It's Time to Talk

With so much bad news and alarming statistics at the moment, we think it’s time to start telling stories.

With our loved ones locked down and the elderly self-isolating for a minimum of three months, let’s use this opportunity to talk. And not just about the latest Johnson briefing.

As the nightly phone calls to loved ones get tougher, we’ve created a little conversation-motivation…

Use your evening call a bit more productively. Let’s…

  • Create a happy hour within the madness.
  • Do something that our usual life doesn’t normally allow us to do.
  • Get to know our loved ones a bit better…

 

More

How Does It Work

Well, you decide really but here’s what we suggest…

  1. Download our three Talking Tales questionnaires. They’re free (and always will be) because we think families could do with them right now.
  2. Each one has a theme with questions to inspire great conversation.
  3. They’re designed to help you find out more about your loved one (the naughty stuff as well as the profound) and leave you thankful you bothered to ask. And what do they get out of it? Simply, the chance to reminisce and have a laugh at a time when that’s difficult to do.
  4. As you use the questionnaire, make sure you take notes as you go so you can create a lasting memory.
  5. Either keep the questionnaires as a record of your conversations or take it one step further and use the material you’ve gathered to write a story – maybe a mini-biography of your loved one or perhaps a bit of poetry inspired by an anecdote? Anything that deserves to go down a generation or two!
  6. Not a natural ‘writer’? Use our expert story writing tips below to inspire you. We’ll let you in on a secret, it’s not rocket science.

And you might just find yourself enjoying it. It certainly beats watching the news.

DOWNLOAD NOW!

Rest assured, there’s no hidden fee. We want as many people as possible to benefit from Talking Tales.

You can download the questionnaires on your laptop or phone, but best to use the laptop when you’re filling them in!

Please share this page with other folk so more people who live alone can benefit from a different type of conversation tonight.

Download from the links below

Talking Tales Part 1 – Early Years

Talking Tales Part 2 – Work, Life, You

Talking Tales Part 3 – Love & Family

TURN YOUR 'TALKING TALES' INTO A STORY?

The questionnaires should keep you and your family member amused for a few weeks, but once you’ve filled them in, how about you make the most of them?

The Speechy team write stories for a living so we know writing is a great way to forget the reality of the world at the moment. It’s one of these all-encompassing activities that forces you not to think about anything other than the words in front of you.

And really, what do you have better to do than write up your loved one’s story?

When we work with clients, we ask them to fill in a questionnaire and talk to them over the phone at length. You’ve done both. You’ve gathered your material and you also know your family member’s ‘voice’ intimately.

So, if you fancy a challenge, open up the laptop and get started. And if you have a teenager in the house, why not get them involved too?

STEP 1 - PICK A GENRE

What sort of story that would best reflect your loved one’s personality and life?

A series of quirky poems? A classic caper? Or just a good old fashioned biography?

Don’t be intimidated by any option. Writing really isn’t rocket science (though us writers often pretend it is).

If in doubt, go for a simple short story that will go down the generations.

A short story is typically between 2,000 and 5,000 words. The writer Stephen Vincent Benét said short stories are “something that can be read in an hour and remembered for a lifetime.”

We like that idea.

STEP 2: PICK THE PLOT POINTS

Writing a readable biography isn’t just a chronological reciting of the facts. It’s about creating a narrative.

So what are the bits of the conversation that stood out for you? When did you laugh? When did you get emotional? When were you surprised?

Could any of these could be the ‘climax’ of your story. Or indeed the start. (That’s the way writing works; there really are no rules).

Even if you want to write a simple biography, don’t feel you automatically have to start with your loved one’s birth. Maybe your story starts with their first explosive argument with their parents.

STEP 3: JUST START

Don’t wait for divine inspiration to hit you. Chances are it won’t. Once you get started, it gets easier and the words will start to flow.

Scott Fitzgerald once said about writing short stories, “Find the key emotion; this may be all you need.”

STEP 4: AND KEEP WRITING

Be disciplined. There’s no excuse for writers block when you have so much material to play with.

Aim for 500 words per sitting. They don’t need to make the final cut, they don’t need to be great, but it’s easier to edit something than it is to edit a blank page.

STEP 5: RESIST THE CHEESE

If you’re writing about a loved one then there’s a natural urge to get sentimental and to feel the need to be profound.

Resist these compulsions.

State the facts. Let the reader interpret the emotion involved.

Don’t use cliched idioms (‘a match made in heaven’, ‘the apple of my eye’) and avoid flowery descriptions. Not suitable in any genre of storytelling.

STEP 6: FORGET THE FACTS

Does the year your loved one graduated from school really matter? Do you really need to know the name of the Church they got married in?

Don’t feel compelled to document every detail.

 

STEP 7: KEEP IT REAL

Don’t be afraid to include the hard parts, the struggles, that your loved one lived through (though obviously don’t include anything that would embarrass them).

Of course, if you’ve opted for that idea of a series of humorous poems, some gentle teasing may be required!

STEP 8: END WELL

Whatever you do, don’t end the story with your loved one self-isolating during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Think back to some of your favourite insights from your chats and consider what could be an uplifting conclusion. Their future dreams? Their positive outlook on life? Any advice they had for the next generation?

Once you’ve got your ending sorted, check in with your beginning again.  Sometimes the ‘theme’ of your loved one’s life will only reveal itself after having written their biography.

STEP 9: ‘THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS S*&T’

Earnest Hemingway is to blame for those words of writer-y wisdom.

Generally, you can spot a novice writer by the wordcount; at least double the length it should be.

A good writer uses the least amount of words possible. Even within a sentence.

When you’ve finished your first draft, read through it and cut the waffle. If even one word seems extraneous, cut it out.

STEP 10: TURN YOUR STORY INTO A BOOK

Make the most of your work by turning your Talking Tales story by gathering together some photos and creating a photobook. One that can genuinely go down the generations.

We love the beautiful templates that Blurb provides but worth checking out a few printing options.

Most printing companies also give you the option to download your book digitally, so you really can distribute it around the whole clan (even in Lockdown).

 

The Speechy Team

Just so you know a bit about us…

Speechy is a team of speechwriters, with a background scriptwriting at the BBC and working with the UK’s top TV talent.

Between us, we’ve written for much-loved comedy programmes such as Have I Got News For You and Dead Ringers and worked with numerous celebs including Richard Hammond, Dan Snow, Sharon Osbourne, David Mitchell and Mel Giedroyc.

Follow us on social media for more ideas on how to connect through the power of stories at this strange and difficult time. Icons below.

Email us at hello@speechy.co.uk to let us know if you’ve found Talking Tales helpful. We’d love to know.

Meet the Speechy Team
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