What are those characters saying?

A storyteller has to carry all the characters inside her self. She uses words, expression and imagination to make them real and come alive in a story.

What story characters say and then do, carries the plot along to a resolution. Not only that, but all the different ways they might speak make an impact on the meaning made.


Statue of La Fontaine with the fox and the crow

Some stories have only two main characters like La Fontaine’s fable “The Fox and the Crow.”  The fox outwits the gullible crow through flattery. Fox will say anything to get that cheese. The crow feels stupid.

In some versions the fox is male and the crow is female. Here’s a version featuring Master Reynard and Mistress Crow http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/FoxCrow.shtml

Might crows be either gender, or maybe both? Flattery is a common human foible to help a person get what they want


It’s what characters say and how they say it that is so loaded. ” How well you look today, my dear. Your beautiful feathers are so glossy. How finely chiselled is the nose on your noble head. If only we could cut the ties that bind and fly away together!” Hmm.

What characters look like and how they dress can give more clues as to what they might say. (Be wary with stereotypes.)


The two of them may have known each other for long time and saying nothing says a lot.


or like the Crow and the Fox, they have just met.


They may both want the same thing and agree to share.


But stories rely on conflict being resolved: finding solutions to problems.

Are they earnestly competing with each other? Is there money at stake? Might one be a poor loser?

This argument stopped me in my tracks. I heard their angry voices first.


As soon as I put the camera down, he took her arm, and kissed her and she kissed him back.

That’s one problem solved.

But wait, there’s more! Story characters keep on coming. Thank goodness.


PS. Listen to this recording of actor Jonathan Pryce reading ‘The Fox and Crow’ aloud. He’s reading rather fast, for my liking, but he is using his voice like a storyteller. Listen to how his voice makes the characters come to life. He uses all the variations his voice can offer to sound ‘fox-like’ – pitch, tone, volume and timing.

Longer pauses and visualising the story, as you tell, helps listeners see the character and believe they are real, as well as keeping up with the action.


PPS. Doesn’t the birdsong, in the audio background, take you into the woods.

All text and photos by Meg

 Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

First Words

A good friend of mine is a Great Aunt in both senses of the word. She loves spending time with her great nieces and nephew. It seems that the youngest niece was slow to talk. She was very good at sound effects and pointing.  Her older sister, helpfully filled in any gaps in communication.

One day mum was driving the three kids all packed into the back of the family car. Traffic was slow, the radio was on and suddenly up piped a new voice declaring “I love this song!” The youngest had spoken her first words and hasn’t stopped since.

Do you know what you’re first words were?  I’ve asked a few friends and had stories about a toddler dragging a book to every visitor who happening to be sitting down and demanding “Read this!” Whereas her sister, had always liked to repeat , “Is the cat out?” as they went off on a trip to town.

Sometimes its just one word for a favourite thing like “Da,” or “App-le.” I babysat one little girl who loved olives and called them “Lolives” as she pointed for more.

If you don’t know what you first words were, what would you liked them to have been?

My brother-in-law takes great delight in ribbing me. Seemingly whenever we’re driving through beautiful Scotland, I keep exclaiming “Look at the trees!” Boy, does he make fun of me. So I’d like those four words to have been my first.


Last time I said “Look at the trees!” was on our recent walk in Edmonds, USA.

I can’t help myself, truly.

All text and photo by Meg

Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License