Telling a Captivating Campfire Story

William Forgey, in his book Campfire Stories – Things That Go Bump In The Night, gives us the following tips for telling truly captivating campfire stories:

1. As the storyteller you must enjoy telling the story. 

Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself! The listener is not going to believe or become involved in your story if you are stiff and formal. If you look uncomfortable, you’re listeners will feel uncomfortable, too.

2. Memorize the story’s main points. Then improvise!

Don’t think you have to tell the same story in exactly the same way every time. Know the main points, but let the story and the audience determine the extra details. Be spontaneous and let the audience participate.

3. Maintain direct contact with your audience at all times.

Be in close physical contact, and maintain eye contact continually. Remember, you are telling this story as if you feel every detail intrinsically while you are speaking. You want your audience to feel it, too!

4. Use different inflections in your voice to add moments of fear or excitement to the story.

Scream, laugh, jump, feel every emotion with the characters. If you’re feeling it, your audience will feel it too.

5. Don’t freak out if you forget something mid-story.

It happens, half-way through the story you just might forget the main character’s dog’s name is Scruffy. If you forget, just use your imagination to fill in some description – such as “the mangy sidekick” or “the fat old dog”. Kids are pretty likely to yell out the dog’s name at some point anyway.

And finally… Pick a story you’ve loved for years and get started! 

You might take inspiration from a movie, book, campfire story you learned when you were young, or even a video game. Be sure to choose something you love and know well, and then adapt it to fit the setting and audience.

Happy storytelling!