Master storyteller Donald Davis has said, “Storytelling is the way we move important pictures from our head to someone else’s head ... and you can never spend too much time describing the scene if you want people to see your picture.”
When I was a Psychodrama therapist, the major portion of what we asked clients to do was to “play out” a scene (using members of the group) that would show us part of the “story of their life.” People who had never seen this process often wondered, “How can you do that? How do you know what actually went on; what the other people in their lives were like; what everyone said?”
We developed a series of questions to ask the client to get the information we needed. I have found that these questions can help storytellers ground themselves and help them to actually see the characters and the scene – before they begin to craft the story. The answers to them can then be shared in the story in describing to the audience, the People and Place.
Here are the questions.
How old is this person?
What do they look like?
What kind of work do they do?
Describe their personality in just a few words.
Describe their relationship to (each other person) in just a few words.
Where does the scene take place?
Describe what is here; what does the space look like?
Is there some object here that is significant (to each of the characters)?
Try it out. You can certainly expand on these questions. They should give you a solid grounding in the back-story of each character.
Answer all the questions for each PLACE and each PERSON. Now you should have a head full of images that you can describe to the audience ... a story!