Do you read the stories?
No. Stories are told from memory not read from a book or notes. They are learnt image by image and the storyteller uses these images to create the story at the time of telling. The oral storytelling tradition does not constrain the teller to repeat the same story in exactly the same way each time the story is told. This flexibility has many advantages since it enables the storyteller to vary a story to match the particular audience, the environment in which the story is to be told and the time available. The telling can also be varied during the telling as a result of feedback from the audience – storytelling is a two way process!
If you do not read or learn a story verbatim, how do you learn stories?
There are many techniques for learning and remembering stories. The most common techniques are based upon visualising a small number, usually between 5 and 7, of the key situations in the story and then mapping the route between these situations. Probably the best way to start is to attend a beginners workshop.
Where do you find the stories you tell?
Traditionally stories were passed down through the generations orally, within family groups, cultural groups, religious groups, etc., but now there are many other sources of stories. Books are probably the most readily available source; the internet is another readily available source. When a storyteller is learning a new story, or developing an existing story, many versions of the story may be studied. Elements may be taken from many versions and sources, thus creating a unique and vibrant vision into the story when told.