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Telling stories


Telling stories

Storytelling is a skill that can help you in your career, especially if you go into marketing or sales. You want to convey and spark emotions in your listeners.

  • In your family who tells the best stories?
  • What is your favourite family story?
  • Write about it or explain the story to your language partner.

My grandfather always told the best stories, and you could never tell if they were true or not.

Musical stories

Write a story about your favourite piece of music. You can use any type of music, and write any type of story – a true story, or made up fiction.

Once upon a future time …

Rewrite your favourite fairytale, so that it is set far, far in the future. Consider the following aspects:

  • Weather and climate.
  • Environment – city or remote outpost, earth or some distant planet.
  • Technology, or a lack of technology.
  • People (or aliens) – how they appear and act.
  • Culture and language changes.
  • Any world-shattering events that happened in between that could change your fairytale in significant ways.

A story from a photo

You can use photo prompts to practice writing and telling stories. For example, tell a story about the building below. Either write a story, or if you are comfortable, spin a tale to a language partner.

Some prompts, if you need them:

  • What was the building used for?
  • Who used the building?
  • What was it like when it was new and beautiful?
  • What happened?
  • Why was it abandoned?
  • Who lives there now?
  • How would you feel if you were exploring the building at night?
  • Do you know of any other buildings like this?
  • What will happen to the building now?

An abandoned hotel in Fukushima city, Japan, 2010

Storytelling tense tips

  • Use the past tense to describe actions that happened in the past, or past habits.
  • Use the past continuous tense to describe the background, or a long action that was interrupted by an event in the past.
  • Use the past perfect tense to describe experiences or actions that happened before a past event.
  • Use the simple present tense, present continuous tense (or the appropriate tense) when quoting what someone said.

You don’t always have to use the past tense when telling stories

Curiosity on the red planet

Imagine you were the Curiosity rover, and you have just touched down on the surface of Mars.

  • Describe what you can see.
  • What is happening around you, right now?
  • Give a running commentary about what you are doing, what you are testing, and what you find.

Now imagine you are running out of power and the scientists back on earth are going to end your project.

  • What is running through your thoughts? What will be the last thing you say, you think of?

Your ideal day

Write a story about a person who lives through your ideal day. Be as descriptive as possible:

  • What do they do?
  • Where do they go?
  • What do they think?
  • What do they see?
  • What do they say?
  • Who do they meet and speak to?
  • How do they feel throughout the day?

Exploring a remote island

You have a chance to explore a remote, cloud covered island on a stormy and windy day.

  • How do you get there?
  • What do you find?
  • What happens on your journey?
  • Who do you take with you?
  • What supplies do you bring?
  • Use the present tense to write or speak about your journey, as if the reader was there with you, every step of the way.

A dark and deadly night

Write the opening of a murder-mystery novel or movie. Be detailed – set the scene and introduce your characters with descriptive language. Hint at the motives and backgrounds of your characters.

Leave the readers hungering for more!

A firey sunset

Categories | PROMPTS
Tags | conversation, writing
05 May 2018