Story Submission Guidelines
Story submissions are not final, and we do not expect them to be. Our team will work with the artist, that’s you!, to help create a story meant for telling on our stage. When you submit your story to our online form, our team will review your story and be in contact with you about telling your story on our stage. Some story submissions will need lengthening and some may need shortening, and we will work with you to get there. We want you to tell the best version of your story possible – you’ll have a crowd, after all!
First, you’ll meet one-on-one with us to talk about your story, see if it’s a fit, and – if it is – get some advice on telling it.
In the weeks leading up to the event, we’ll be available to meet with you again to work on your story, if you want.
About two weeks before the event, all the evening’s storytellers will meet to practice our stories with each other. This should be a fun time to receive encouragement and feedback, as well as tips for improvement.
Two days before the event, we’ll meet for another trial run.
A true story from your own life
Related to the theme
5-8 minutes (1 minute grace period; we’ll make you stop!)
Told, not read (you may have a single notecard)
Make sure it’s really a story:
Not an essay (musing and exploring ideas)
Not an editorial (arguing a point or perspective)
Not a lecture
Not a rant or extended complaint
Not a thought or theme with no structure
Not a stand-up routine
Not a sermon or testimony
What Makes for a Good Story?
Something is at stake. What might be gained or lost? Is it keeping a job? Keeping or ending a relationship? Maintaining integrity or self-respect? Avoiding embarrassment?
There is a beginning, middle, and end
Along the way, something changes for the teller: problem solved, perspective shifts, lesson learned, etc.
The story authentically reflects the teller and the moment it recalls. It may be funny, earnest, wry – or mix all those moods.
Some great stories violate the “rules” of storytelling. Hold them loosely.
Start immersed in the story
Don’t start with background/backstory: catch us up on the essentials after we’re hooked
Keep us asking: What happens next?
Not: “I’ve always been a pretty responsible person, you know, paid bills on time and stuff like that. The only time there’s been any issue was when I was in my 20s, and my landlord required us to hand-deliver checks to the office – which was fine, most of the time. But my job also required me to travel, so…
Better: “I found out I was being evicted when my landlord texted me a picture of my stuff on the curb.”
The teller focuses on a single story, rather than trying to cram too much into too little time
Don’t give every single detail. Well-told stories leave out lots of things that really happened in order to focus on the brightest, most telling, and most interesting moments.
Don’t meander. Practice and rehearse so you nail it.
Few stories “naturally” end well. Find a line, an image, a moment, a thought – something – that reflects back on the story with just the right perspective or tone.
Consider “circling back” to reference the beginning (with new perspective)
Use language that mocks, imitates, or otherwise demeans people of other races, religions, sexual orientations, genders, etc. For example, fake accents are usually demeaning, and they often lose the audience.
Don’t make another person’s identity the punchline; this is your story.
Celebrate unwanted sexual advances.
Give too much information. It’s a fine line, we know. We want some of the dirt. But detailed information about your sex life – well, let’s avoid that. Your most embarrassing moment? Probably fine. The thing that gives you a profound sense of regret and shame? Maybe not that.
Again, we do not expect story submissions to be perfect and ready to tell on our stage. We have a dedicated team that will work with the artist to create a final story that the artist will deliver to our wonderful audience.