Ira Glass gives great insights to the art of storytelling in this interview. Considering how I have never been a good story teller, I really found his talk about the building blocks of storytelling helpful. According to Ira Glass, there are two main building blocks of a story: anecdote and moment of reflection. Anecdote is sequence of action. An anecdote produces suspense and raises questions. In fact, a good anecdote is constantly raising questions from the very beginning. Moment of reflection gives interesting meaning to these anecdotes. A good story will contain both the anecdotes and the moments of reflections, and flips back and forth. I never thought of storytelling this way – storytelling, as I have learned, considered of an intro, development, climax, and conclusion. Realizing how not all stories have to stick to that format is refreshing, and also gives me a lot more ideas about previous stories I have thought of but failed to tell because I thought they did not fit the format.
Another thing about storytelling Ira Glass talks about is killing stories. He says that abandoning bad stories is essential in making a better story live. He explicitly says that we should enjoy the killing (of stories). I personally think this would be a very difficult thing to do – many people probably work on their stories for a really long time and probably put a lot of work into it. It will not be easy to kill it and enjoy it if you have put so much of yourself into it. However, I do understand that if we linger onto one story too long, we won’t be able to find great stories, which is already hard as it is.
The one point Ira Glass brings up that really hit home with me personally was how we should be ourselves when telling these stories. Too many times, we try to copy what is on TV, in movies, on radio, in books, and so forth and try to bury our own voices. I have done this as well, when I am writing or drawing or making things, to copy other people’s work instead of trying to find my own style. I realize now that being yourself and telling your story in your own voice will make your work compelling enough, and I hope many other storytellers realize that too.