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Begin with a prop

A prop can be a highly effective to introduce a story, especially if it has some intrinsic cultural significance, or if you have a personal connection to it (how you got it, won it, found it …)

Before I start the story of the willow pattern, I display a plate I bought on ebay (about S$12)and contextualise what  ‘China’ meant to eighteenth century England (far-off, exotic land of strange customs)

For obvious reasons, I don’t pass the plate around the audience (crash!) but if your prop is strong enough to be handled, people love to get hands-on!

Tuesday February 15th, 1942 began like any other.  

It was the day before Chinese New Year and here in Singapore …  

The Giant was of medium height for a giant – about 9’ 9’ tall, though when he wore his striding boots, their thick soles – necessary to support his great weight – added another six inches.

Ways To Begin (besides Once Upon A Time)




Do you ever wonder why bats only come out at night?

Have you ever been so lost you never thought you’d fnd your way home?

A question invites your audience to respond. It can arouse their curiosity or prompt them to empathise with the character’s predicament.

A long time ago, long ago,

so long ago that no one can remember,

and no tree can remember,

and no rock can remember;

so long ago that there were no people,

and there were no trees,

and the rocks had not been made. . .



Date /Time

like a Newspaper

Imagine you are on the edge of a great, great forest.  

In front of you there is a road.  You ride forward – for you are on horseback – riding briskly, purposefully, for a long time, until the road forks on either side of a towering mahogany tree.  

In the Caribbean, the teller cries ‘CRICK’! And the audience responds, “CRACK”

In Japan, folktales always began, Mukashi, mukashi, meaning Long ago, in a certain place …

In Bhutan, the teller cries Dangbo! and the audience responds Dingbo! (Say it several times, playing around with the way you say it - get the audience listening, laughing and joining in!)

Not quite right? Want to try another opening?

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back
or from which
to look ahead.
Graham Greene,
The End of the Affair