Storytelling is storytelling. We all crave it.

by Stephen Buehler

Stephen Buehler - Bouchercon

Story telling is storytelling and everyone loves a good story. It helps make life interesting. When you hear the word ‘story’ most people think of books or short stories- but all forms of entertainment should tell a story – from music to art to magic shows. That’s right, even a magic show.

Tonight (Sunday) I’m performing a magic show – which I haven’t done in years. Recently my interest in magic has resurfaced. I was invited to be part of a show to raise money for a playhouse.

I could have been one of those magicians that just do one trick after another and I would have done a good job with that. I know many tricks. But instead, to keep the audience interested I decided to tell a story within the show. It’s not a complicated story but I’m hoping it adds to the interest level of my performance.

Like any good story – first I created a character, Stefan the Great One! That’s my magician name from when I was a kid.

Magic Show - Prof Nightmare

Like in a novel, I gave him a backstory – he comes from a long line of magicians – his father is Stefan the Mediocre and his grandfather is Stefan the So So. Stefan is full of himself – he’s okay as a magician but not as good as he likes to boast. He’s constantly referring to himself in the third person and when he mentions his name he delivers it with theatrical flair. He longs to be a magician like in the old days but those days have passed him by. He’s a bit of a braggart but he’s likeable because he makes you laugh.

The story of the show is – he promises that he’s going to present the GREATEST TRICK EVER. After performing each trick, he introduces the next trick as THE GREATEST TRICK EVER and if they didn’t like that one, he does another one. It builds the audience’s anticipation – they’re waiting for that big trick. It’s like getting readers to keep turning the pages. His tricks are good, he’s entertaining but he never does the greatest trick ever. Towards the end of his act he gives up his quest. He announces that the management wants a survey of his performance and instead of having the audience fill out questionnaires he’ll do it from the stage. He’s even written down what he hopes the audience thinks of him and has sealed the predictions in an envelope which are given to a spectator to hold. He has three truly random volunteers from the audience answer the survey questions. When Stefan the Great One’s! envelope is opened, his predictions match exactly the volunteers’ answers. It looks impossible. The survey has become the greatest trick ever. A good twist ending.

triumphant

Stefan’s performance is like any good story. It has a hero. The hero has a quest and a goal. He meets obstacles along the way. It looks like he fails but with one last desperate try he is triumphant.

Story telling is story telling. We all crave it whether we know it or not. It deepens the experience.

Have you ever used storytelling in other works of art or your in life besides writing short stories or novels?

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Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and was a Derringer Finalist. A Job’s a Job was published in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology. His is seeking a home for his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician, psychics and of course, murder. He is also currently shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is also a script/story consultant, magician and a nice guy.  www.stephenbuehler.com

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19 Responses to Storytelling is storytelling. We all crave it.

  1. Pingback: Storytelling is storytelling. We all crave it. | Writing Wranglers and Warriors

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nicely done. Have a fun show tonight. I think we all are storytellers. Even in conversations we tell stories. We just don’t always call it that. Doris

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  3. Clever post, Stephen! I really want to be there tonight but now I feel like I got a taste of it. Although now it makes me even more upset I’m missing it! I love how you incorporate Stefan the Great One! into a classic story arc. Aside from writing, I told stories through piano and ballet throughout my childhood and teen years (although they weren’t mine so much as Beethoven’s or Tchaikovsky’s). However, how I played the piece or danced the solo contributed to the story. It’s up to the pianist or the ballerina to do the story justice while lending their own interpretation. I know Stefan the Great One! will knock ’em dead tonight!

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    • Sarah,
      I don’t know if I knocked them dead, but I think they left the theater wounded. I get it when you mentioned how you interpret some of the already established pieces of music. Two of the tricks I’m doing aren’t mine, I didn’t create them but the way they’re presented is all mine – I’ve changed it to fit the character of Stefan the Great One!
      – Stephen

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  4. S J Brown says:

    Sounds like it will be fun evening. Sorry I won’t be there. Enjoy.

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  5. Neva Bodin says:

    Interesting post. I think we are all story tellers–even those who say they can’t tell a story. When people visit, everyone wants to tell a story that holds the listener’s interest. Anecdotes from life, past experiences, they all must have a beginning and an end to keep the listener’s attention. I love stories, sermons, or other anecdotes stick with me because a story is part of it.

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  6. Mike Staton says:

    Too bad LA and Vegas is so far apart. I would have liked to have seen “your story” as part of your magical act. Now that I’m getting older I have a tendency to tell lots of stories about times of my childhood. I’m sure a few start yawning when I say, “That reminds me of the time I rode my bike to the Corona supermarket.”

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  7. Joe Stephens says:

    Teaching is definitely storytelling, even with high schoolers. Creating narrative creates connections.

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  8. Doris says:

    Interesting, my comment from yesterday didn’t post. I do hope you have fun and your audience enjoyed the ‘story’. Fun. Doris

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  9. Wranglers says:

    I did some story-telling when I was a child, does that count? Lol It usually got me in more trouble than it got me out of. This season on America’s got talent, there are a lot of magicians, even a mentalist. He’s very good. My husband did Christian Magic for awhile to entertain the church children (and adults). If someone taped some of your act, you could maybe include it in your next blog, and let us all know how things went. Cher’ley

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    • Cher’ley
      – Thank you for the idea about my next blog. I will have to think about that. I like watching AGT for the magicans and all the variety acts. I would have loved to live in the time of Vaudeville.
      – Stephen

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  10. Nancy Jardine says:

    Like, Joe, I’m thinking I did that a lot during my teaching days as well but not quite in the ‘magical’ setting as you’ve done. I have to confess that some of those instances were a bit contrived- designed to reinforce some circumstance that probably needed improvement. You’ve just reminded me that I had a motto on my classroom wall that ran like this…
    “Good, Better, Best,
    Never let it rest,
    Till your best is better
    and your better is best.”

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  11. wyoauthor1 says:

    Fun post, Stephen! Great connections about story in various art forms; I totally agree. Thanks for sharing this aspect of yourself — I so enjoy learning more about my Writing Wrangler friends!

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  12. sstamm625 says:

    I especially like the names–Stefan the So So. Ha!

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