■ Find a new children's story that you enjoy, maybe one from this book.
■ Practice it in your mind, rehearse it out loud, and put it into your own words.
■ Tell it to a child without recourse to the written version.
Once you have developed an outline, familiarized yourselfwith the material, and rehearsed it to yourself, then try it out on an audience. Tell it to your partner over a meal, test it on your child as a bedside story if appropriate, or share it with a friend over a cup of coffee. There is no need to produce any great, meaningful metaphor because right now we are simply looking at developing the skills of storytelling. If the tale is for a child or children then they will be your best audience. You may like to borrow a kid if you do not have one, or volunteer to do some story reading or storytelling at your local school, preschool, or children's hospital if your own workplace does not give you the opportunity.
Although it may be helpful to get some feedback from your listener, or even to provide some self-feedback, remember that what you are hearing is one person's opinion of how the story affects that person and may not be the way it affects another person. If providing some self-evaluation, you may ask whether you are satisfied with your storytelling, if there are aspects you could improve, how you could better use your voice, whether your voice was pacing the story, or what you could do to enhance the presentation. While such feedback may be useful, what is important at this point is simply storytelling with an audience. To use the learning-to-drive analogy with which I began this chapter, it is like you are familiar with the automobile's controls, have driven up and down the driveway, and are now ready to join other traffic on the roads.
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