or props. Don’t use fake accents or caricatures. Don’t try to explain a culture that isn’t yours. Don’t use another person’s race, appearance, or orientation as a punchline or plotpoint. Don’t celebrate unwanted sexual advances. And, it should go without saying, don’t use racial slurs or hate speech.

    Now, you might be asking, why does it have to be a true, personal story? The answer lies in the power of authenticity. 

    True stories have the power to connect us on a profound level. It’s the authenticity of the tale that captures our hearts and minds, fostering empathy and understanding. It's not just about entertainment; it's about confronting our fears, embracing our vulnerabilities, and finding catharsis in the act of sharing our truths.

    If coming up with this kind of story sounds like a challenge – that’s because it is! And that’s why the Moth directors are there, to help the storytellers develop their narrative. Over the years, the directors have become experts at uncovering the essence of a story and shaping it into a compelling tale. With their guidance, storytellers can delve into the heart of their stories and identify key moments and transformative experiences.

    You might think: Well, what if I don’t have such a compelling personal tale? Don’t worry. Everyone has a story to tell. It's not about grandeur or significance; it's about the human experience – the joys, sorrows, triumphs, and struggles that shape our lives. So, whether you're a seasoned raconteur or a novice storyteller, remember: Your story matters, and it's waiting to be shared with the world.

    In the next section, we’ll get into the details of the story-development process and find out how you can turn your tale into stageworthy gold.

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    What is How to Tell a Story about?

    How to Tell a Story (2022) is a unique guidebook that unlocks the secrets to delivering narratives that captivate audiences and resonate with authenticity and emotion. From finding the perfect beginning and ending to mastering the art of delivery, it equips storytellers of all levels with the tools they need to leave a lasting impression. 

    How to Tell a Story Review

    How to Tell a Story (2013) is a captivating journey into the art of storytelling that is both enlightening and entertaining. Here's what makes this book stand out:

    • Featuring personal narratives from diverse storytellers, it offers a wide range of perspectives and experiences that resonate with readers on a deep level.
    • Including expert tips and techniques for crafting compelling stories, it equips readers with practical tools to enhance their own storytelling skills.
    • The book's engaging and dynamic storytelling approach makes learning about storytelling surprisingly enjoyable and enriching, ensuring that boredom is never a factor.

    Who should read How to Tell a Story?

    • Anyone eager to become a better storyteller
    • Writers looking for tips on creating compelling narratives
    • Managers interested in unique team-building exercises

    About the Author

    Meg Bowles is a senior director and one of the hosts of The Moth Radio Hour. She has been a longtime director for The Moth’s Mainstage, and has helped storytellers in both the US and the UK. She has also worked in television and film, and is an expert in turning small, personal anecdotes into profound, universal stories.

    Catherine Burns is an artistic director and one of the hosts of The Moth Radio Hour. She is also a lead director on The Moth’s Mainstage, where she has helped hundreds of people develop their stories. She has also been a producer of television and film, and the director of solo shows on stage.  

    Jenifer Hixson is a senior director and one of the hosts of The Moth Radio Hour. She launched The Moth StorySLAM which regularly takes place in 25 cities across the US, UK, and Australia. 

    Sarah Austin Jenness is an executive producer and longtime host of The Moth Radio Hour. She launched the Moth’s Global Community Program and has directed stories that have been heard on the floor of the United Nations and on the stage of the Kenya National Theater.  

    Kate Tellers is a senior director and host of the live Moth storytelling series and podcast. She has designed storytelling workshops for a number of corporations and nonprofits including Nike, Google, the Gates Foundation, and the US State Department. Her writing has been featured in The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.

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    How to Tell a Story FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Tell a Story?

    Learn from expert storytellers how to captivate your audience with engaging narratives.

    How long does it take to read How to Tell a Story?

    Reading time varies, but expect a few hours. The Blinkist summary is a quick 15-minute read.

    Is How to Tell a Story a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Tell a Story is a must-read for storytelling enthusiasts. It offers practical insights to enhance your narrative skills.

    Who is the author of How to Tell a Story?

    The authors of How to Tell a Story are The Moth, Meg Bowles, Catherine Burns, Jenifer Hixson, Sarah Austin Jenness, and Kate Tellers.

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