Director of Nursing Program, DeVry University

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Engage people in sharing stories through StoryASKING, where the asker poses questions or ideas and asks others to share their story .

I am planning to design a deck or a notepad with StoryASKING topics for people to use to generate their personal stories, either written or oral about a specific topic of interest. I would love to hear ideas that anyone has for what to ASK about and respond to this idea.

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    Aug 26 2012: Diann, the first idea that came to me in response to your question was Creativity Portal's Imagination Prompt Generator. If you search for this, you will arrive at a page that poses a question. You can ask for as many new questions as you like in sequence. A question might ask about a memory of yours or your reaction to an idea.

    On another part of that site, there are photo prompts, which might give you an idea of visual cues you could use for your card deck.

    The second thing that came to my mind was a card deck I used to use in class called something like the Ungame. I have misplaced it, but again, these are prompts that could launch reflection, discussion, or storytelling. There was one deck with less challenging questions and one with more challenging questions (challenging in the sense of digging more deeply into feelings and beliefs).
    • Aug 27 2012: Thanks so much Fritzie, I am going to check our the Creativity Portal. I appreciate your feedback and help. Is the picture in your post someone you really know? What a beauty! Diann
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        Aug 27 2012: I hope you find the prompt engine there useful for your project.

        In reference to the picture, it is painted (not by me!) from a photograph of my now three year old English Bulldog.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 26 2012: I have been a professional memoirist. I love your idea.I probably have enough questions to fill several notepads.

    I like to start with the oldest ancestor my client remembers. Perhaps it is great grandparents or a great grandmother. What did she look like? What do you remember about her? Did you ever stay at her house? What did it look like. Describe the kitchen. (those old-fashioned kitchens make such wonderful stories, as do stories about the out house and life without toilet paper and one-room schools.)

    Progress to grandparents with the same types of questions.

    Introduce your parents (how did they meet? Are there any special stories you have heard about their wedding?

    What is your very first memory?

    Walk it through a little at a time. Ask them to describe their childhood neighborhoods and compare it with today's neighborhoods (where children do not play in the streets). What games did they like to play? What did you do before computers, video games, mobile phones, DVDs, things like that.

    As you get to the middle years, bring up religion, school memories, clothing, dance, etc.

    I think you get the picture.

    If you want to read a couple of my sample memoirs, let me know and I'll send you a link. They might inspire you. Let me know if I can help.

    I also suggest that the writing part of the page begins with Dear _(fill in name)__. If a person is writing a letter to a grandchild, that love will flow through the writing, intimidation goes away, and the writer will use simple words to tell the story. Writing at a 5th grade level is really ideal for what you are describing.
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      Aug 27 2012: Hey T L

      That sounds really interesting,would you post your links here?
    • Aug 27 2012: Thanks so much for your suggestions and thoughtful feedback. I really enjoy all things related to memoir so please send me the links. I would greatly appreciate it. Diann
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        Gail .

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        Aug 27 2012: Well I would, but you appear to have turned off my ability to message you.
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    Aug 26 2012: Stories answer a specific type of question. So for instance, when the waiter asks you what you would like from the menu, it would be very annoying if you replied with a story. So the best types of questions that stories answer are abstract and look for experiences and meanings. So topics like love, dying, life, children (not how many but experiences), desire, passion, etc. work well with stories.

    These questions are best asked "Tell me about a time when you..." or "Tell me anything you would like about when you experienced ..."

    People also structure their stories differently. Some are chronological and some are event focused and some are meaning focused. Why are you doing this? If I may ask.
    • Aug 27 2012: Your post is very helpful and I like the opening of "Tell me about a time....." You asked my purpose in this. I have several. I am a writer and a storyteller. I am looking for ways to support these crafts and engage teens and younger people so that oral history, memoir and personal stories will thrive. I also enjoy creative projects and came up with this idea. Thanks DIann
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        Aug 27 2012: That is great. I love storytelling and it is a tradition with my people. Some stories take three days but I am sure you keep them a little shorter:)

        Stories teach about how to walk in the world. I hope you keep that central to your work.

        My research centers on stories so I am glad you are keeping the practice of stories for the next generations to come.