Here are our guidelines on how to pitch a good story:
1. Have a story
If you have something that has stuck with you over the years, something that has haunted you or has caused you to change the way you see the world, that’s a good story.
Try and tell a story rather than an anecdote. Confused? So was I. Jeannie Yandel says:
For me, the difference between an anecdote and a story is – the teller has been changed in some way. It can be *totally* subtle, but the change is still there. An ideal pitch has two things – a path I can follow (I don’t care if it’s chronological or not – just make it easy for me to follow what’s happening!) and a transformation in the storyteller. The transformation kind of guarantees another important thing – that the teller herself is actually present in the story.
2. Craft the story
Each time you tell a story you welcome the audience into your world and lead them through it. As their guide it will help you to have a good map. So, here are a few questions to help you get started.
- When the story is over, what do you hope your visitors will take home with them?
Consider carefully your reason for telling this story. Think about the central idea that you want your audience to understand once you’ve finished.
- How will you welcome them in?
The first moments of your story are where you spark your audience’s interest. Help them be invested in you, the narrator, and want to follow you through your story.
- Where does the road turn?
Turning points are really what the story is all about. Something has to happen, and something has to change. Think about who you were at the beginning of your story and how you will be different at the end. Can you think of a moment that really shows how you rounded the bend and started your journey from one point to the other?
- How will you get them safely home again?
Endings can be hard to pull together, but a good ending will make your story. It’s worth the extra effort to make you ending concise and powerful. Run through it a few times to be sure you’ve tied up loose ends, resolved tension, showed your audience clearly what has changed, and carried your message well. When you’ve achieved a great ending, no one in your audience will be left hanging or confused. They will feel as though they’ve arrived back in their seats after a shared adventure with something to take home and maybe share again.
Want more pointers? Here are some links to other sites we recommend:
Paul Currington, from Seattle’s own Fresh Ground Stories on what makes a good story
Ira Glass on storytelling (1 of 4)
Some advice from the Moth
3. Send us a teaser
Ready to go? Great; send us your pitch! All we need is a short summary. Include why the story is important to you, how it fits the theme, how you changed, and some of the details.
Our producers look over the various pitches, and write back to the ones that we think would work best in the show to set up a workshop.
4. Be ready for the workshop
Most of our stories run in the 8-12 minute range. When you show up to workshop with one of our producers, please have something ready you can show us. We completely respect that the story is your experience and your craft, and are very grateful that you’re willing to share it with us. We will likely share our thoughts and responses to it, and brainstorm with you if there’s any way we can help it better realize your aspirations.
5. Get set for the stage!
We then take the five or six stories we think would work best together and put them in the show. (For example, in a single show we probably only need one story on trying to become a competitive eater.) There is a rehearsal with all the producers not long before the show in order to put a final polish on it, and then the event itself.
That’s all there is to it! Thanks for pitching, and hope to see you on stage soon!