Just start the story. You can start with something tried and true: "Once upon a time," or, "When did it happen? Where did it happen? When and where didn't it happen?" You can even try the popular, "Why, when I was your age..." or, "I'm telling you the truth! No kidding, there I was ...."
The fact is, it doesn't really matter how you start. Except when it does -- little folks love it when there is a clue that we have left this world and have ventured into the world of story. That's what, "Once upon a time," does for us -- it takes us out of the mundane here-and-now and into the world where anything can happen, and often does.
But don't get hung up on that. Just start. Start somewhere. Fall into it, stumble, fumble, stammer, and let the story come tumbling from your lips. Whispered stories are good -- perfect for waiting in lines or sitting through long school performances by older siblings. Giggled stories, stories that make you weep, any of them.
You don't even have to know where the story will take you. Just start somewhere, with something.
Once there was a dog.
Once there was a very ugly house.
Once, when I was your age, I got such a great present.
Your Aunt Sue told me about the time when...
You know, I used to have just that problem, too...
Take a deep breath, and be brave. Making a new story is a little like stepping into the forest, knowing there is a path that leads to Grandmother's house, but this time, it's alright to leave the path, to talk to wolves, to open the basket and eat all the bread. This time, it's your story, and you can do as you wish with it.
If it's someone else's story, though, be kind. Don't put your muddy feet all over the couch, if you know what I mean -- be true to the story itself. There's a good reason why the doves come and peck at the sister's eyes. If a story makes you cringe too much, if you can't stand it, then don't tell it until you find a re
next time, knowing your audience -- who is the story for?
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.