How to Tell a Story

Tomorrow is the beginning of National Storytelling Week. This is a weeklong celebration of the art of storytelling and a way to encourage children to get interested in reading and stories. So in this week’s blog, we’re going to give you some tips to help you become a better storyteller in English.

Set the Scene

Above all else, the key to telling a good story is to engage your listeners. Make them feel involved, like they’re right in the middle of the action. This means your story has to start off strong. Phrases like “There was this one time when…” or “That reminds me of the time I…” attract listeners and make them interested in what you’re going to say. Also, it’s very dynamic to start a story with the Past Continuous (“So, I was sitting in the park yesterday, when…” or “We were waiting outside the cinema for our friends, and then suddenly…”). This gives readers the feeling that they’re right in the middle of the action and something interesting or exciting is going to happen.

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Give Background Information

It’s great to start in the middle of the action to get your listeners interested, but then you need to give them some background information to explain how you got into that situation. This will make your listeners more interested in the people in the story. The best way to do this is by using the Past Perfect. “I had called my friends earlier, so I thought they would be there.” This lets the listener know why you were waiting for your friends and gives them a little bit of extra information.

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Organise Your Story

After getting your listeners’ attention, you need to keep their attention. Telling a smooth, organised story will keep a listener engaged and make your story easier to understand. To do this, you must absolutely use linking words and phrases. If you tell a story without linking words, it won’t have a good rhythm. It will sound choppy and be difficult to listen to. Using linking words will make things flow smoothly. For example: “I thought about the decision for a long time. On the other hand, it was easy to choose.” This little phrase shows the connection between the two sentences in an easy and compact way.

These are just a few tips on how to tell a story in English, but use them wisely and you too can improve your storytelling skills. Since it’s National Storyteller Week, use this as an opportunity to practise these skills. 2022 can be the year when you become a master storyteller.




This is Ingla School of English‘s weekly blog, intended as reading practise for our students in Turnpike Lane, in London, and around the globe. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and take a look at the rest of our writing, much of which has activities for teachers to use in the classroom.

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