Ideas and inspiration for personal stories can come from many sources. Here is a small selection of common story themes. Yours need not fit into one or any of these categories.
REMEMBRANCE OR MEMORIAL STORIES
Stories that acknowledge, honor or reflect on the life of one who has died.
Stories of significant relationships in your life. Common subjects are immediate relations, including parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse or partner. Other meaningful relationships may include a business or creative partner, a teacher or mentor, childhood or lifelong friends, even pets. Who are these subjects and what impact have they made on your life? Consider including stories of love, admiration, longing or loss, disappointment or a poignant reflection of a person.
THE GENESIS STORY
Almost all people, groups or businesses can point to a significant moment or event in the past that was a determining factor in how things are today, e.g., “If my mother had not taken a ceramics class, she would not have met my father….” The genesis story is an essential part of almost all family histories, examining the question, “Where do we come from?”
STORIES OF CHALLENGE
Stories in which you have experienced challenge and how (or whether) you overcame it. They can be physical as well as mental challenges, i.e., the challenge of climbing a 15,000-foot mountain, conquering the fear of changing careers or returning to school after an extended absence.
OBJECTS AND ARTIFACTS
All of us have owned or known of a possession that held tremendous value in our lives and the compelling stories that accompany them our website. Objects or artifacts can be as varied as a lucky charm, a rock found on a memorable hike or a precious family heirloom handed down through many generations. What are these objects, how do they exist in your life and what value do you place on them?
HURT AND HEALING
Sadly, it is guaranteed that human beings will experience at least some element of emotional suffering. Stories about pain and the healing process are ultimately about resurrection and finding a way to continue. These types of stories can be about hurt and how that changed you.
STORIES ABOUT A PLACE
Stories about locations, specific or vast, capture memories. Geographical places hold intense memories and emotional significance in our lives. Whether you have a fond memory of spending childhood summers on a grandparent’s farm or the painful recollection of a war combat zone in a distant country, reconciling stories and emotions of these places is a useful exercise in understanding ourselves—we might refer to it as narrative
archaeology: What’s buried in this place?
ADVENTURE, JOURNEY OR TRAVEL
This theme is an abundant source of stories, for we have all had some sort of journey or travel experience that can be told as an adventure.
THE SHOE BOX OF STORIES
Countless stories can be found in the well-worn shoe box or photo album filled with our treasured photographs. Each photo preserves a moment in time and each moment has a corresponding story: “Where was I when this photo was taken? Who took it? Who is in the photo with me? What was I thinking when this was taken?”
Excerpt from KQED Digital Storytelling Manual Chapter 1 “Finding the Experience” . KQED is a public radio and television broadcasting organization in Northern California, which also provides digital storytelling training.