Jude Treder-Wolff's story "Behind The Mask" - about how she (mis)handled the anxiety of being a novice therapist at a community mental health center was featured on the RISK! live show and podcast. Click here to listen

"Storytelling is the most powerful way put ideas int the world today" Robert McAfee Brown Everyone's life experiences are the "stuff" of stories. In working with an idea for a story we may discover more about the meaning of an event or experience than we knew before, and in that way stories can have a transformative effect on how we look at ourselves and at life. We can become heroes of our own stories, or we can see how others are heroes because of a deeper look at their impact on us. Events and experiences shape us and through crafting a story to share with others we can more fully internalize our own power to shape their meaning. This power is something that makes us more uniquely ourselves.

Authenticity is what makes storytelling the unique art form that it is.

The power of the story is in the struggle.If you are telling about winning a race, the heart of the story is in all the reason success was unlikely, how those obstacles were expressed and how they were overcome. If you tell about a failure or heartbreak, the heart of the story is in coming to terms with this and how you are changed by it.

Create mental images for the listener through detail and color.
Think of your story as made up of two elements: the forward motion of the narrative (this happened, then this, then this, etc.) and the color (everything else, including descriptions, sounds, smells, and emotions). Make sure you include both!

Take the listener through an emotional experience. Share your internal thoughts and feelings as well as the events in the story.

Open with a scene to focus attention on a specific moment in time that sets the stakes of the story.

Create scenes with dialogue between you and other characters in the story.
The audience will follow the narrative best if there are enough scenes with emotion and character to balance out the descriptive parts that connect them. Example: "I see my sister looking at me with a look of horror on her face, and I say 'its this outfit, isn't it. You can tell me the truth. I look like a cake topper in this dress.' And she says 'you look like a cake topper in that dress.' And I say 'why would you say something so mean????"

Craft the story by deciding what the climax will be and working back from that. What is the emotional turning point, shift or transformation that occurs?

If the most powerful moment in the story is finally approaching a crush for a first date and being rewarded with a "yes" build the story so we not only care deeply about the stakes but cannot see ahead to the outcome. Every beat of a story is compelling if we are emotionally engaged and care about the stakes. Jude%20with%20Iowa%20teens%20in%20circle Jude%20with%20Iowa%20teens

In August 2018 Jude Treder Wolff coached a group of teens from Carroll, IA to find and develop stories for the stage using real experiences from their lives. Special thanks to Sonia Cuvelier Walsh of Serendipity Acting Studios who brought the teens to NYC for an exciting experience of seeing shows and learning about theater.

For storytelling coaching contact Jude Treder Wolff at judetrederwolff@gmail.com or call 631 366 4265.

(mostly) TRUE THINGS was featured in a great article about how storytelling shows boost local business in the Long Island Business News.


Lifestage, Inc is involved with Teen Storytelling projects in New York and around the country. You can see some of the results of a recent teen storytelling show in this video:


Fios TV did a segment about (mostly) TRUE THINGS and the intersection between storytelling and mental health.