Since the beginning of humankind, people have gathered around campfires to tell stories. It's a fun activity that brings friends and family together. Regardless of age or gender, everyone enjoys listening to a good campfire story.
Like any art form, telling great stories is a craft that should be practiced. If you're faced with the task of telling a campfire story, following these tips will give you a great start towards perfect it.
1) Stand Up
Try to get into the habit of standing up when telling campfire stories. If you tell your story sitting down, some people may struggle to see or hear you. Furthermore, standing up allows you to project your voice more effectively. It's perfectly fine for everyone else to remain seated, but if you're telling the story, you should stand up until you are finished.
2) Use Your Hands
Telling the perfect campfire story requires more than just oral narration; it requires the use of body language. Specifically, you should use hand gestures to help convey key points of your story. Hand gestures can turn an otherwise dull story into an active and engaging story. You can even use them to act out what's happening in your story.
3) Keep the Fire Going
Don't let your campfire burn out while telling a campfire story. A hot and roaring campfire is essential when telling a campfire story. It provides illumination while creating a relaxing atmosphere in the process. If you neglect to add more firewood to your campfire, it may burn out.
To keep your campfire going, add a few pieces of high-quality kiln dried firewood from Cutting Edge before you begin to tell your story. Our premium firewood burns brighter and longer than most other woods, so it's less likely to need replenishing during your story. But, if you are telling a true epic and discover your campfire dying down midway through your story, take a short break to add a few more pieces of firewood. A hot and roaring campfire serves as the basis for the perfect campfire story, so don't allow it to burn out.
4) Pull Out the Props
You can use props to enhance your campfire story. Perhaps the most common prop used in campfire stories is a flashlight. Even if you have a hot and roaring campfire (which you should), a flashlight will add a spooky element to your story. If you're telling a ghost story or other horror-themed story, for example, shine the flashlight in your face while you talk.
And if you happen to hear a noise in the woods (or if you want people to think they heard a noise), you can shine the flashlight in the direction of the noise to create a sense of realism. Of course, a flashlight is just one of many props you can use when telling a campfire story. Feel free to pull out other objects to make your story more active.
5) Research Campfire Stories
Now for the million-dollar question: What campfire story should you tell? If you don't know a story off the top of your head, you can either create one from scratch or tell an existing story. If you choose the latter, you should research some of the most popular campfire stories. You can check out this website for some ideas on campfire stories. Alternatively, you can always tell a relevant ghost story in front of a campfire. Regardless of where you are camping, there's probably a well-known ghost story in a surrounding city.
You don't have to necessarily copy an existing campfire story. You can make your campfire story unique and memorable by altering an existing one. By adding your own unique touch, you'll have a better chance at connecting with your audience. At the same time, you can rest assured knowing that no one has heard the story before.
6) Make Eye Contact
Don't forget to make eye contact when telling a campfire story. Whether you're telling the story to a single listener or a dozen listeners, you should make contact with them. Research shows that eye contact exudes confidence and authority.
By making eye contact with listeners, they'll subconsciously believe your story -- even if it's not a real story. The key thing to remember is that you shouldn't focus your eyesight on any single listener for too long. After maintaining eye contact with a listener for a minute or so, focus your eyesight on someone else.
7) Wait Until Sundown
While you tell campfire stories day or night, it's best to wait until sundown. The dark background with the bright fire simply allows for better storytelling. Once the sun goes down, everyone will be positioned around the campfire for warmth and illumination. And when everyone is gathered around the campfire, they'll focus their attention on you.
8) Avoid using green or seasoned wood
When you decide to to build your campfire, you'll want to start planning for your story. Hopefully, you have kiln dried firewood from Cutting Edge ready to use. Otherwise, you'll be stuck gathering fallen tree branches and limbs or using seasoned firewood. This presents several problems: green and seasoned wood will take longer to light. They also produce a lot more smoke and smell bad.
You don't want people moving around, coughing, or getting smelly smoke in their eyes while you tell your story. Using Cutting Edge firewood helps ensure everyone has a great fire experience, and the fire won't distract from the story. It will enhance it.
9) Consider a Classic Opening
You can't go wrong with a classic opening when telling a campfire story. The opening "Once upon a time," for instance, works well for nearly all campfire stories. It's a familiar opening that's been used in thousands of campfire stories. Another common opening to use in a campfire story is "Legend has it." Classic openings such as these set the tone quickly and help captivate listeners and pique their curiosity.
But you need more than one sentence to tell a good story. Consider using this simple story structure from Pixar: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
10) Keep It Short... But Not Too Short
The length of your campfire story will affect your ability to keep listeners engaged and interested. If your story is too short, it will lack any meaningful sustenance. If it's too long, some listeners may become bored halfway through the story.
So, how long should you make your campfire story? There's no set length for the perfect campfire story. Some stories will naturally take more time to tell than others. The best way to determine how long your story should be is to read your audience. If they look engaged, keep going and don't lose their interest. If people are starting to get distracted, better to wrap the story up quickly and concisely.
Ultimately, the goal of any story teller should be to tell a long story that feels short.
11) Listen to Others Share Their Stories
You should ask others to share campfire stories as well. When you are finished telling your story, see if anyone else has a story they'd like to share. Depending on the size of your group, you can keep the stories going long into the night. Furthermore, you may learn a few new tricks of your own by listening to the stories of others.
It's important to remember that you don't need to pressure people to tell a campfire story. Not everyone knows great stories, and even if they do, they may lack the confidence to share it in front of an audience. It's still important to ask, however, because when other people share their stories, it creates a more memorable experience for everyone involved.
The best stories deserve the best firewood
Make sure you're ready to tell great campfire stories by stocking up on the best firewood available. Visit our online store today, where you can find a variety of kiln dried Oak, Hickory, and Cherry firewood that is perfect for an amazing fire experience.