Traditional Material to Inspire New Stories

by Diane Macklin, STF Presenter

Whether you want to explore a story or are looking for a new tale with a slightly different twist, there is a method crafted by our story-ancestors that can open up the world of a story and give it an updated look or feel.

Once the first story was uttered into the universe, humans have latched onto tales that resonate with the heart, mind, body, and soul. The story is ingested, the nutrients find their way to the places within in us most at need… and for those who live to tell a tale, the tongue (or body) retells the story with a slightly different perspective. One that gives the story continued life, in a time it was not born, but one desperate for it.

The ripe potential of fables is present in the simplicity of structure, combined with the complexity of the moral and lessons. The beauty of the tale told over centuries, is that it works! The opportunity presented by these stories is limitless. The formula is simple: Take a well-told tale, add a little bit of mysterious you, and try it out!

How to add a bit of “mysterious you”?

First, make sure you like the story. Passion for a subject usually leads to an investment in a deeper connection with such subject. Working with something you can connect with is a step in the right story-direction!

Second, investigate the story. Explore the themes, characters, setting, and plot… What do you appreciate about the story? What lessons do you gain from the story? Is there someone or something from your past present in the tale …and in what way? Which character are you most like? Why would you want to share this story with someone else? Etc., etc.!

Third, clear your mind (whether it’s through prayer, meditation, or any other healthy means of becoming an open vessel) and envision the story with an alteration. For example, the Aesop fable of the Donkey and the Lion’s Skin is one of my favorites. However, I struggled with the idea of fox as the one to discover the donkey’s disguise and longed for a sense of compassion at the end. As a result, I thought about why the Donkey chose to put on the lion’s skin and replaced the fox with one of my favorite animals, a turtle. The story shifted and the turtle repeated what I wish more people heard everyday, “You’re wonderfully made. Wonderful! Just be yourself.” As a result, the story took on a shape that fit me a bit better.

Where to try it out?

With a trusted friend(s) and story enthusiast who loves you, but can help you explore the choices you’ve made and give you an honest, yet compassionate, response to the story.

If you can, join us at Sharing the Fire 2017, and you will find a host of supportive people ready to create and hear stories!

Do you love traditional tales?  Do you have a favorite that you want to make your own.  Sign up for Diane’s STF workshop

Traditional Material to Inspire New Stories


from 10:30 am to 12:00 noon on Saturday, March 25th. Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.

Have personal experience of your own to share on this topic? Leave a comment.

Diane Macklin at STF 2017Diane Macklin has been an educator for over 18 years and a full-time performer plus teaching artist for 14 years. She has led workshops for adults through Kennedy Center’s Changing Education through the Arts program and other organizations conducting trainings for educators; a variety of museums for their docents; a few storytelling conferences/festivals (including National Storytelling Network); and various organizations for parents and families. In all cases, she aims to meet the needs of the participants. Flexibility and adaptability have been helpful companions to this work. However, a joyful presence and respect for those participating are some of her best assets as a presenter.


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