Storytelling Tips, Page 2

Defining the Tales - Exploring Story Classifications

Oral storytelling, in my opinion, is a form of folklore whether traditional or modern. The following list will help you understand the basic types of stories. These are very general descriptions. They can be elaborated upon and broken down into further sub-categories if you wish. This list is just a starting point. It describes the major types of oral stories available to you.

What is Folklore?

Folklore is made up of the traditions, customs, beliefs, nonliterary tales, songs, sayings all
transmitted via memory and practice. Forms of Folklore include the folk tale, fairy tale, ballad, proverb, epic, jingle, incantation and riddle.

Individual types of Folklore

Folktales are verbal folklore that combine many folklore themes, are prehistoric and prechristian and are migratory tales. Folktales move from language to language, country to country and are part of the commonality of myth.

Legends are set in a particular time and place, deal with local tradition and relate the adventures of local heroes.

Mythology is set in the distant past and includes gods and/or creation motifs. The characters may appear in human form, have magic powers, are not given names and may be supernatural spirits. Themes may include stock characters, magic talismans, shape shifters and restoration, supernatural marriages and births, always have a happy ending and virtue is rewarded.

Tall Tales involve pioneering super heroes, taming the wilderness and preposterous feats.

Fables have animals with human characteristics, are short allegorical tales that teach a lesson, explain how the world is and are acted out proverbs. The earliest explained the features of an animal and established animal characteristics. Later fables used animals to teach moral lessons and satirize human beings. The characters are usually animals, talk like animals and have animal traits. The moral of a fable may be appended as a proverb. The styles are compressed, epigrammatic and dramatic.

Fairy Tales are short with no basis in fact, are marked by consistency of plot, have a happy ending and are magical or supernatural tales. Their themes emphasize miraculous events, fantastic transformations, may not have fairies in them, may be nursery tales, have stock characters, contain magic talismans and virtue is rewarded. The characters are not named, maybe supernatural or a fairy, appear in human form and have magic powers,

Ballads are romantic or sentimental songs that tell a story in poetic format.

Proverbs are short traditional sayings expressing an obvious truth and maybe an adage or maxim.

Epics are long narrative poems with a dignified style and chronicle the deeds of a hero. They are classified as classical, art or literary and folk or narrative.

Jingles have an obvious, easy rhythm using simple poetry or music.

Incantations are chants, words or formulas believed to cast a spell or perform magic.

Riddles are problems, puzzles or conundrums formed as a statement, question, etc.

Historical Tales are based on actual events, and the stars are real people recorded in historical texts.

Biographies and Current Events include stories about ordinary people as well as celebrities. These may be people we know or strangers who have inspired us.

Fantasy is an imaginative or fanciful work which often includes surrealism and symbolism.

Science Fiction is based on speculative science and may use possible future technologies to portray visions of things to come.

These are very general descriptions. They can be elaborated upon and broken down into further sub-categories if you wish. This list represents a starting point and serves as a lesson in the variety of types of oral stories available for you to draw upon.
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