The Context: Painting the Background

The story’s context establishes the setting or scene. It’s the “once upon a time” part that invites the protégé into the story. In a sense, the context allows the protégé to become a witness to the visions of the storyteller.

A story should start with a transition that uses words or cues—such as a long pause—to signify that a story is beginning. Protégés shouldn’t wonder why you are telling them what you’re telling them, and they shouldn’t be asking themselves, “Where does this fit in?” The mentor in the opening paragraph prefaced his instructive story on relationships with, “People are different. They don’t all see things the same way. It reminds me of the comic strip Mutt and Jeff.”

After the transition, ...

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