Speak Up Storytelling: Ted Olds

On episode #49 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from a linguist who tries to get me out of hot water, and we learn about a new and unique way of recording Homework for Life.  

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how to dig deeper into story ideas to allow an otherwise surface level story say more.

Next we listen to Ted Old's high stakes story about a fourth grade multiplication contest.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The escalation of stakes 

  2. Brevity in storytelling 

  3. Choosing when and what to describe

  4. The advantages of keeping your story "in the moment"

  5. The disadvantages of adjectives

  6. Making your story about something bigger than the story itself

Next, we answer questions about our future employment options and Moth StorySLAM advice.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Kat Koppett

On episode #48 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from listeners who are using Homework for Life in new and interesting ways. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how identifying your weirdness and asking yourself, "Why do you do the things that you do?" can often lead to new storytelling ideas. 

Next we listen to Kat Koppett's story about a big decision involving a stripper pole, a broken popcorn popper, and an Obama impersonator.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The power of contrast in storytelling 

  2. The pros and cons of constantly dissecting stories

  3. The advantages of clearly defined stakes

  4. Being in the moment during the telling of a story

  5. The BAbC and CABC formats of storytelling 

  6. How changing the order of information being presented can really make or break a scene

Next, we answer questions about privacy issues in storytelling and what makes a great host. Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Dare To Be Human: https://www.daretobehumanpodcast.com

MOPCO Improv Theater: https://www.mopco.org

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Matthew Dicks

On episode #47 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we pass on some advice about computer screens from a listener and an unexpected benefit of Homework for Life from another. Then we solicit some suggestions and advice on publicizing my next novel, Twenty-one Truths About Love 

Then Elysha departs and we listen to my story about trying to rent a car to Boca Raton with an expired driver's license.

After listening, I discuss:

  1. A variety of strategies for shortening and elongating stories

  2. Effective places to begin stories

  3. Dealing with facts too good to be true

  4. Reasons to break my own rules

  5. Identifying and enhancing surprise  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

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Speak Up Storytelling: Corey Jeffreys

On episode #46 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we offer a further correction on a previous episode and read a couple emails from listeners about a new baby boy and a recent 100 day Homework for Life champion. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how multiple moments from Homework for Life can be combined into a great story, and how gravity and weight can be added to an anecdote to make something that might seem light and amusing far more meaningful.

Next we listen to Corey Jeffrey's story about a trip to Mexico, a hole in a door, and the Backstreet Boys. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The way a moment from the past and the present are fused together to create a deeply meaningful story

  2. Portals to the past and present

  3. Avoid stakes that fail to pay off

  4. Slowing down the action at the appropriate time in a story

  5. The importance of scenes (and physical locations) in storytelling

  6. Efficiency of language 

  7. The clever and unexpected use of an expletive 

Next, we answer questions about vulnerability and living with Matt.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Who Really Said "You Should Kill Your Darlings?"

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Jeffrey Freiser

On episode #45 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we offer some corrections on previous episodes and read an email from a recent 100 day Homework for Life champion. 

ALSO, UPCOMING SHOWS:

April 27: "Put Me in Coach: Stories of Athletic Endeavors” at CHS
May 18: Speak Up Storytelling: Live podcast recording at CHS
June 8: “Nature Calls: Stories of the Outdoors” at Infinity Hall
August 17: Solo storytelling show, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how a moment that might be embarrassing or small in the minds of some can become a fully realized story when you allow for introspection and the ask yourself this simple question: "Why do you do the things that you do?

Next we listen to Jeffrey Freiser's story about a first date and the ensuing adventure. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The unusual role that humor plays in this story

  2. The way that different brands of humor achieve different results

  3. Telling a story in scenes in order to activate imagination

  4. Opportunities for misdirection 

  5. Momentum  

Next, we answer questions about finding the endings of stories and the joyous but sometimes problematic response that people often have to our stories.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

STORIES ABOUT LITTLE THINGS THAT SAY A LOT

Jeff Simmermon's "Subway Moment" 
Adam Wade's "Hoboken Roast Beef Story"
Alfonso Lacayo's "The Bad Haircut"

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop (beginner), Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop (advanced), Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Try new things. Aggressively, relentlessly, and constantly.

Chase your dreams but also try new things.

Ever since I was 17 years old, I was chasing my dreams of being a professional writer.

In 1987, I was writing term papers for my classmates, earning money for the first time as a writer.

I used that money to buy my first car.

In 1990, I was writing columns on a bulletin board system - a small localized, online network and a precursor to the Internet.

I went to college to study creative writing. I started and stopped many terrible novels. Wrote a novel that didn’t sell. Wrote short stories and poetry. Wrote another novel that didn’t sell. Entered writing contests. Wrote editorials for local newspapers. Wrote for college newspapers and online zines.

I finally sold my first novel in 2007 - a full 20 years after beginning my journey.

Chase your dreams relentlessly.

But try new things, too. Definitely try new things.

In July of 2011, I took a stage at The Moth in New York City for what I thought would be the one story I would ever tell. “One and done,” I said. I was not dreaming of becoming a professional storyteller. I was simply fulfilling a promise. Satisfying a curiosity. Trying something new for the sake of trying something new.

That was less than eight years ago.

This week, while I was on vacation from my classroom, I did the following:

On Saturday, I worked at Yale New Haven Hospital, teaching doctors, nurses, patients, and the family members of patients how to tell stories as part of an ongoing storytelling initiative that I am helping to spearhead.

On Sunday I performed in Dorchester, MA for Now Listen Here, a storytelling show produced by a friend.

On Monday I was at Westover School, a boarding school in Middlebury, CT, teaching teachers and their students to tell stories and performing for the student body.

On Tuesday, I was on the campus of MIT, teaching students, faculty, and staff to tell stories.

On Wednesday I was at Amity Regional High School, teaching students to tell stories and hosting a story slam. Earlier in the day, I also consulted with the CEO of an engineering firm, helping him to tell stories.

Later that night, I competed in a Moth StorySLAM in Boston. I watched two former storytelling students tell stories onstage. I told a new story of my own. I finished in second place to an 89 year-old woman whose daughter I had taught to tell stories.

It’s not often that I like to lose, but I was happy that night.

On Thursday and Friday, I was in Burlington, VT, teaching attorneys to tell stories, working with their clients and witnesses to craft stories, and assisting them to craft and revise opening statements.

On Sunday, Elysha and I will be producing a storytelling showcase in collaboration with Voices of Hope. After working with the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors for weeks, they will be telling stories about themselves and their parents and grandparents.

Sunday night, I will be performing at a synagogue in a show honoring the principal of a local Jewish Day School.

That’s a crazy list. Too crazy, really. At the time I booked the week, I wasn’t sure if Elysha would be back to work, so I filled every day with opportunities to earn income in the event we desperately needed it. I could really use a vacation from my vacation, but still, it’s a crazy list.

Back in 2011, I couldn’t imagine any of it happening. I didn’t plan on any of it happening.

Most important, storytelling wasn’t my dream. It was simply trying something new with no expectation of return on time or investment. Like the standup I’m performing today and the consulting that I’m doing with advertising agencies and the podcast that Elysha and I launched a year ago, I was just trying something new.

Staying young.

Placing irons in the fire.

Creating possibility.

Chase your dreams. But also aggressively, relentlessly try new things.

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Unfortunate restroom encounters at MIT

I was teaching storytelling at MIT yesterday. It was a long but exciting day.

In addition to teaching two workshops, I received an amazing tour of their new nanotechnology facility, and I’m now convinced that nanotechnology is going to save the world.

You wouldn’t believe the things what scientists can do today with a few atoms.

I also met some incredible people, walked around the campus for a couple hours, taught about 100 students, faculty, and staff, and even reconnected with a couple of old friends, too.

At one point, I passed two young men in a hallway who were multiplying fractions aloud. It was the kind of thing that you’d only expect to see in a movie about a place like MIT, but no. These things actually happen at MIT. Students just walk around, calculating and debating mathematical principles in between classes. Chalk boards are filled with equations that I couldn’t begin to understand.

Very smart people walk the halls of that institution. I felt like a small, insignificant fool crawling amongst intellectual giants.

It also became readily apparent to me why I was not an MIT student. And both times, it happened in a restroom.

During our first break, I left the classroom and walked down the hall to use the restroom. I pushed open the door and walked in, only to find myself in the company of three young women. They turned stared at me, the looks on their faces indicating that this was not a gender neutral restroom. I paused, smiled, and said, “And this is why I’m not MIT material” and left.

Then I turned right and pushed open the door clearly marked “Men.” I stepped over to one of the eight urinals to take care of business. I was the only person in the restroom when I entered, but a moment later, another man entered. Of the eight available urinals, I was using the second from the end. The man stepped to the urinal beside me, which was strange. With six urinals to my left, most men would’ve chosen one farther away, creating some distance between us.

I thought, “That’s an aggressive move by this guy. What gives?”

Then I wondered, “Is this just some hangup that I have? Is this me being stupid and weird, or is this guy a little socially awkward? Who’s in the wrong here?”

Having just taught my class about the importance of recognizing small moments from our lives, I returned to class and told my students about my encounter in the women’s restroom. Then I told them about the aggressive, possibly social awkward man in the men’s room and my quandary over whether the guy was weird or I was being stupid.

Turns out the man, named Tom, was in the room. He was attending my class. I’d been staring at him for more than an hour.

As you can see, I am not MIT material.

Happily, we laughed about the moment, and oddly, he was having a similar moment at the urinal. He told me that he entered the restroom in a bit of a fog, chose the urinal without thought, and then realized that there was a man beside him. He turned, realized it was me, and quickly turned away, thinking, “Damn. That’s Matt. Now what? I can’t talk to him while we’re peeing like this. And why am I standing so close to him? Damn.”

Tom ultimately gave me the tour of the nanotech facility. He gave me some nanotech swag to take home to the kids. He offered to tour my family around MIT if we’re ever in the city,. He was generous at every turn.

I liked him a lot.

It all turned out fine.

But no, I don’t expect MIT to be inviting me to work with them for more than a day at a time. A person who can’t navigate their restrooms without incident really doesn’t belong amongst intellectual giants.

Speak Up Storytelling: Sarasweet Rabidoux Kelsey

On episode #44 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we introduce the "new" new cover of my next novel, discuss a bizarre coincidence, respond to a heartwarming email from a listener, and ask listeners for feedback on a reward for Homework for Life champions. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how a simple sentence or two - when the words touch your heart- can be enough to tell a great story. 

Next we listen to Sarasweet Rabidoux Kelsey's story about an unfortunate prom encounter. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Subtlety in storytelling

  2. The power of nostalgia

  3. Great opening lines

  4. The connective tissue of great storytelling

  5. When it's okay to reference pop culture and when it's not

  6. Saying just enough to serve the story

Next, we answer questions about shortening the length of stories and competing in storytelling competitions against "big stories. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Heloise and the Savoir Faire 

Matt Stone and Trey Parker on But and Therefore

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Matthew Dicks

On episode #43 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about a moment on a Moth GrandSLAM stage and a moment in a classroom that unearth two potential stories.

Then Elysha departs, and we listen to Matthew Dicks's story about an unusual late night walk with a friend. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The best place and most effective way of beginning a story

  2. The importance of beginning and ending a story well

  3. Choosing appropriate backstory and the most effective way of presenting it in a story

  4. Strategies for preserving surprise in a story

  5. Volume and pacing during a performance

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

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I lost The Moth GrandSLAM on Tuesday night. This is how I feel about losing.

On Tuesday night, I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM at the Cutler Majestic in Boston.

It was my 25th GrandSLAM championship since 2011, but no matter how many of these championships I compete in, the GrandSLAM never gets old for me.

It’s my favorite storytelling show by far.

I told what I thought might be the best story I’ve ever told at a Moth GrandSLAM or any story slam, but when the scores were tallied at the end of the show, I had finished in fourth place.

For a person who is exceedingly competitive and possibly obsessed with winning, I was surprisingly fine with my fourth place finish, for two reasons.

Two years ago, at a GrandSLAM championship in New York City, I drew the first spot in the show, which makes it almost impossible to win. As great a story as you may tell, recency bias will doom your chances every time. I’ve won from first position at two Moth StorySLAMs in my life, but the quality of stories in a Moth GrandSLAM make this highly unlikely if not impossible.

In fact, telling a story in the first half of a show makes it hard to win at a Moth GrandSLAM.

After drawing the #1 from the hat, I started pacing around the stage, angry and annoyed. Muttering under my breath. Snarling.

In short, I was acting like a jerk.

Thankfully, Elysha was with me that night in New York. She pulled me aside and said, “This is your 20th GrandSLAM. You’ve won six of them. For most of these people, it’s their first GrandSLAM ever. Probably the biggest stage they’ve ever performed on. Maybe their only GrandSLAM ever. So how about you stop acting like a jerk and just be grateful to be here.”

She was right. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Ever since that night, I’ve approach every one of these championship competitions with an open heart. Remarkably, I’ve stopped obsessing over winning.

I wish I could say the same for The Moth’s open-mic StorySLAMs. I’ve won 39 of them, so I shouldn’t obsess so much over winning them either, but winning a StorySLAM gains me entry into the GrandSLAM, which I love so much. So winning the StorySLAM remains important to me.

It gets me something I want.

But not the GrandSLAM. Instead of focusing on winning, I focus on having fun, telling a great story, and assisting my competitors whenever possible. If it’s their first or second time on a GrandSLAM stage, I always take a few minutes to advise them on the tricks and techniques that I’ve developed over the years to tell a story to a theater of 1,000 people. I try to ease their nerves, make them laugh, and allow them to relax enough to do their best.

Elysha was right. I should be grateful to be able to stand on that stage and tell a story, and I am.

Even better, the winner of Tuesday night’s Moth GrandSLAM was one of my storytelling students. She had spent a weekend with me at Kripalu in 2018, and the story she told on Tuesday night to beat me was a story that I had workshopped with her months ago.

In fact, I had three former storytelling students in the cast with me on Tuesday night. All three had gotten their start in storytelling in one of my workshops, and one them, Tom Ouimet, a brilliant storyteller has graced the Speak Up stage many, many times.

This also wasn’t the first time that a former student has beaten me in a StorySLAM and GrandSLAM. It’s happened several times, and I’m sure it’ll happen again. It’s also not the first time that I helped to craft and revise a story that was later used to defeat me.

As a teacher, this makes me very happy.

So I finished fourth on Tuesday night. I told a story about my lifetime struggle for faith and a moment of transcendence in a hot dog line at a minor league baseball stadium. I told the story from fourth position - not a great spot in the lineup - but I’ve won Moth GrandSLAMs from the second and fourth position in the past, so it’s certainly possible.

It really might be the best story I’ve ever told in a GrandSLAM.

But I didn’t win. That’s okay.

I saw some old friends. Made some new ones. Spoke to audience members who loved my story. I even signed six copies of my book Storyworthy during intermission, brought to the show by audience members who knew I was performing.

It was a great night. I was grateful to take the stage. I was thrilled to watch my students perform. I was honored to hear all of the amazing stories told that night.

Winning would’ve been nice, but it’s not the most important thing anymore. Not by a long shot.

Spring! Then murder.

Spring has sprung!

Every March this tiny patch of crocuses bloom in our front yard. It's the first sign that winter is finally in the rearview mirror and warm and sunny days are ahead. 

On Sunday the crocuses finally appeared. Tiny, purple and orange bursts of life from an otherwise cold, lifeless ground. We were thrilled. We treasure these little flowers so much. 

Ten minutes later, while our backs were turned, the little girl next door ripped them the flowers from the ground and left them lying in a pile on the dead grass like trash.

She didn't know how much these little flowers mean to us. It’s not her fault.

Still, my children and I were upset. We really love this patch of purple and orange gold.

But I often while teaching storytelling that what’s bad for you in real life is often good for the story. Or as I’ve heard my friend, Catherine Burns of The Moth often say:

“You either have a good time or you have a good story.”

You can bet this moment made it onto my Homework for Life, and it's probably storyworthy as well. 

Amusing. Surprising. Joyous. Plus a little anger and some sadness and grief. 

Good material to start a story. Maybe not a story worthy of the stage (though you never know), but entertaining nonetheless.

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Speak Up Storytelling: Ted Zablotsky

On episode #42 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we read a heartwarming email from a listener about Homework for Life and our new favorite review from a listener.

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how storyworthy moments can often be identified by finding moments in our lives that cause us to ask big questions and express controversial ideas. 

Next we listen to Ted Zablotsky's Voices of Hope story about returning to his father's hometown decades after the Holocaust.  

Voices of Hope is an organization dedicated to preserving the stories of the Holocaust, and we partner with this organization to help the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors tell their stories. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Telling stories about other people through the lens of your own story

  2. The effectiveness of telling your story in scenes

  3. The power of a subtle ending

  4. Remaining within the moment of a story at all times and not projecting forward

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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A man of many sexual exploits. Apparently. Maybe.

Happily, I have a thick skin. As an author of several books and a person who writes on the Internet in a variety of contexts, I receive a lot of less-than-glowing responses and reviews. These come in the form of online reviews, tweets, emails, and Facebook messages.

While a vast majority of my book reviews have admittedly been positive, some are not.

Some are downright scathing.

Many authors avoid reading reviews (or claim they do) as an act of self preservation. They refuse to look at their reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads because the negative feedback can really hurt.

I’m not a supporter of this policy for two reasons:

  1. As an author, I write books with the intent of selling them to readers. Ignoring reviews amounts to ignoring your customers, and for me, that makes no sense. If my customers have a consistent complaint about my work, I want to know about it.

  2. If a negative review or a scathing comment is going to somehow impact my sense of self-worth or my psyche, I’m in the wrong line of work. Not everyone is going to love what you make, and some of them are going to say it aloud.

An added bonus to reading your reviews is you occasionally get the negative review that causes you to laugh, like the one I read yesterday for Storyworthy.

The person wrote:

__________________________________________

It is a great book and effective map for great storytelling. But too many references glorifying the man's sexual exploits for me though it could be worse.

__________________________________________

I loved this bit of criticism. First of all, I had never considered myself a man of many sexual exploits, so I’m kind of thrilled that I might be more exciting than I once thought.

And what does “it could be worse” mean? Does this person have knowledge of my sexual exploits and knows that I held back? Is he or she implying that I could’ve shared a lot more? And if so, what?

I also have no idea what this person is talking about. Does Storyworthy really contain a multitude of references glorifying my sexual exploits? I honestly can’t recall a single one, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shared more sex stories than I had planned. Maybe I unintentionally overshared (which I’ve been known to do from time to time).

If you’ve read the book recently, could you let me know? I really want to know.

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Speak Up Storytelling: Tom Ouimet

On episode #41 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we congratulate friend of the podcast Robin Gelfenbien on her recent (and momentous) Moth StorySLAM victory. Robin is the producer and host of Yum's the Word, an award-winning NYC storytelling show and podcast:

http://www.yumsthewordshow.com

Next, we pass on AirTable, a Homework for Life suggestion from a listener:

https://airtable.com
https://vimeo.com/album/3513053/format:detail

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about the challenge of tell a hero story when the act of heroism is not all that impressive or interesting. 

Next we listen to Tom Ouimet's story about a secret in his pants. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The exceptional layering and efficiency of the story

  2. The strategic use of pauses and silence to enhance humor 

  3. The importance of choice and consistency when it comes to the perspective adopted by the storyteller

  4. The escalation of stakes

  5. Making choices consistent with the tone and theme of a story

Next, we answer questions about critiquing stories and telling stories from a third person perspective. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
May 18: Storytelling workshop (advanced), CT Historical Society
June 1: Storytelling workshop (master class), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: John Smith-Horn

On episode #40 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling.

In our followup segment, we announce our first LIVE PODCAST RECORDING!

May 18: CT Historical Society. Tickets just $5. All proceeds go to the CT Historical Society.

Purchase here: https://chs.org/event/speak-up-podcast-live

ALSO, UPCOMING SHOWS:

March 16: “Exposed: Lies, Secrets, and Indiscretions Revealed” at Space Ballroom

March 30: "Courage" at Real Art Ways

We also discuss a listener's suggestion regarding pausing at the very end of a story (as well as some of our strategies to get yourself ready to tell your story) and another listener's suggestion of the Day One app for Homework for Life:

https://dayoneapp.com

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about the need for storytellers to keep their eyes opened for moments of transformation and realization in their own lives (however small they may seem) in order to find new stories to tell. 

Next we listen to John Smith-Horn's story about making cookies.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The components of a perfect beginning to a story

  2. The power of effective vocal modulation

  3. Telling the story from the perspective (and maintaining that perspective) of your former self

  4. The way that small stories that say many things (and important, meaningful things)

  5. Revealing the secrets and suspense in a story by spooling out the moment and allowing the audience to bear witness to the unveiling

Next, we answer questions about finding themes in storytelling, maintaining audience interest in less formal storytelling settings, and the struggle to find stories on every single day of your life.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
May 18: Storytelling workshop (advanced), CT Historical Society
June 1: Storytelling workshop (master class), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

  • Conversations with the disabled

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Speak Up Storytelling #29: Matthew Dicks

On episode #39 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew Dicks talks storytelling!

With report cards and parent-teacher conferences filling Elysha's week, she takes some time off from the podcast, shifting our format again. I'm going it alone this week. Rather than posting a re-run, we have some exciting new content for you.  

Hope you enjoy! 

In our follow up segment, Elysha and I talk about the cover release of my new novel Twenty-one Truths About Love, which you can see in the show notes. 

Then, instead of listening and critiquing a new story, I play three of my stories (chosen for a specific reason) with some commentary about the crafting of each. 

After listening, I discuss:

  1. The variety of chronological formats available to storytellers

  2. When to choose a specific chronological format for a story

  3. The strategies used to preserve and enhance surprise in a story

LINKS

http://speakupstorytelling.libsyn.com/matthew-dicks-trio

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Speak Up at Space Ballroom on March 16:
Exposed: Lies, Secrets, and Indiscretions Revealed

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
May 18: Storytelling workshop (advanced), CT Historical Society
June 1: Storytelling workshop (master class), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA 
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

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Speak Up Storytelling #38: Lauren Doninger

On episode #38 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling.

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming shows and workshops and offer a shout-out to a listener who we recently met IRL!

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about four entries in Matt's Homework for Life, and how when combined, they can tell a complete story. We also talk about the value of saying things that other may think but not often speak aloud, and how even when presenting yourself in a less-than-positive light, a storyteller can get an audience on their side.  

Next we listen to Lauren Doninger's story about her son's illness and her fight to be heard. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The weaving of details throughout a story rather than piling them at the top

  2. Connecting character details to plot points to allow them to feel seamlessly integrated into the story

  3. Effective ways of teaching our audience about content needed to understand our stories (without bringing the story to a halt)

  4. Effective summarizing within a story

  5. Revealing information (and a surprise) by remaining in the moment

  6. Activating imagination at the top of a story

  7. Injecting humor into the beginning of a story 

  8. Identifying and fully developing critical scenes in a story

Next, we answer questions about titling stories and turning a negative moment into a positive moment. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Speak Up at Space Ballroom on March 3:
Exposed: Lies, Secrets, and Indiscretions Revealed

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
May 18: Storytelling workshop (advanced), CT Historical Society
June 1: Storytelling workshop (master class), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA 
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

  • Westworld on HBO

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling #37: Steve Brouse

On episode #37 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling along with storyteller and guest host Steve Brouse! 

In our followup segment, we talk about how a listener is using Homework for Life to remain in communication with his son, who is completing basic training. We also review listener feedback on the epic debate over the description of telepathy in Maire Greene's story. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about turning an unexpected snowball fight into a story that pushes back against conventional norms, and Steve Brouse shares his Homework for Life moment, combining two moments into a single idea for a story. 

Next we listen to Steve Brouse's story of a missed phone call and all that happened because of it. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The value of opening windows into worlds we might not otherwise ever see 

  2. Effective ways of teaching our audience about content needed to understand our stories (without bringing the story to a halt)

  3. When and how to use humor effectively in a story

  4. The way in which the crafting of a story can also be a discovery process for the storyteller 

  5. Managing emotions during the telling of a story

  6. Identifying and fully developing critical scenes in a story

Next, we answer a question about teaching storytelling to children. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

  • Crashing on HBO

Matt:

  • Commissioning portraits of meaningful places for loved ones (via Etsy)

Steve:

  • Puzzles comprised of family photos (via Shutterfly)

 

Speak Up Storytelling: Marie Greene

On episode #35 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about our confusion between Tom of Brisbane and Tom of Long Island. We also discuss the origin of "telling stories from scars and not wounds" as well as advice on handling our explicit episodes of the podcast. 

We also announce our Seattle ticketing for this summer's workshop and performance. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about finding memories from the past through Homework for Life. We also discuss list-making in storytelling and the importance of having as many options as possible when crafting stories.

Next we listen to Maire Greene's story about grave shopping. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Subtlety in storytelling  

  2. The power of bringing an audience into a new world

  3. Small sentences that build stakes and momentum in a story

  4. Accessibility of the story (Elysha and Matt disagree like never before!)

  5. Reminding the audience of key characters and plot points if they have disappeared for any length of time

Next, we answer questions about displaying visuals during talks and additional outlets for storytelling. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Seattle workshop on August 17: https://bit.ly/2E1QU0S

Seattle solo show on August 17: https://bit.ly/2URekLY

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Spielberg didn't hire me. Big mistake.

When I was 14 years-old, I went to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at The Stadium in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark three years earlier and loving it, I couldn’t wait to see the latest installment in this franchise.

When I left the theater after seeing the movie, I went straight home and wrote a letter to Stephen Spielberg, explaining to him that I thought he was a brilliant director who told fantastic stories but needed someone to watch the finished film to show him all the dumb parts so he could take them out.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is filled with dumb parts.

To her credit, my English teacher at the time found the address of Paramount Pictures and sent the letter off for me, which was not an easy thing to do in a pre-internet 1983.

Spielberg, you’ll be surprised to hear, did not respond.

Honestly, I thought he would. In my 14 year-old mind, I felt certain that I had made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

More than 35 years have passed since that day, but I remain firm in my belief that filmmakers would do well to ask me to watch their movies and point out the dumb parts.

Recently, for example, I wrote about how in both Mary Poppins Returns and Wonder Woman, a white guy ends up saving the day when that job should’ve clearly been put in the hands of the female protagonist. These mistakes were so egregious that I can’t begin to imagine how those films ever made it to the screen without someone correcting the errors in these stories.

Last week Elysha and I watched Spielberg’s latest film Ready Player One. I had read and adored the book a few years ago, so I had low expectations going into the film.

It’s rare that a movie outpaces a book, though Spielberg has managed to accomplish this feat more than once with Jaws, Minority Report (a short story), and maybe Jurassic Park (I’m still not sure).

My low expectations were sadly realized.

Still, even though the film was never going to be better than the book, there were moments of real stupidity in that story that didn’t need to be there. Odd decisions by characters never paid off, shifts in tonality that tilted the film on its side, and at least one moment where an exceedingly obvious solution to an enormous problem was ignored by literally hundreds of people.

All would’ve been easily corrected had Spielberg asked me for advice. Had he answered my letter in 1983 and partnered with me then.

His loss, I guess.

Even so, things have worked out surprisingly well. Today I spend an enormous amount of time helping storytellers revise their stories.

I’m working with a documentarian, reading and revising scripts, looking for ways to improve her storytelling.

I’m working with an ad agency, helping to infuse more effective storytelling into national ad campaigns.

I’m working with small businesses, large corporations, universities, religious institutions, and hospitals to help them craft stories about their products, services, and missions.

I’m working with writers, reviewing their books, book proposals, magazine pieces, and television and film scripts and offering suggestions to improve their stories.

And I work with storytellers, listening to the stories they tell on stages and at the pulpit, in board rooms and in classrooms, at commencements and sales conferences, and everywhere in between.

Oddly, I’m doing the job that I first proposed to Spielberg 35 years ago.

It took me a little longer to get there, and perhaps I’m more skilled today than when I was 14 years-old, but it’s surprising - shocking, really - to realize that I have been on this same path for far longer than I would’ve ever imagined.

Ever since I was a kid, I was watching and listening to stories and trying to find ways to make them better.

It only took me 35 years to realize this.

No wonder Spielberg didn’t hire me back then.