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Characters

After asking your hook question and setting up your story, the next thing you should be doing is introducing the characters that are going to be involved in your story.

It’s important to paint vivid pictures of your characters in the mind or minds of those you’re talking to.  Your characters should be colorful, exaggerated, stereotypical examples of people so that listeners can more clearly understand the type of person that had the interaction in your story.  In other words, if you just say:

“This lady was there…”

That’s much different than saying:

“You know the type of sweet old lady who has a hunchback, walks all slow, wears dirty clothes that look like tablecloths draped over her, and always seems to have walker with tennis balls on the bottom of it?”

If you were to hear the second description and then the storyteller tells you that they started talking with that person, you can already imagine the types of things that the old lady might say.  This means that when that character says or does something different than what is expected by the listener, it makes for a fantastic and interesting story.

For instance, I might say that the old lady pinched my ass or I might say that she told me to fuck off.  I could also say that she lifted up her skirt and flashed me or that she spit on someone’s windshield who honked at her when she couldn’t get across the street fast enough.  All of these things are compelling in the story simply because you’ve created a perception of the old lady through stereotyping that is now broken completely because of the unexpected way that the woman acted.  This is why it’s important to describe the characters in your story in enough detail that the listener stereotypes that person.

Notice also here that I might be embellishing a little bit.  The old lady might not have had a walker with tennis balls on it and she might not have had a hunchback, and I DON’T CARE.  This is because:

The goal of a story is to entertain the listener while showing off your character!

The goal of the story is not to have the most accurate representation of events involved so that you can not lie or exaggerate ever.

Dude…

No one cares.

Personally, I would much rather have interesting, funny, compelling stories about crazy stereotypical people than have a perfectly accurate story.   So when you’re designing and telling your story you should feel free to embellish and exaggerate details.  All great storytellers do!

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