SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND – Beginning the Journey


Recently we’ve talked about “inching along” during the off-season and the importance of training our voices every season. Diligent efforts have a cumulative effect and garner great results. We all get better (at anything) one small step at a time.

Approaching new speeches requires those same sorts of baby steps. This is the time to hunt for platform topics and cut interpretive scripts. They won’t just fall into our laps or magically appear. Coaches are rarely stocked with lists and scripts for the taking. Competitive selections require careful consideration, adequate research, and lots and lots of R-E-A-D-I-N-G.

Over the years, parents and students have told me countless times, “Ziggy [a made-up name] really wanted to do a Humorous Interpretation [or some other interpretive event], but we just couldn’t find one.”

Here’s what I know…

“Ziggy” and his/her family probably just gave up too soon or neglected to give the process enough attention. Finding a good story that can withstand the rigor of competition takes work. Choosing a worthy cut that will captivate audiences and wow judging panels requires a diligent search. My theory has always been that for every 100 things I read, I will probably discover 1-2 ideas that will be great for competition, and even then there is no guarantee that there will be top ranks and trophies.

But here’s what is true…

Behind-the-scenes preparation, research, and rehearsal are the underpinnings of a speech that will deserve to “win.” We must do our homework. If you are on the hunt for an interpretive piece this year, then read literature of merit that has withstood the test of time. Review short story collections, classic anthologies, and lots of notable chapter books. Choose storylines that will resonate with any audience. Make sure the story includes characters that we all will care about and remember that the arc of the story must fall well within 10 minutes.

Here’s how John Steinbeck said it…

“If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen.  And here I make a rule – a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.”  ~John Steinbeck

Enjoy the journey as you choose not only a story that you love but that will be well-loved by others. So… keep seeking and you will find. Begin today.