RISK: Prepare a five-minute story about uncertain situations. Rolling the dice, leaping into the unknown, trying out that gas station sushi. Saying I love you for the first time and hearing back, "Thank you?" Bring us your tales of taking chances and reaping the rewards, or feeling the ouch.
Moth stories are told, not read. We love how the storyteller connects with the audience when there is no PAGE between them! Please know your story “by heart” but not by rote memorization. No notes, paper or cheat sheets allowed on stage.
Have some stakes.
Stakes are essential in live storytelling. What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer this, then think of a different story. A story without stakes is an essay and is best experienced on the page, not the stage.
Start in the action.
Have a great first line that sets up the stakes or grabs attention.
No: “So I was thinking about climbing this mountain. But then I watched a little TV and made a snack and took a nap and my mom called and vented about her psoriasis then I did a little laundry (a whites load) (I lost another sock, darn it!) and then I thought about it again and decided I’d climb the mountain the next morning.”
Yes: “The mountain loomed before me. I had my hunting knife, some trail mix and snow boots. I had to make it to the little cabin and start a fire before sundown or freeze to death for sure.”
Steer clear of meandering endings
They kill a story! Your last line should be clear in your head before you start. Yes, bring the audience along with you as you contemplate what transpires in your story, but remember, you are driving the story, and must know the final destination. Keep your hands on the wheel!
Know your story well enough so you can have fun!
Watching you panic to think of the next memorized line is harrowing for the audience. Make an outline, memorize your bullet points and play with the details. Enjoy yourself. Imagine you are at a dinner party, not a deposition.
No standup routines please.
The Moth LOVES funny people but requires that all funny people tell funny STORIES.
Take up this anger issue with your therapist, or skip therapy and shape your anger into a story with some sort of resolution. (Stories = therapy!)
Your eloquent musings are beautiful and look pretty on the page but unless you can make them gripping and set up stakes, they won’t work on stage.
How to Tell at The Moth StorySLAM
- Consult our calendar to find our published theme.
- Conjure, channel, craft and compose your story.
- Practice so you can remember it without the benefits of paper. Then practice it so you can keep it down to five minutes. Tell it to your plants but know that they are a tough audience. Revise. Rework. Curse your plants for not believing in you! Revamp. Finesse. Shave off another two minutes. Try again. Voila! Forgive your plants. Indeed, they helped you see the light.
- Come to the Moth StorySLAM and put your name in the hat. If you are one of the lucky 10 picked, you’ll have five minutes to woo the audience with tales of your on-theme escapades. Unpicked? Fear not, some variation of your theme will surely rise again. All stories have multiple themes and stretching them to fit can be fun and even bring out elements you hadn’t recognized before.
- Contestants are judged on sticking to the five-minute time frame, sticking to the theme and having a story that has a conflict and a resolution.
How to Be a StorySLAM Judge
- Let it be known! Seek out Moth Staff and ply with flattery and gifts, or just hang by the hat and ask!
- Once picked, be wise and heed the rules. Judge on the simple criteria: on time, on topic, a story (not stand-up comedy, an essay, or a rant) and true.
**All sales final