Unit 4 : Ira Glass on Storytelling

I watched parts 1 and 2 of Ira Glass on Storytelling to learn about his concept of oral storytelling. He described the strategy behind a good story, which consisted of what he referred to as ‘building blocks’. The first block is the anecdote, which is what creates the sequence of actions. It is the story in its purest form. I enjoyed listening to his concept of the anecdote as it made a lot of sense to me and got me thinking about the actual structure behind orally telling stories. Glass says that the anecdote is the product that helps the story move from one thing to the other. He also explained that no matter how boring a storyline is, with the way you tell the story, it has a momentum in itself. Also, with the way that you read a story, it creates suspense, and you can feel its form in a hearing way.

Glass then goes onto explain the second building block; debate. Initially, I was quite surprised to hear that ‘debate’ was the other crucial element in good storytelling, but after he further explained the concept, it made perfect sense to me, as of course, in order to tell a good story, you have to raise questions for the readers, so that they are compelled and want to read on.

Following this, he then explains the hindering aspects of audio storytelling. He explains that when the building blocks are separate from eachother, the story is not as effective, as for example, with the anecdote alone; the story is compelling, but it doesn’t seem to come together because there is no sequence of action. However, with perseverance and combining the two building blocks, you can make a good story.


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