Tell Us a Story

We are currently seeking people interested in telling a story on stage at this year's festival. Story's should be around 5-7 minutes in length, should have a clear beginning and ending, and should relate in some way to the river, the Ozarks, or some other aspect of life in this unique part of the world.

Everyone has a story to tell, and the sharing of stories enriches all of our lives. The following story tips are provided for consideration by anyone who has a tale to tell. They are adapted from those presented by the Moth, an organization dedicated to fostering the art of true stories told live.

Make an effort to tell your story, rather than read it. The storyteller connects more fully with the audience when the page is not the focus.. If you can tell your story without notes, do it! If you do need to use notes, use an outline, rather than write the story out and read it.

What are the stakes?  What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer this, then think of a different story. A story without stakes is an essay and is best experienced on the page, not the stage.

Have a great first line that sets up the stakes or grabs attention.    How can you summarize your story without telling the ending..   How do you draw the listener in with the first line or two.

Steer clear of meandering endings  They kill a story! Your last line should be clear in your head before you start. Yes, bring the audience along with you as you contemplate what transpires in your story, but remember, you are driving the story, and must know the final destination. Keep your hands on the wheel!

Know your story well enough so you can have fun! Make an outline, memorize your bullet points if you can, and play with the details. Enjoy yourself. Imagine you are at a dinner party, not a deposition.

Avoid doing a stand-up comedy routine: Instead let your humor come forth in the story, let the story be funny, rather than use the story telling as a means for you to show your comic skill.

Avoid rants: Take up this anger some other way, or skip therapy and shape your anger into a story with some sort of resolution. (Stories = therapy!)

No essays: Your eloquent musings are beautiful and look pretty on the page but unless you can make them gripping and set up stakes, they won’t work on stage.

Remember that those listening are rooting for you.  Speak to one person in the crowd. And, most importantly - Have fun! Take a breath, no need to rush, rather experience each word and enjoy the journey.