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Judging by Your Story…

Over the last two blog posts I’ve posted storytelling tips shared by our 2012 Summer Grand Slammers about what they think makes a good story or storyteller. Now, let’s turn our attention to this Saturday’s Grand Slam judges and find out how they will be measuring the tales and determining who will be crowned the next “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia.” Storytellers, take note…

The Honorable Liz Spikol:

1. A good lede. That’s what we call it in print, anyway. The beginning of the story should draw people in right away with something compelling and pungent.
2. Strong delivery. A sense that the storyteller is comfortable, confident, and that we’re in good hands.
3. A feeling that something is building, that we’re going somewhere. An arc.
4. A powerful ending. Maybe something that makes us pause before we clap. Or something so funny, that we erupt with applause. Something that we feel like we’ve been building to.

It’s like a chess game, if you play chess. Strong opening, but the opening can be kind of gimmicky and not necessarily obsessed with grace. The ending is triumphant or surprising or inevitable. But it’s the middle game where all the subtlety is, where the style is, where the language really takes off.

Needless to say, the bulk of the story should be, if a humor story, then peppered with details and juxtapositions that are unique, or, if a sad story, beautifully expressed.

Liz Spikol is an editor for Curbed Philly. Her writing has been honored by the Keystone Press Association, the Chess Journalism Association, the National Mental Health Association, the Mayor’s Commission on Access and Disability, the Philadelphia Psychiatric Association, the Society for Professional Journalists and others. She has appeared in Style Weekly, the New York Times, Painted Bride Quarterly, and has been featured on National Public Radio’s The Infinite Mind and Radio Times, as well as on the Discovery Channel. She was in the documentary Murder Hotel and hopes that won’t be her last imdb entry because her YouTube channel doesn’t count.

The Honorable Painted Bride Quarterly:

What we look for in a story is a beginning, middle, and end. We’d rather not be annoyed. We bore easily. Both on the page and the stage we like stories that resonate, that don’t leave us asking, “So what?”

About Painted Bride Quarterly: 1973 brought 2 major events: Watergate & the founding of Painted Bride Quarterly. We’ve been publishing poetry, prose, & fiction ever since. Thanks for making us look good, Dick.

Representing PBQ is Kathleen Volk Miller is co-editor of Painted Bride Quarterly, co-director of the Drexel Publishing Group, and an Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University, where she’s best known for organizing department Happy Hours. She is a weekly blogger for Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post, and has been published in Salon.com, and other venues. She is working on both a collection of essays and her own website, with no idea of which will come first.

Also representing PBQ is Dan Driscoll, Associate Teaching Professor of English, and Senior Editor at PBQ. He is best known for offering wry commentary from the bar at PBQ’s Slam, Bam, Thank You Mam events.

-Becca Jennings

Upcoming Events
  • BEyond Expectations – The Talk: Parents, Sons and the Police
  • Date: March 7, 2019
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Venue: SouthWest CDC
  • Location: 6328 Paschall Avenue
  • StorySlam: Promotions (tickets on sale 3/4/19)
  • Date: March 26, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: The Playground at the Adrienne
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street