Mining for Stories

“I don’t have any interesting stories, nothing has happened to me.”

This is often the initial response people have when faced with the task of storytelling. Here’s a secret: everyone has stories. Human beings inherently have stories about their lives. The problem is sifting through the thousands of memories to find a story we value, and hope others value. Here is a list developed by Christina Baldwin in her book Storycatcher that will help in your search.

  1. Describe one of your earliest memories. Who is with you? Is this an actual memory you have, or was it told to you?

  2. Think of your grandparents. What is your relationship with any one of them? How involved were they in raising you? Affecting you? Influencing you?

  3. Where do you come from? What is the landscape? Who are the people? Is there a person, or memory you have that captures the place?

  4. Choose a family heirloom or artifact that has a history. What does it mean to your family? What is its history? Why is it valued by your family? Who has it now?

  5. Have you ever had to keep a secret? Did you succeed? What were the circumstances of the secret? What was the outcome?

  6. What do you know about the origins of your family? What was life like for older family members when they were your age?

  7. Life is full of mysteries. Pick a mystery that you are curious about can you imagine a story that explains that mystery?

  8. Is there a family story that you are responsible for passing on?

  9. What was a typical family dinner like when you were growing up? Were they fond or painful memories?

  10. Describe a world event that changed. What were you doing when it happened? How did you view the world differently?

  11. If you had to make a time capsule of yourself, what would you include? How do you want to be remembered?

  12. Describe a time when you felt fear. How did you handle your fear? How did it change you?

  13. Where do you go when you are afraid? Did you have a special place you went to when you were scared? Angry? Lonely?

  14. Write a dialogue between yourself and someone you love who took a different path. How do you feel about the path the person took? Have your feelings changed since then?

  15. Describe a lesson you learned the hard way. How did this lesson affect you?

  16. Describe a sacrifice you made. How did it change you? Was it worth it? Would you make the same sacrifice again if you had the chance to do it again?

  17. Where were you at age___? How are you different now?

  18. Do you know your birth story? Who told you? Do you have artifacts from around the time you were born?

  19. Do you have memories about pivotal choices you have made in your life?

  20. Describe an accomplishment that gave you great pride.

  21. What are some of the things about your family that you want to celebrate?

  22. Think of a decision that one of your family members made that you are grateful for. Why are you grateful?

  23. In what ways are you most blessed? Who deserves the thanks for those blessings?

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