Moonstone Memoirs - Guidelines
true stories told without notes in front of a live audience

What to do

Just so you know
Moonstone Memoir 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.

A story needs action and the action must have consequences. What is gained or lost? What is the urgency? What is the conflict? What is the goal and who or what is blocking it? How did the trip from Point A to Point B change or shape you?

Start in the action!

It must be YOUR STORY to tell
Were you there? Are you one of the “main characters”? Your involvement in the events as they unfold is essential. No journalism.

Have a great first line that sets up the stakes and 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.”

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.

Please respect the time limit
Your story should be five to seven minutes long. Practice your story with a timer. 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.

Here’s what we want:
Hook us in. Make us care about you. Paint the scene. Clearly state your fears, desires, the dilemma. Make us invested in the outcome. Introduce the conflict. Make us worried for you. Impress us with observations that are uniquely yours. Rope us into the moment when it all goes down. Conclude as a different person: Triumphant? Defeated? Befuddled? Enlightened? …CHANGED!

...and what not to do

Please no:

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!

Standup routines please
We love funny people but we require that all funny people tell funny stories, not one-liners.

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.

There are plenty of do-it-yourself tutorials online and on TV.

Major Confessions
That’s just too weird for an audience drinking wine. They are here to be entertained; not wondering if they should call your priest or the cops.

Fake accents, or caricatures or explanations of a culture that is not your own
If your story doesn't work in your own voice, or that of your people of origin, please consider another story. In our observations, imitating accents from another culture or race rarely works and often offends. 

Please use our stage to practice civility and respect. Please don't include racism, homophobia, misogyny or any form of hate speech. 
Please don’t use another’s identity (class, gender, race, orientation, body type, able-bodiedness, etc.) the punchline … or the story line. Your story, your struggles.

Please don’t repeat a story you’ve previously told at Moonstone Memoirs. Yes, we know the themes are loose (and that you could apply the same story to another theme), but chances are the audience has already heard your rap before. We all know what’s it like when someone tells us story we’ve heard before. Let’s not be those people.

Notes or Paper
Again, we just want you and your story…not artifacts of dead trees.


Tell Your Story
Guidelines for Telling a Great Story
Hear Moonstone Memoir Storytellers from past events