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Much of what I know about storytelling--including the following principles -- I have learned from Laura Simms, storyteller and educator.  Laura Simms' central point, as I have understood it, has always been the oneness of the teller with her listeners and environment.

12 Principles of Storytelling

1)  A Storyteller is Fully Present
For present purposes, it is being considered that participants in the storytelling event are physically present to each other.  Storytelling can be defined as the relating of a series of events to at least one other person.  The storyteller facilitates the social situation, and is there to take personal responsibility for the material being presented.

2)  Storytelling is Multi-track
A story flows from the soul of a storyteller to the souls of her listeners.  Although the spoken word is usually the primary means of communication, storytelling is synaesthesic activity, i.e., it may occur on one, many, or all sensory levels -- the latter involving total immersion in the experience.  A storyteller must constantly calculate how much energy and resources to dedicate to which tracks (oral, visual, touch, etc.) in order to engage the most number of listeners most fully and to best communicate the story.

3)  Visual Accompaniment is Never Essential
All storytelling involves the use of some visual accompaniment, if only one's body and movements.  If a storyteller uses external visual accompaniment, it should seem to be generated by and emanate from her.  It should not be a major problem if these accompanying visuals are unavailable -- a good storyteller can always improvise (for example, by describing the visual the listener was supposed to see).

4)  A Storyteller Has a Unique Relationship with Each Listener
Each listener experiences the story differently.  Each listener has her own experiential and emotional associations with the imagery being presented by the storyteller, and thus, each listener visualizes and responds to the telling differently.

5)  A Storyteller is Always Listening
A storyteller must on one level remain utterly still and receptive in order to constantly be perceiving messages from her own unconscious, as well as from the external environment (including listeners, the weather, etc.).

6)  A  Storyteller Instantaneously Incorporates Everything -- including Interruptions--into the Ongoing Event
One common form of feedback received by a storyteller is a gesture or sound -- often a nod of the head or a grunt -- which signifies that the listener has comprehended and accepted the previous portion, and is ready for more.  Interruptions may be accidental or may be a form of feedback (an addition, confirmation, objection, etc.).  Regardless, a negative can be transformed into a positive: a storyteller can see an interruption as an opportunity to incorporate yet another facet of the "real" world into the story and the storytelling event, and so add momentum and depth to the event.  (Actually, storytellers often plan in advance to have participants ask questions, make comments, even be confrontational.)  In sum, the storyteller instantaneously incorporates listener responses of all sorts into the ongoing presentation.  In a sense, listeners tell the story to themselves through the storyteller.

7)  Storytelling is a Reciprocal, Shared Event
In many forms of storytelling, the roles of teller and listener can switch at a moment's notice.  Every participant in a storytelling event has the ability, the right, and even at times the responsibilty, to bring the proceedings to a standstill, and to draw all attention to what she is feeling.  Thus, if the event proceeds, it does so by consensus of all present.

8)  Storytelling is Interactive Largely Through Listeners' Empathy and Enactment
Storytelling events have an open structure in that they are part memorized, part improvised.  Responding to listeners' input, a storyteller modifies a performance in countless ways (duration, intensity, intimacy, etc.).  Listeners often help choose which story will be told.  Interactivity in most types of storytelling has largely to do with empathy: listeners effect the storytelling event by the ways in which they psychologically and physically respond to and enact elements of the story.

One level on which many forms of storytelling generally is not interactive is story structure: that is, many storytellers generally do not leave the story structure up to their listeners.  A story is an interpretation of the past and a model for the future -- as such, it is not something to leave to chance.  Storytellers have a moral responsibility about where the story leads.  Listeners count on the teller and her story to provide a point of view and moral message with clarity and strength, and these things derive in part from the storyline.  The teller's certainty in this area gives listeners a sense of comfort and security.

9)  At a Storytelling Event, the Human Bonding, the Relationships, are Inseparable from the Imparting of Information
In the course of a storytelling event, emotional and physical intimacy and bonding occurs between the teller and the listeners, and between the listeners.  For example, listeners often lean against each other.

10)  Storytelling Events Feature the Possibility of Spillover into Real Life
At a storytelling event there is an ever present danger/threat/hope/possibility that the teller will make physical contact with listeners, or that the performance will spill over into real life in some other way.

11)  Storytelling Supports the Individual's Struggle
Storytelling engenders a specific attitude and mood.  It is the medium of the human, the little guy and gal, of the seemingly powerless.  Storytelling is about the triumph of the human.  It is about coping and survival, about the individual finding a place in the world.  The storyteller herself, while in the act of telling, is displaying talent and expertise, and is therefore both an example and a teacher of positive social behavior.  Storytelling, then, is first and last a life-affirming, optimistic activity -- the closeness, learning, and growing that occurs in the course of performance is in itself a happy ending.

12)  A Storyteller is Both a Keeper and Presenter of the Community's Culture, and a Bridge to Realms Beyond the Community
A storyteller is not an island unto herself -- she is a member of a community that has an ongoing tradition.  In the course of performance, a storyteller uses conventions that are known within that community.  Storytellers inform their listeners of their common past, of how the community has come to be; and they point out ways toward the community's future.  Storytellers also define that which is Other to their community, and lead explorations of, and relationships with, that Other(s).