Chaos Attraction

Life Does Not Always Punctuate Well

2019-07-09, 1:09 p.m.

Tonight was the first storytelling class of three in Sacramento--it turns out that Lisa the instructor also teaches there. Much to my relief, I was actually able to find the parking lot and the class since usually I get lost as fuck at Sac State. There were about fifteen people in class and almost all of them were women except for one lady’s husband, so so much for meeting anyone at that event :p Lisa had us all describe our scariest memory and a lot of them involved cars, ahem, as a showing not telling sort of thing. She talked about why people tell stories and how they convince people better than facts and are better remembered.

She had us listen to two stories, one from The Moth about coming out to a grandma and another about a prankster grandma that they’d done in their own show. We talked about the elements in the stories that stood out, buttons at the start and finish, details.

4 elements of storytelling:
(a) characters
(b) obstacle/conflict/problem/tension
(c) climax, things come to a head, most tension, turning point
(d) resolution

Stick to 1-3 characters in a short story.
Resolution: moral, who changed, wrapped up in a bow.
A really good story is where someone changes.
You don’t want to be the hero of your own story, should be about how someone else made you change. Have flaws, don’t be perfect. People like you more when you are super vulnerable. We don’t want to hear that you’re great, we want to relate.

I am disappointed that their next show....well, as far as I’ve heard from their shows before, the people in them were in this class and then they have a class performance a la the Comedy Spot. Apparently not this time, because they’ve already set a theme-- “Process Vs. Product,” and already booked 5 out of 8 slots. And the show is on a night when I will be volunteering again. Since it’s mostly booked and on a night I’m not free on, maybe I just won’t go....also I don’t think I have any thoughts on that topic that work into a story. Like it would work for crafting but I don’t have much that works for that that would be interesting. I tried to write up a post for Yarn Club about designing but never got that far about it. Someone will be coming to class next week to talk about it, but who knows.

Here’s the list she gave us to come up with stories from our lives:
1. What was the most afraid you’ve ever been?
2. Is there a regret you have?
3. When did someone/something surprise you?
4. What’s the biggest lesson you have learned in life?
5. Was there a time when you were most heartbroken in life?
6. Hardest decision you ever made
7. Most embarrassing moment
8. Someone came through for you that you did not expect
9. A moment when you caught?
10. A moment when you were misunderstood.

She gave us a few minutes to construct a story and see if we could come up with any from this list.

The one I came up with I have to call “Fifty Shades of Stealing:”

Mom’s a hoarder and I do periodically liberate things from her house that she will not notice will be gone, either to throw out papers she will never read or use, or stuff to use myself because I know she’ll never use it and I will. She has so much random stuff in the house that even she doesn’t seem to know why she has things. One day I found a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in the house and was all, wtf. Mom would absolutely HATE this. I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard enough excerpts of it to know that (a) it’s bad and (b) that Mom would lose her shit about it. The woman got traumatized by going to Hot Topic once, is what I’m saying. Kinky sex stuff? Forget it. How she got this book, I don’t know, she could have gotten it off a free table or something, I didn’t think about that bit too hard.

Anyway, I see this book and I imagine how she’s gonna react if she tries to read it and what I’m going to have to hear about it about how traumatized she is, so I decide to liberate it from her house, not that she’d notice, and relocate it to a little free library in my town.

Several months later Mom and I get into a fight--I don’t remember the exact details of it at the time but it was most likely another fight about her hoarding--and I end up blurting out in the middle of the argument that I took this book and got rid of it and she never even noticed.

What she said was, “That’s Tracy’s book! She wants it back!”

Tracy was a somewhat divey coworker of hers at the time. I don’t know how this came about, but.... OY.

What I can’t believe in this is how I tattled on myself. Seriously, she never would have known had I kept my mouth shut. I outed myself as a villain who steals her stuff and a total asshole. Which I am.

Anyway, I was now forced to actually buy a copy of this damn book for freaking Tracy. Thankfully, everyone else has read this damn book by now and it turns up very frequently in used bookstores. I gave it to Mom and never heard about it again, but I can only assume she still never read it.

As you notice, the end of this definitely fizzles because there is no good ending to this! Awkward, but that is what I came up with after two minutes. Sometimes life does not punctuate well.

So after we come up with the story, we were to tell it to two others and get critiqued and vice versa. The critiques I got were that it was good up until the end, which I also agree with. Not sure how to fix it though.

The other ladies did the following:

(a) One lady had a much cuter younger sister and mom never said much about her looks, and when she asked if there was anything good about her, mom said that she had a flat nose and that meant she was smart. The lady knew better, of course, especially since Mom had said she could get plastic surgery for it! But eventually she grew up and got over it. Though the flat nose is still irritating when you wear glasses (I asked).

(b) One lady was a total alienated nerd in school and felt that way all her life, but slowly realized that she interacted with more people as she got older. She is now so popular at high school reunions that when she declined to go to one saying she could not afford it, the class had a fundraiser to make sure she could go. WOW.

Lisa’s tips for storytelling were that she keeps a list. If you can remember it, there’s a story there. She likes to talk it out while walking (faking being on a cell call). You should do it 2-3 times and start with the climax and reverse engineering it from there, come up with a resolution later.

Homework is to come up with a 5 minute story to workshop and that is what we will do the other 2 weeks.

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