Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Crossley-Holland’

Storytelling Starters ~Making memories

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

“We never thought of telling him a story”: the comment came from a smiling young couple with a boy in a pushchair after a talk I’d given at a nursery school. It will always ring in my mind. Stories, memories, family tales: they are not always happy but they are always important.

Going on holiday

As for actual events … well, by the time you read this blog, dear reader, I will be in Corfu. Hooray! A whole week’s holiday, hopefully in lovely warm sun. The weather forecast for Corfu seems pretty confident it’s going to be glorious there. But whatever the weather it’ll be time to read, swim, lie about, be reminded of the taste of ouzo and perhaps make one or two forays to admire the scenery.  (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tell it/Write it

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

scissorsThe differences between writing and telling a story are well worth thinking about – and from both points of view. Here are some of my observations.


A told story can feel long-winded if it’s written in the same way as it’s told. In the telling, it has to feel like no uncomfortable gaps are made in the narrative of it. So for a start, if you’re writing it down, it’s best to prune out the ‘ands’ and the ‘buts’ you’d commonly use to fill the gaps when you’re telling. I learned this back in 1990 when I was putting together Time for Telling, the collection of children’s stories from around the world I’d been asked to make by Kingfisher Books. I assembled the collection by asking practising storytellers from all kinds of cultural backgrounds if they’d send me a favourite  best story. A really good one that arrived from Scottish traveller storyteller, Duncan Williamson, needed to be pared quite a lot. He was, par excellence, a teller.


Conversely, when you’re writing a story, you can afford to elaborate in the description, perhaps using more studied and literary phrases than when you’re in the act of telling. Telling, you’re taking the kind of pace that allows people to visualise things as you go. You want to leave room for them to see things for themselves. Writing, you can afford to do something different. You want to give your story the distinctive character that can only come from you. I’ve often observed this when writing down stories I tell, often to give as reminders to people in workshops or for the purpose of this blog. In those situations, I tend to keep the story to the minimum, emphasising the action. If I were writing the same story for a published book, I’d expect myself to beautify it, giving free rein to my own visualisation of it. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ So many stories

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Sometimes it proves very difficult to hold together the different levels of story that come your way in this hard world.

Festival at the Edge (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ A Fresh Look

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

This is an excellent time of the year to take a fresh look at oral storytelling and what it has to offer. About now, Year 7s in Secondary School are usually getting going on some kind of getting-to-know-you project. Who are you? Who am I? It’s part of familiarisation, becoming acquainted and establishing new bonds in a new form and a new school. At the other end of the spectrum, very small children are taking their first steps into education. Attending Nursery School for the first time, they are hearing strange voices, learning new routines, getting used to being with lots of other children.

At this point, I urge teachers and childcare workers across the age-range to consider how told stories engage our attention whatever our age and circumstances. Told stories are when you sit up and take notice. Someone is speaking directly to you – and it’s not to give instructions or obviously to teach you new things. It’s to tell you something that might interest you as another human being.

Sources of information

Plenty of information about oral storytelling is available here on the Internet, on storytellers’ websites and on Youtube, as well as in books, on storytelling courses and in storytelling clubs and even in back numbers of this Blog. Picking up on the art and the craft of storytelling can open new doors for the teller and the hearers. (more…)