Telling a Story

Holy Cow! You will never believe what happened. I am putting the audience on notice that I am about to tell a story and I want their attention. Not only will I tell a story I am rather proud of this particular story as I am building it up with plenty of hyperbole.

Now that I have the attention of everyone I cut right into the background and lay the foundation for the story I am telling. Just the other day. That is enough I have told you this going to be a recent story and not one from way back when. I have set the time and now I usually set the place. We were all parked at the beach. I do not usually elaborate in any real detail about what particular beach or who exactly we are but I will give a few more characters as I find it necessary to tell the story.

I have grabbed the audience attention and provided the setting for the story now I just need to tie it to something the audience can identify with. The girls were all gathered around one car and the guys were around another. I have let the audience know it is a story about guys and girls. Leaving it intentionally vague the audience is free to remember the time from their past where the guys and girls were all gathered in separate groups. The time reminds me of a junior high dance where everyone was afraid to ask somebody to dance. Did we really even want to dance?

In order for my story to come across as believable I will start to sprinkle in facts that are in common knowledge among my audience. We had been watching the super bowl and the Saints had just won the game. We had all decided to go out and celebrate the victory. Because everyone knows the Saints won the super bowl the audience is starting to buy into the story.

As the night wore on and the weather cooled off we built a huge fire on the beach. The type of bon fire we used to build back home on Fourth of July to watch the fireworks. Once again giving the audience something to remember and anchor the story to that is believable. Our fire was not only the biggest fire on the beach but the only one within a mile of where we were. Bright orange flames danced fifty or sixty feet into the night sky. The fire was so hot as to keep everyone back at least a hundred feet from the fire. The young men were quick to throw more pallets onto the fire and the shower of sparks lit up the sky with every pallet that was tossed into the flame.

In a few short hours our small gathering of people had grown from a dozen to more than a hundred people. At times like these we are all friends and everyone is drawn together by the common celebration. I am leading the audience from simple and easily believed to the unbelievable part of the story and I will allow them to remember a time where a party just grew without anyone really remembering how it happened. I am the story teller and the audience is making the story work. They are filling in the gaps I have intentionally left to make the story work seamlessly in their brain.

The key to telling a great story is to have enough build up and background to engage the audience and yet get through the wild exaggerations and outright lies quick enough for the audience not to apply the brakes and question the story. As soon as you see that you have audience eating out of your hand you should cut to the chase even if it involves leaving out material.

I walked around the perimeter of the fire and saw many new faces. I spoke to most of them and introduced myself. I was working my way through the crowd when I walked face to face with a stocky black man that I had never seen before. Build a little drama in your story and leave the audience on edge wondering what is going to happen. In a movie they would cue the scary music at this point. I stopped dead in my tracks to avoid running square into the man.

We were locked into a stare and I was very uncomfortable. I said, “Hi, I am Victor”. I shot out my right hand offering to shake hands. He offered a quick fist bump instead of a handshake. For the first time I noticed he had a beautiful woman with him. A Bud Light in his left hand seemed to reflect the orange of the flames.

Just as quickly as I had run into them and introduced myself both Reggie and Kim were gone. They continued their walk on down the beach alone. Before they had left the light of our fire I asked my good friend Eric if he had noticed them walking past our fire. He said he thought for sure that is who it was.

A few of the younger guys wanted to run down the beach chasing after them. I told them to leave them alone and give them a moment to be alone. You can ask for an autograph if they come back.

I leave the story with a personal thought and a reflection. I will always remember that night.

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