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How to do storytelling – 3: What to add in

by on June 23, 2015

We’re continuing to talk about preparing the script for your story.

3. Add dramatising phrases

Part of simplifying your sentences may often be to add in words or phrases that clarify or dramatise what’s going on. You’re turning a verbal medium into a visual medium, and that will mean some changes. For example, indirect speech is more dramatic if turned into direct speech.

In Mark 3:9, when Jesus is teaching the crowds:

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.

This can easily be changed to:

He told his disciples, “This crowd is crushing me! Get a boat ready for me, and I’ll teach from there.”

The result is more immediate and dramatic.

Back in Genesis 2, when Adam names the animals:

So the LORD God formed out of the ground each wild animal and each bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the mana no helper was found who was like him. 

If I were telling this for kids, I’d change it to something like:

So the LORD God took dirt and formed it into each wild animal and each bird of the sky. He brought each animal to the man to see what he would call it. 

“Hmm, long neck, funny little horns, let’s call it a giraffe.”

“Hmm, wags tail, lots of hair, big slobbery tongue. I’ll call this one a dog.”

And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  20 The man gave names to all the animals. But he didn’t find a helper to keep him company. None of them was right for that job.

The additions seem big this time – but actually all they are doing is to bring out dramatically what is already there in the story. Something of that sort did actually go on, yes? By dramatising it, you draw people inside the story so that they can experience it much closer up. Remember you’re not doing a bible reading, you’re telling the story.

A more modest addition would be worthwhile later in the chapter:

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.  22 Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said:

There are some assumptions built into this, and if we can bring them out it will be easier for people to follow the story. I’ve highlighted the additions:

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man. While he slept, God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.  Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman. He brought her to the man. 23 And when he saw her, the man said:

These additions help clarify the action. They help make it visual and dramatic.

From → General

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