Speak Up Storytelling: Matthew Dicks

On episode #53 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we read letters about Homework for Life from two of our listeners. 

Then Elysha departs for the rest of the episode, and I play a story of my own. 

Amongst the many things I talk about include:

  1. Big moments transformed into small, relatable moments

  2. The conversation between the beginning and ending of a story

  3. The openings of stories

  4. Omission

  5. The principle of "but and therefore"

  6. The strategic use of adjectives

  7. Ending a story effectively (and not stupidly)

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

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Resolution update: May 2019

Each month I review the progress of my yearly goals and report on that progress as a means of holding myself accountable.

Here are the results for May.
__________________________________

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Still standing.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I didn’t lose any pounds in May. I didn’t gain any pounds in May.

I’ve lost 8 pounds in total.

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, six days a week.

Done! Along with bananas, grapes, apples, and pears, I also ate carrots, onions, potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables in various soups.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.

5. Do burpees three days a week.

I did 3-4 burpees per day, 3 times each week in May.

Also burpees are still stupid and ridiculous. Not getting any better. This was a terrible idea.

WRITING CAREER

6. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2019.

Still waiting for a go-ahead from my editor regarding my next book. This is the problem with being two books ahead. No one is in a rush for your 2022 novel.

I’ve started writing anyway.

7. Write/complete at least five new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist. 

I have a fantastic new children’s book idea. I’ve started writing it.

8. Write a memoir.

Work continues. I’m worried it’s not very good.

9. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

10. Write a musical.

No progress.

11. Submit at least five Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times for consideration.

I submitted a piece to the NY Times Modern Love column in April.

One down. Four to go.

12. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

No progress.

13. Select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

No progress. Also, I need three behaviors to attempt.

Thoughts?

14. Increase my storytelling newsletter subscriber base to 3,000.

34 new subscribers in May for a total of 649 new subscribers in 2019. My list now stands at 2,759 subscribers.

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here:

15. Write at least six letters to my father.

None written in May. None written this year.

16. Write 100 letters in 2019.

Three letters written in May. Nine overall. I’ve fallen a bit behind.

17. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

A kind, generous, and amazing human being has begun work on this project.

I am thrilled.

STORYTELLING

18. Produce a total of 10 Speak Up storytelling events.

One show produced in May. We recorded Speak Up Storytelling before a live audience.

A total of 7 shows produced so far in 2019.

19. Begin selling Speak Up merchandise at our events and/or online.

Done! We began selling tee shirts and totes at our live podcast recording.

Next step is to make it available online.

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20. Pitch myself to at least 5 upcoming TEDx events with the hopes of being accepted by one.

Done! I’ve pitched myself to five TEDx conferences and was nominated for a sixth.

All have now passed on my pitches. No one wants me.

I guess I’ll just keep pitching.

21. Attend at least 15 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I attended two Moth StorySLAMs in May, bringing my total to nine events so far.

22. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

My name was not drawn from the hat at the New York City StorySLAM that I attended in May.

I finished in second place in a Moth StorySLAM in Boston. Once again by one-tenth of a point.

That is four second place finishes by a tenth of a point in a row .

Two wins so far in 2019.

23. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I finished in second place by a tenth of a point in a Moth GrandSLAM in January.

I finished in fourth place in my Moth GrandSLAM in March, but I think I might’ve told my best story ever.

I’ll be competing in another Moth GrandSLAM in NYC in July.

24. Produce at least 40 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Four new shows released in May. A total of 20 so far. We haven’t missed a week in 2019.

Listen to our latest here or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

25. Perform stand up at least four times in 2019. 

I’ve hit a bit of a snag in terms of this goal. The open mic night where I’d been performing was shut down thanks to stupid people behaving in stupid ways. I have an opportunity to perform in a local comedy showcase, which I will do, but I was in need of another open mic.

Thanks to you, dear readers, I have found a stage. I will take that stage when summer vacation begins.

26. Develop and teach a Storytelling Master Class, in which participants have an opportunity to tell at least two stories over the course of the day  or tell a story and then retell it based on feedback.

Done! Scheduled for June 1. Today!

27. Pitch at least three stories to This American Life.

No progress.

28. Pitch myself to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at least three times.

I wrote to Marc early in January, asking for him to consider me as a guest.

No response yet.

I’ve also officially requested that my publicist assist me in this endeavor.

If you know Marc Maron, or know someone who knows Marc or know someone who knows Marc’s producer or booker, please let me know. I know that Marc and I would have an amazing conversation, and it’s currently my biggest dream to get on his show.

NEW PROJECTS

29. Host a fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt, which would allow us to relieve the medical debt of struggling Americans for pennies on the dollar.

No progress.

30. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

No progress.

31. Print, hang, and/or display at least 25 prints, photos, or portraits in our home.

No progress.

32. Renovate our first floor bathroom.

Final design decisions have been made. Work will commence in July/August.

33. Organize our second floor bathroom.

No progress. Summertime project.

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2019.

I made no meals in May.

Four down. Eight to go.

35. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

No progress.

36. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2019.

I rode my bike with Charlie one time in May for a total of five rides so far.

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children, in 2019 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

Done! I did not comment on physical appearance with the exception of my wife and children in May and two other exceptions:

Crazy Hair Day: I considered this school spirit day akin to Halloween. When your student comes to school with an enormous afro woven with blinking Christmas lights, it’s okay to comment positively.

Macbeth: My students performed their annual Shakespearean play last week, and I put each of them in costume. During the costuming process, I commented positively on how they looked in order to ensure that they felt good about their costume.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2019.

Two surprises were set into motion in May, but neither has come to fruition yet.

Four surprises accomplished so far.

39. Replace the 12 ancient, energy-inefficient windows in our home with new windows that will keep the cold out and actually open in the warmer months.

No progress.

40. Clean the basement. 

Incremental progress. Every week I throw away or organize a few items.

I’m planning to order a dumpster this summer.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played four rounds of golf in May. I played poorly but showed flashes of promise. I actually drove the ball well for an entire round (which is to say I hit the ball straight but not terribly long).

I’ve decided to take lessons this summer on a regular basis.

42. Play poker at least six times in 2019.

A game was scheduled and canceled in May. That’s two cancelled games so far.

A new game is scheduled for June.

43. Spend at least six days with my best friend of more than 25 years.

Bengi and I spent a Sunday morning walking the track in his town back in March.

One down. Six to go. We have plans in June.

44. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.

Done.

Speak Up Storytelling: Live Episode (Part 2)

On episode #51 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling and celebrate our one year anniversary with the second half of our live episode!

In our followup segment, we celebrate the recent success of listeners. 
 
Next we listen to stories by Rachel Leventhal-Weiner and Beverly Brakeman. 

Amongst the many things we discuss include:

  1. Opening scenes that activate imagination

  2. Making a story more about yourself

  3. The power of brevity

  4. Approaching emotional topics from varying angles

  5. The advantages of keeping your story "in the moment"

In our Homework for Life segment, Matt talks about stealing a Homework for Life moment from Elysha, and he talks about how it might be turned into a story.  

We then answer listener questions about critiquing stories while remaining positive, naming characters in storytelling, trigger warnings, and more. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha: 

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Live Episode (Part One)

On episode #50 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling and celebrate our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN OUR FIRST LIVE EPISODE!

In our followup segment, we hear from our friends in Australia, who are attending the show virtually! We also hear from a listener who suggests a way of using Facebook to expand your Homework for Life and from another who makes an interesting comparison between listening to music and listening to stories. 

http://speakupstorytelling.libsyn.com/live-episode-part-1-0

ALSO, UPCOMING SHOWS:

June 8: “Nature Calls: Stories of the Outdoors” at Infinity Hall
August 10: Great Hartford Story Slam at Hartford Flavor Company
August 17: Solo storytelling show, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA

Next we listen to stories by Amanda Coletti and Jack Bourque. 

Amongst the many things we discuss include:

  1. Opening scenes that activate imagination

  2. Avoiding clumping 

  3. Strategies for humor in storytelling 

  4. The advantages of keeping your story "in the moment"

  5. Making your story about something bigger than the story itself

  6. The power of vulnerability

In our Homework for Life segment, Matt tells a brand new story crafted from a recent Homework for Life moment shared on the podcast. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

Storyworthy in academia

Exciting news!

My book, Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling, is being used by professors at least half a dozen colleges and universities around the country, as well as many middle and high schools.

Yesterday one of those professors posted a photo of the books on the college bookstore shelf.

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As a teacher, author, and storyteller, this was an exciting photo to see. I’m thrilled that my book will be used by students who are learning to write and tell stories.

But I’m not going to lie. Thinking that a future homework assignment might be generated from something I wrote is also a little distressing. I’ve already asked the editor of my upcoming middle grade novel, Cardboard Knight, to include a note on the cover that reads:

“Teachers are forbidden to ask any student to write a report about this book.”

A book report is an excellent way to make a kid hate a book. I know. It happened to me many times.

Also, if Storyworthy is going to be used as a textbook, shouldn’t it also cost $900?

I feel like I’m missing out on some serious profits.

Speak Up Storytelling: Ted Olds

On episode #49 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from a linguist who tries to get me out of hot water, and we learn about a new and unique way of recording Homework for Life.  

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how to dig deeper into story ideas to allow an otherwise surface level story say more.

Next we listen to Ted Old's high stakes story about a fourth grade multiplication contest.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The escalation of stakes 

  2. Brevity in storytelling 

  3. Choosing when and what to describe

  4. The advantages of keeping your story "in the moment"

  5. The disadvantages of adjectives

  6. Making your story about something bigger than the story itself

Next, we answer questions about our future employment options and Moth StorySLAM advice.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Kat Koppett

On episode #48 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from listeners who are using Homework for Life in new and interesting ways. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how identifying your weirdness and asking yourself, "Why do you do the things that you do?" can often lead to new storytelling ideas. 

Next we listen to Kat Koppett's story about a big decision involving a stripper pole, a broken popcorn popper, and an Obama impersonator.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The power of contrast in storytelling 

  2. The pros and cons of constantly dissecting stories

  3. The advantages of clearly defined stakes

  4. Being in the moment during the telling of a story

  5. The BAbC and CABC formats of storytelling 

  6. How changing the order of information being presented can really make or break a scene

Next, we answer questions about privacy issues in storytelling and what makes a great host. Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Dare To Be Human: https://www.daretobehumanpodcast.com

MOPCO Improv Theater: https://www.mopco.org

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Matthew Dicks

On episode #47 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we pass on some advice about computer screens from a listener and an unexpected benefit of Homework for Life from another. Then we solicit some suggestions and advice on publicizing my next novel, Twenty-one Truths About Love 

Then Elysha departs and we listen to my story about trying to rent a car to Boca Raton with an expired driver's license.

After listening, I discuss:

  1. A variety of strategies for shortening and elongating stories

  2. Effective places to begin stories

  3. Dealing with facts too good to be true

  4. Reasons to break my own rules

  5. Identifying and enhancing surprise  

LINKS

Purchase Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

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Speak Up Storytelling: Sarasweet Rabidoux Kelsey

On episode #44 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we introduce the "new" new cover of my next novel, discuss a bizarre coincidence, respond to a heartwarming email from a listener, and ask listeners for feedback on a reward for Homework for Life champions. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how a simple sentence or two - when the words touch your heart- can be enough to tell a great story. 

Next we listen to Sarasweet Rabidoux Kelsey's story about an unfortunate prom encounter. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Subtlety in storytelling

  2. The power of nostalgia

  3. Great opening lines

  4. The connective tissue of great storytelling

  5. When it's okay to reference pop culture and when it's not

  6. Saying just enough to serve the story

Next, we answer questions about shortening the length of stories and competing in storytelling competitions against "big stories. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Heloise and the Savoir Faire 

Matt Stone and Trey Parker on But and Therefore

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling: Matthew Dicks

On episode #43 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about a moment on a Moth GrandSLAM stage and a moment in a classroom that unearth two potential stories.

Then Elysha departs, and we listen to Matthew Dicks's story about an unusual late night walk with a friend. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The best place and most effective way of beginning a story

  2. The importance of beginning and ending a story well

  3. Choosing appropriate backstory and the most effective way of presenting it in a story

  4. Strategies for preserving surprise in a story

  5. Volume and pacing during a performance

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

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I lost The Moth GrandSLAM on Tuesday night. This is how I feel about losing.

On Tuesday night, I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM at the Cutler Majestic in Boston.

It was my 25th GrandSLAM championship since 2011, but no matter how many of these championships I compete in, the GrandSLAM never gets old for me.

It’s my favorite storytelling show by far.

I told what I thought might be the best story I’ve ever told at a Moth GrandSLAM or any story slam, but when the scores were tallied at the end of the show, I had finished in fourth place.

For a person who is exceedingly competitive and possibly obsessed with winning, I was surprisingly fine with my fourth place finish, for two reasons.

Two years ago, at a GrandSLAM championship in New York City, I drew the first spot in the show, which makes it almost impossible to win. As great a story as you may tell, recency bias will doom your chances every time. I’ve won from first position at two Moth StorySLAMs in my life, but the quality of stories in a Moth GrandSLAM make this highly unlikely if not impossible.

In fact, telling a story in the first half of a show makes it hard to win at a Moth GrandSLAM.

After drawing the #1 from the hat, I started pacing around the stage, angry and annoyed. Muttering under my breath. Snarling.

In short, I was acting like a jerk.

Thankfully, Elysha was with me that night in New York. She pulled me aside and said, “This is your 20th GrandSLAM. You’ve won six of them. For most of these people, it’s their first GrandSLAM ever. Probably the biggest stage they’ve ever performed on. Maybe their only GrandSLAM ever. So how about you stop acting like a jerk and just be grateful to be here.”

She was right. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Ever since that night, I’ve approach every one of these championship competitions with an open heart. Remarkably, I’ve stopped obsessing over winning.

I wish I could say the same for The Moth’s open-mic StorySLAMs. I’ve won 39 of them, so I shouldn’t obsess so much over winning them either, but winning a StorySLAM gains me entry into the GrandSLAM, which I love so much. So winning the StorySLAM remains important to me.

It gets me something I want.

But not the GrandSLAM. Instead of focusing on winning, I focus on having fun, telling a great story, and assisting my competitors whenever possible. If it’s their first or second time on a GrandSLAM stage, I always take a few minutes to advise them on the tricks and techniques that I’ve developed over the years to tell a story to a theater of 1,000 people. I try to ease their nerves, make them laugh, and allow them to relax enough to do their best.

Elysha was right. I should be grateful to be able to stand on that stage and tell a story, and I am.

Even better, the winner of Tuesday night’s Moth GrandSLAM was one of my storytelling students. She had spent a weekend with me at Kripalu in 2018, and the story she told on Tuesday night to beat me was a story that I had workshopped with her months ago.

In fact, I had three former storytelling students in the cast with me on Tuesday night. All three had gotten their start in storytelling in one of my workshops, and one them, Tom Ouimet, a brilliant storyteller has graced the Speak Up stage many, many times.

This also wasn’t the first time that a former student has beaten me in a StorySLAM and GrandSLAM. It’s happened several times, and I’m sure it’ll happen again. It’s also not the first time that I helped to craft and revise a story that was later used to defeat me.

As a teacher, this makes me very happy.

So I finished fourth on Tuesday night. I told a story about my lifetime struggle for faith and a moment of transcendence in a hot dog line at a minor league baseball stadium. I told the story from fourth position - not a great spot in the lineup - but I’ve won Moth GrandSLAMs from the second and fourth position in the past, so it’s certainly possible.

It really might be the best story I’ve ever told in a GrandSLAM.

But I didn’t win. That’s okay.

I saw some old friends. Made some new ones. Spoke to audience members who loved my story. I even signed six copies of my book Storyworthy during intermission, brought to the show by audience members who knew I was performing.

It was a great night. I was grateful to take the stage. I was thrilled to watch my students perform. I was honored to hear all of the amazing stories told that night.

Winning would’ve been nice, but it’s not the most important thing anymore. Not by a long shot.

Speak Up Storytelling: Ted Zablotsky

On episode #42 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we read a heartwarming email from a listener about Homework for Life and our new favorite review from a listener.

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how storyworthy moments can often be identified by finding moments in our lives that cause us to ask big questions and express controversial ideas. 

Next we listen to Ted Zablotsky's Voices of Hope story about returning to his father's hometown decades after the Holocaust.  

Voices of Hope is an organization dedicated to preserving the stories of the Holocaust, and we partner with this organization to help the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors tell their stories. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Telling stories about other people through the lens of your own story

  2. The effectiveness of telling your story in scenes

  3. The power of a subtle ending

  4. Remaining within the moment of a story at all times and not projecting forward

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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A man of many sexual exploits. Apparently. Maybe.

Happily, I have a thick skin. As an author of several books and a person who writes on the Internet in a variety of contexts, I receive a lot of less-than-glowing responses and reviews. These come in the form of online reviews, tweets, emails, and Facebook messages.

While a vast majority of my book reviews have admittedly been positive, some are not.

Some are downright scathing.

Many authors avoid reading reviews (or claim they do) as an act of self preservation. They refuse to look at their reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads because the negative feedback can really hurt.

I’m not a supporter of this policy for two reasons:

  1. As an author, I write books with the intent of selling them to readers. Ignoring reviews amounts to ignoring your customers, and for me, that makes no sense. If my customers have a consistent complaint about my work, I want to know about it.

  2. If a negative review or a scathing comment is going to somehow impact my sense of self-worth or my psyche, I’m in the wrong line of work. Not everyone is going to love what you make, and some of them are going to say it aloud.

An added bonus to reading your reviews is you occasionally get the negative review that causes you to laugh, like the one I read yesterday for Storyworthy.

The person wrote:

__________________________________________

It is a great book and effective map for great storytelling. But too many references glorifying the man's sexual exploits for me though it could be worse.

__________________________________________

I loved this bit of criticism. First of all, I had never considered myself a man of many sexual exploits, so I’m kind of thrilled that I might be more exciting than I once thought.

And what does “it could be worse” mean? Does this person have knowledge of my sexual exploits and knows that I held back? Is he or she implying that I could’ve shared a lot more? And if so, what?

I also have no idea what this person is talking about. Does Storyworthy really contain a multitude of references glorifying my sexual exploits? I honestly can’t recall a single one, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shared more sex stories than I had planned. Maybe I unintentionally overshared (which I’ve been known to do from time to time).

If you’ve read the book recently, could you let me know? I really want to know.

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Speak Up Storytelling #29: Matthew Dicks

On episode #39 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew Dicks talks storytelling!

With report cards and parent-teacher conferences filling Elysha's week, she takes some time off from the podcast, shifting our format again. I'm going it alone this week. Rather than posting a re-run, we have some exciting new content for you.  

Hope you enjoy! 

In our follow up segment, Elysha and I talk about the cover release of my new novel Twenty-one Truths About Love, which you can see in the show notes. 

Then, instead of listening and critiquing a new story, I play three of my stories (chosen for a specific reason) with some commentary about the crafting of each. 

After listening, I discuss:

  1. The variety of chronological formats available to storytellers

  2. When to choose a specific chronological format for a story

  3. The strategies used to preserve and enhance surprise in a story

LINKS

http://speakupstorytelling.libsyn.com/matthew-dicks-trio

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

Speak Up at Space Ballroom on March 16:
Exposed: Lies, Secrets, and Indiscretions Revealed

STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS 2019

May 4: Storytelling workshop (beginner), CT Historical Society
May 18: Storytelling workshop (advanced), CT Historical Society
June 1: Storytelling workshop (master class), CT Historical Society
July 29-August 2: Storytelling bootcamp, CT Historical Society
August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA 
October 25-27: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Heath
December 6-8: Storytelling workshop, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

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Speak Up Storytelling #37: Steve Brouse

On episode #37 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling along with storyteller and guest host Steve Brouse! 

In our followup segment, we talk about how a listener is using Homework for Life to remain in communication with his son, who is completing basic training. We also review listener feedback on the epic debate over the description of telepathy in Maire Greene's story. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about turning an unexpected snowball fight into a story that pushes back against conventional norms, and Steve Brouse shares his Homework for Life moment, combining two moments into a single idea for a story. 

Next we listen to Steve Brouse's story of a missed phone call and all that happened because of it. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The value of opening windows into worlds we might not otherwise ever see 

  2. Effective ways of teaching our audience about content needed to understand our stories (without bringing the story to a halt)

  3. When and how to use humor effectively in a story

  4. The way in which the crafting of a story can also be a discovery process for the storyteller 

  5. Managing emotions during the telling of a story

  6. Identifying and fully developing critical scenes in a story

Next, we answer a question about teaching storytelling to children. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

  • Crashing on HBO

Matt:

  • Commissioning portraits of meaningful places for loved ones (via Etsy)

Steve:

  • Puzzles comprised of family photos (via Shutterfly)

 

Storyworthy: The Illustrated compendium

Someone far more creative and clever than I will ever be read my book, Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling and created this amazing illustrated set of notes.

If you read the book, you’ll see how remarkably accurate these notes are. They truly capture the most important aspects of my instruction.

It’s really something.

Its also always an incredible honor to see someone engaging in something I have made in such a meaningful, personal, and creative way.

Makes me feel terrible for never building a diorama based upon a Kurt Vonnegut novel or never writing an epic poem about Ben Gunn’s life on Treasure Island.

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Speak Up Storytelling #35: Ophira Eisenberg

On episode #35 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from a teacher who is using Homework for Life in her classroom and a listener who had to do one of the strangest things I've ever heard of in a storytelling show.

We also get a little more information on Harry Belafonte. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how we're often in the middle of the story, and if we're patient enough, an ending will eventually reveal itself (as unfortunate as that ending might be). We also talk about choosing the structure of a story based upon the time frame of your story.

Next we listen to Ophira Eisenberg's story about a mysterious box in the closet.   

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Effective humor throughout the story

  2. Stakes!

  3. Echoing the thoughts of your listeners 

  4. Effective pacing in a story when the surprise is no longer surprising

  5. Specificity

Next, we answer a question about extending stories told on the stage to the written form.  

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Harry Belafonte on The Muppets

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up #34: Chion Wolf

On episode #34 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we hear from a listener who hosted an evening of stories at this home with great success. We also resume our debate about jokes within a story. 

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about the process of taking a single moment from the week and crafting out the skeleton of a story, including the importance of recognizing, protecting, and enhancing any surprises contained therein.   

Next we listen to Chion Wolf's story about the biggest job interview of her life.  

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Effective transitions of time and space

  2. Telling stories in vivid, easily imagined scenes

  3. The power of effective inner dialogue

  4. The preservation and enhancement of surprise

  5. Effective ways of speaking highly of yourself

Next, we answer a question about ending a story early and leaving the audience hanging on unspoken, final details of a story. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

This Is Going to Suck

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling #33: Bobbi Klau

On episode #33 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we thank our listeners, including American military personnel from around the world who have been reaching out to us this week, as well as those listeners kind enough to rate and review Speak Up Storytelling during this past week.

We went over 100 reviews and rating this week!

In our Homework for Life segment, we talk about how a simple but powerful statement from a stranger can be enough material for a story. 

Next we listen to Bobbi Klau's story about the search for the perfect gift. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Pacing, both as it related to authenticity and the ability of the audience to follow a story

  2. The power of humor at the top of a story, particularly when it demonstrates honesty, authenticity, and self-deprecation to your audience

  3. Telling stories in scenes

  4. Strategically humorous moments in stories vs. a joke placed within a story

  5. Kurt Vonnegut's philosophy on short stories

  6. The hazards of cultural references

  7. Avoiding the de-activating of your audience's imagination when you need to provide your audience with information

Next, we answer a question about the difference between stories that end in a moment of emotional resonance vs. a light-hearted observation or decision and a question about the role of EQ vs. logic in storytelling.

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Wire Tap with Jonathan Goldstein: https://bit.ly/2W5pZbz

"Deformed Cow and the Moonlight Deer": https://bit.ly/2Do8OKS

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

  • Workplace lunch clubs

Matt:

Speak Up Storytelling #31: David Ring

On episode #31 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about two emails received related to Homework for Life, including a sample of Homework for Life from the 1800's!

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We talk about the value of waiting to tell a story, the possibility that you are in the midst of a story, and the way that some stories can stretch across decades. 

Next we listen to David Ring's story about a trial, a possible death penalty, and a hit ordered on his life.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. A great first sentence

  2. The way that choices about description and leaning description in a certain direction can help tell the story

  3. The power of contrast in description

  4. "Nonfiction" in storytelling

  5. The appropriate absence of humor in storytelling

  6. The elimination of "I remember..." from stories

Next, we answer questions about using Homework for Life to recapture recorded memories and the differences between personal narrative storytelling and the telling of folktales, fables, fiction, or informational text. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Subscribe to the Speak Up newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/subscribe-speak-up

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt