Frank Sinatra

I did it my way

To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
“Oh no, oh no not me
I did it my way”.

Sung by Frank Sinatra, lyrics by Paul Anka

I was listening to a podcast yesterday, James Altucher was interviewing Simon Rich, an American comedy writer. They were discussing the fact that there must be only three or four basic story ideas. All stories fit into one of these basic themes, such a deal with the devil, or the ugly duckling turns into a swan such as in My Fair Lady etc.

I am not sure if I agree fully that the list is that short, however the basic premise I believe is true, that many stories are built off the same basic story line, but told in unique and original ways. And they are none the worse for that.

That’s why I was intrigued when I came across a new site that is designed for stories for children to be iterated and retold multiple times by different authors. It’s a very interesting concept, as I love the idea of group collaboration in story telling anyhow and it’s coupled with the idea that someone can take someone else’s raw material and develop something original and new out of it. Isn’t that the basis of all creativity? Taking inputs and influences and personal experience and combining and creating something new in the world from that?

Today’s guest article was contributed by Natalya Efros from Tell it my Way:

Tell It My WayBy Natalya Efros

Natalya Efros photoProviding free and high-quality children’s stories online is a goal that a new storytelling website, Tell it my Way, shares with Short Kid Stories. The websites complement each other. Short Kid Stories features original stories and beloved classics tested by time, and Tell it my Way introduces brand new original stories and ever-evolving retellings of tales as a virtual simulation of stories traditionally passed verbally from one storyteller to another.

The stories on Tell it my Way are written and retold by the public. They may write original stories or retell other stories on the website with an easy to use interface. Readers can see how a story changes with a visual “branching” representation that tracks how a story is retold. Stories tend to improve as they are retold, benefiting readers.

The site makes it easy for teachers, parents, and children to find specific kinds of tales with an advanced search that filters stories on the site by theme, reading level, estimated reading time, and location where stories are from or where they take place.

Tell it my Way‘s readers determine which stories are the best by voting original stories and retellings up or down, changing stories’ scores, and they can also leave comments.

In addition, Tell it my Way aims to serve children’s writers as well as readers by increasing authors’ exposure on the web. Writers get credit for their work, as all stories show the writers’ user names, and they may choose to feature more information about themselves in their profiles. Readers’ votes and comments give writers constructive feedback as well. By crediting stories with user names rather than full names, Tell it my Way protects the privacy of children or adults who prefer to remain anonymous. The website also provides storytellers with a fun and friendly competitive environment.

In additiontell it my way, the website is a great tool for English and writing teachers, writing students, and writers’ groups. Users may create groups and subgroups for their classrooms, workshops, and other groups and then invite students or other members to join those groups and subgroups by email. Users can easily find stories written by their group and subgroup members, such as classmates, using the advanced search feature. Every group and subgroup has a unique code that users enter in order to easily find all the stories written by members of their groups or subgroups.

Elaine Lindy, also founder of Whootie Owl’s Stories to Grow By, was inspired to create Tell it my Way by the many requests she has received from storytellers to add their work to Stories to Grow By, and she sought both a place for these storytellers to share their work and a way to continually expand a collection of free children’s stories with positive messages that improve as they are retold. Reddit gave her the idea to allow readers to determine which stories are the best by voting.

Parents, teachers, and children can find great stories from around the world with positive themes by visiting Tell it my Way, and storytellers, writing instructors, and writing students can get their names out and receive constructive criticism by publishing their original stories or by retelling other stories on the site.

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Are you a fan of collaborative writing? What do you think of the idea of the new site? Leave a comment below.

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