What Makes For the Best Stories?

mark twain

Tonight Thursday, June 20th at Moto Saloon (8 pm) will be our last Big Blue Door Jam of our inaugural year. (July we’ll be holding our second Big Blue Door Slam that brings back winners of the monthly Jams. Then comes our summer break.)

Audience members, volunteer judges, storytellers, and Big Blue Door staff are known to debate from time to time what makes for the best stories…

The stories about the most amazing incidents? Those once-in-a-lifetime events that admit the rest of us into an experience of danger, exultation, or just-plain weirdness that we otherwise never would have? These are the stories told by people who have done things or seen things that the rest of us just haven’t. Through these stories we get to live different lives.

The stories that are amazingly written or composed? The stories with balance of structure and detail, unity and clarity, metaphor and movement that takes the raw stuff of life and pulls it together into a beginning, middle and end? These are the stories of lives that might not be too different from our own, but the lives are shown in a new way, from a new perspective. Through these stories we get to live our own lives in a different light.

Or the stories told by amazing performers? These are the stories that are really an excuse to listen to a storyteller who could tell us about their toothpaste and be interesting. These stories bring a specificity and intensity that comes from a unique, honest, and candid point of view. Through these stories we get to live as different people.

In our storytelling classes we teach all three: finding strong material, organizing it effectively, and getting used to being yourself in front of people. Our monthly Big Blue Door Jams feature storytellers who sign up with us (shows@bigbluedoor.org) so it’s always exciting to see the ever-changing monthly mix of strengths and styles.

As much as I love hearing storytellers find their voices and grow over the course of months, my personal favorite types of stories might still be first stories. When people who have never told a true personal story in public from memory before, bravely stand in front of a room with a microphone revealing something from their own lives. Whether they’ve performed in some other medium like acting or singing, or whether they’ve never performed anything before, I love the sense of discovery.

It’s been an incredible year or stories for Big Blue Door but it’s not quite over yet. Come out tonight and hear some first-time storytellers and some veterans tell true stories inspired by the theme of ‘Nature.’



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