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Fresh Ground Stories Seattle Storytelling Meetup Group Message Board › Storytelling Rules and Guidelines

Storytelling Rules and Guidelines

Paul C.
user 12583477
Group Organizer
Olympia, WA
Hi Everyone,


I want to thank all the new people for signing up on our MeetUP page. I’m sorry I haven’t had time the write personal introductions or thank yous. I’m happy that so many people are interested in telling and listening to stories.


Since it’s been a long time since I posted anything about rules and guidelines I figured this would be a good time to do that. You are more than welcome to just come and listen, but if you want to tell a story (and I hope you do) here’s what you need to know.


Rules/Guidelines for performing

1. Story must be true and have happened to you. Also, the story should mean something to you. We're looking for stories that tell us something about yourself. Not every story has a moral but there should be something in there that tells us why the story is important to you and maybe how its shaped your life or your beliefs about something. It doesn't have to be serious. Funny stories can be just as meaningful as sad ones.


2. Keep it under 10 minutes. Shorter is better so we can get more people onstage. We run from 7:00-8:30 and I try to end it on time.


3. No notes on stage. Trust me, it’s always better to tell the story naturally. Practice in your living room, the car, the bathroom, wherever. Tell it to friends and family, or that guy on the bus. Whatever it takes to remember it.


4. A story needs a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes I think I have a story but it turns out it’s just a collection of memories and a feeling. I usually figure this out when I practice out loud. There’s something about practicing out loud that makes it easier to tell when something isn’t working or doesn’t make sense.


4. The best advice I ever got for storytelling was to know the last line of your story before you start working on it. The last line should be something that wraps everything up and gives the story some meaning.


5. I’m not a professional storyteller so take my advice with a grain a salt. I’m just happy you’re here. I try to keep the show as casual as possible while still making everyone stand up and use a microphone.


6. No standup comedy. There are lots of open mics for that. There aren’t too many for storytelling.

7. Dirty words and subject matter. Use your judgement. We are in a public place and not everyone is there for the show. Some people are there with their kids. Stories that are funny in a nightclub or bar rarely do well here. There are many ways to tell stories and if you put some thought into it you can talk about almost any subject. Choose your words carefully. I know it's harder but it will be worth it. The audience will appreciate it and more importantly Roy Street Coffee will appreciate it. They let us use their room for free and if we offend their customers we won't have a show anymore.

8. Get there early to put your name in the Mr. Coffee carafe. I have another jar for names of people that get there after 7:00. I start the show at 7:00 and pull names out of Mr. Coffee until we run out. If we have any time left I start pulling names out of the second jar. Does that make sense? I may have just confused everyone. It’ll be clear when I do it at the show.


9. The Release. I try to record the audio from all the shows and if one or two stories really knock me out I’ll put them up on our Facebook and blog. In order to do that I ask everyone to sign a release. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to. I’ll never upload anything I don’t have permission for and you don’t need to sign a release in order to tell a story. I don’t always have time to go over the show once I get home so there are many stories that deserve to be up on the internet but will probably never get there. You are welcome to record yourself with your own camera or audio recorder for your own use.


10. If you have any questions email me at Thanks again for wanting to be part of Fresh Ground Stories. I hope I get to see you all this Thursday.


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