Thomas Doty – Storyteller

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Getting Out of the Way

Years ago an Inuit elder gave me one of the best definitions of storytelling I have ever heard. She said, "A storyteller creates the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself." I once asked a class of sixth graders what she had meant, and one girl blurted out, "That's easy. Get the storyteller out of the story!" Yes! How can we share our stories with ease and grace, and in such a way that our listeners walk away from the telling feeling and contemplating the deep emotional truths of each story -- those wondrous layers of wisdom! -- rather than the personality of the storyteller?

In addition to the traditional native myths I share in third person, I also tell personal stories in first person, including my original Doty & Coyote stories (also in first person). This brings up a question: How do I get the storyteller out of a first person story? Simple. Simply engage the character of each story's narrator the same way I would any character in any story, and insist that Mister Storyteller slip silently into the wings, unheard from until after the telling when he's permitted to give me "notes" providing he honors our agreement: He leaves his heart with me on stage so every character shares from a place of genuineness and grace.