Open to all students from all majors and levels of experience

StoryLab’s mission is to help Stanford students, faculty and staff learn the craft of Storytelling. Let us help you build vivid, compelling stories out of your research, personal experiences, imagination, and insights.

Every StoryLab begins at 1pm with an hour workshop with an accomplished storyteller. We examine the craft of one great performed story or one skill that will make you a better storyteller in any medium. Then, from 2 to 4pm, our staff is available for one-on-one mentoring to help you discover, develop, and deliver any story.

Stanford Students feel free to drop in - non-students need to make appointment by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Upcoming Schedule

StoryLab Winter 2015

Date Description Facilitator
Jan 9 Tiny metaphorical things
Explore how Cheryl Strayed uses metaphor to create resonant moments in her work and learn how to do the same in your own. (Cheryl will be hosted by SSP on January 13th.)
Jonah Willihnganz, Director, Stanford Storytelling Project
Jan 16 Write what you DON'T know
Employ Cheryl Strayed's favorite writing promts, drawn from her talk at Stanford. Cherie Steinkellner, who was originally scheduled to lead this workshop, will come to Storylab in the spring.
Jackson Roach, Producer, State of the Human
Jan 23 The writers' room
Step into the writers's room with Nip/Tuck's producer Richard Levine and find out how to write for television.
Richard Levine, TV and film producer, Nip/Tuck, Masters of Sex, Boss
Jan 30 Laughter and liberation
Discover how NPR Snap Judgment's Josh Healey keeps audience laughing -- and learn how to use your own experiences to change the story on the issues you care about most.
Josh Healey, award-winning comic storyteller and activist
Feb 6 Dive deep into your interviews
Explore interviewing with media producer Claire Schoen and figure out how to get profound stories.
Claire Schoen, audio storyteller and media producer
Feb 13 Saying it right
Sift through early drafts of stories and uncover what it takes to sound natural.
Joshua Hoyt, Senior Producer, State of the Human
Feb 20 How to edit voice
Meet KALW’s audio guru and discover how to sound-engineer your way to the truth.
Chris Hoff, senior sound engineer and editor for KALW's daily news magazine Crosscurrents.
Feb 27 How to make a story sing
Explore how to score your story and learn how to make music do what you want it to.
Chris Hoff, senior sound engineer and editor for KALW's daily news magazine Crosscurrents.
Mar 6 Braden Grant ins and outs
Meet our grants manager and get ready to apply for a Braden Grant for the study of Oral Narrative.
John Lee, Braden Grants manager, PWR lecturer.
Mar 13 Process your process
Quiz a gang of Stanford storytellers and figure out how to manage your writing process.
Natacha Ruck, Senior Producer, State of the Human

Previous Labs

StoryLab Autumn 2014

Date Description Facilitator
Sep 26 Put on your Ira Glasses
Explore Ira Glass's storytelling strategies and discover the kind of stories you want to tell.
Nina Foushee,
Co-Managing Editor, State of the Human
Oct 3 Make a scene
Find out how to turn moments in time into scenes and learn the shortcut to great stories.
Natacha Ruck
Senior Producer, State of the Human
Oct 10 Keep them laughing
Meet poet and performance artist Toaster and discover how to use humor to reach deeper truth.
Performance Poet featured on All Def Digital/InkslamLexus Versus and Flow
Oct 17 Go from page to stage
Explore the art of The Moth and figure out how to take your own stories to the stage.
Tess McCarthy,
Storycraft TA, member of the Stanford Improvisers and Robber Barons Sketch Comedy, and president of Stanford Swingtime
Oct 24 Find stories everywhere
Practice your interviewing skills and find the stories you want to tell.
Christy Hartman
Senior Producer, State of the Human
Oct 31 Explore graphic novels
Explore Marjane Satrapi and Chris Ware's Graphic Novels with Author and Co-director of The Stanford Graphic Novel Project  Scott Hutchins.
Scott Hutchins,
Author and Co-director of The Stanford Graphic Novel Project
Nov 7 Tell stories visually
Meet Cartoonist Thien Pham and learn to harness the superpowers of comics.
Thien Pham
Cartoonist and Visual Artist
Nov 14 Capture Great Sounds
Learn how to capture sounds that tell stories with a senior Producer from KALW's Crosscurrents.
Julie Caine,
Senior Producer for KALW's Crosscurrents & Audiograph
Nov 21 Turn Sound into Story
Try your hand at audio editing and figure out how to mix voice and sound to tell stories.
Rachel Hamburg
Freelance Producer and former Managing Editor, State of the Human
Nov 28 Happy Thanksgiving

Dec 5 Make Your Own Podcast
Quiz a gang of Stanford podcasters and figure out how to create your own show.
Will Rogers
Co-Managing Editor, State of the Human & Senior Editor, True Story Podcast

StoryLab Spring 2014

Date Description Facilitator
Apr 4 Become a Sentence Doctor
We all enjoy elegant prose, but we often have trouble achieving it. In this StoryLab, we’ll meet a writer troubled by her inability to write clearly. Together we’ll diagnose her maladies, and, in the process, you’ll discover fundamental strategies for effective writing.
Charlie Mintz,
Senior Producer, State of the Human
Apr 11 History Telling
Sometimes the best way to understand history is through a collection of stories. In this StoryLab we'll hear someone's experience of the day JFK died, and we’ll mine our own memories to illuminate historical events. Then we’ll figure out new ways to remember and convey history.
Nina Foushee
Producer, State of the Human
Apr 18 Walk into a Story
Discover from Sam Greenspan, of 99% Invisible, how to use your feet to tell perception-augmenting stories. With Sam, we’ll learn what we need to go on a quest for sound and story, and how to make a scene. Then you’ll decide if you want to become a radical pedestrian!
Sam Greenspan,
Radio Reporter and Producer99% Invisible
Apr 25 The Art of Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie is coming to campus Saturday April 25th! To get us ready for his visit, State of the Human’s Producer Joshua Hoyt will help us unpack the craft elements that make Sherman Alexie’s prose and poetry so compelling. Then we'll try them on for size! Plus you’ll know exactly what to ask Sherman Alexie that evening!
Josh Hoyt,
Producer, State of the Human
May 2 Explore Storytelling Through Fiction and Memoir
The techniques of powerful storytelling are similar in all varieties of the stories we tell -- whether in fiction or memoir. In this workshop, we’ll discuss how to choose the form that’s best suited to your material, and we’ll use exercises and published essays to explore elements such as image, voice, and narrative arc, that are essential to all storytelling. You'll come out of the workshop with a short, finished piece of writing.
Molly Antopol,
Jones Lecturer, "Writer of Seismic Talent"
May 9 Audio Editing Nitty Gritty
Back by popular demand, Pat Mesiti-Miller will delve deeper into the intricacies of sound editing. Together we’ll explore how to loop a tune to create the perfect arrangement between voice and music, and you’ll learn to sound design your way out of (almost) any problem!
Pat Mesiti-Miller,
Producer and sound engineer, Snap Judgment (NPR)
May 16 Dig for Gold
During interviews, it is sometimes hard to get people talking. Really talking -- not just spouting what they think you want to hear. Award winning reporter Marianne McCune (Planet MoneyWNYC, and Radio Rookies) has us test drive her interview strategies, ranging from total honesty and candor, to waiting quietly, playing dumb, prodding or even confronting! You’ll learn how to get people to open up, think out loud, and give you the golden nuggets you're looking for.
Marianne McCune,
Producer, Planet MoneyWNYC, and Radio Rookies
May 23 Found Sound
There is a wealth of sounds just at our fingertips, and we don’t always know it. State of the Human's Managing Editor takes us on a tour of the Stanford archives. Together we’ll look at how to use historical sounds, and you’ll learn to make your stories come alive.
Rachel Hamburg,
Managing Editor, State of the Human
May 30 Bridge the Techie/Fuzzie Gap
Do you have a great science story that must be told? In this lab, award-winning playwright Gab Cody will show how narrow personal storytelling can illuminate broad scientific topics. Together we’ll use techniques inspired by Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints composition and performance method to help you tell compelling science-based stories.
Gab Cody
Playwright and Film Producer
Jun 6 Open Lab
Come get help on one of your projects!
SSP Staff


StoryLab Winter 2014

Date Description Facilitator
Jan 10 Shortcut to Story
Every story is unique, but there are some moments many of us share: a first kiss, a memorable bike ride… These moments can be powerful shortcuts to stories. In this StoryLab, Victoria Muirhead, will share how to think structurally about moments to identify patterns that can guide our writing and our interviews. Then we’ll do an exercise so you can shape stories of your own.
Victoria Hurst,
Creator of the Poetry and Prose Reading Hour on KZSU
Jan 17 What Master Storytellers Do
Oral storytelling is the most ancient form of the wider narrative arts we now witness in theatre, film and beyond. In this StoryLab, mythologist and storyteller, Dr. Martin Shaw will demonstrate skills and techniques that working tellers have utilized for centuries to keep audiences enthralled. You will learn perennial strategies that create a container for transformational experience in the viewer - the movement from audience to participant.
Martin Shaw, PhD,
Author of A Branch from the Lightning Tree
Jan 24 Pitching Your Story
Sometimes, the hardest story to tell is the story of your story. In this StoryLab, Charlie Mintz will share with you tips on how to craft the pitch that will get your story published. Together we’ll look at what Julie Snyder from This American Life looks for in a pitch, and we’ll take a stab at making your pitch perfect.
Charlie Mintz,
Senior Producer, State of the Human
Jan 31 Poetry and Prose Combat
Get your stories into fighting shape with the Cornermen of Write Club San Francisco. Billed as debate club for sailors, what WRITE CLUB SF truly offers is a new way of looking at your writing: competitively.Casey Childers, novelist, copywriter, and magazine editor, and Steven Westdahl, actor, playwright, and improvisor, share some of their tactics and techniques for delivering knockout texts and performances.
Casey Childers and Steven Westdahl,
Write Club San Francisco
Feb 7 Stories Without a Narrator
Stories without a narrator are hard to pull off, and few people know how to tell delightful short non-narrated stories as well as KALW’s "Hear Here" community storytelling project. Producer Audrey Dilling will show how "A courtroom decision" and "Never give up on others" came to life, and share with us how to craft, emotional, and ear-catching non-narrated radio stories, from interview to post-production. You’ll learn the art of coaxing a story out of a stranger (in 30 minutes or less!) and how to turn that conversation into a powerful story.
Audrey Dilling,
Producer, KALW’s "Hear Here.”
Feb 14 Nailing the Start
Finding the right way to start a piece is tough, unless you save it for last. In this Storylab, we’ll look at how TV creators Aaron Sorkin and Steven Moffat get their stories started. We’ll see how The West Wing and Sherlock hook the viewers in, and then we’ll do an exercise on how to rewrite the beginning of your own stories.
Natacha Ruck,
Senior Producer, State of the Human
Feb 21 Cinematic Soundscapes
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a sound? In this StoryLab, sound engineer, producer and artist Pat Mesiti-Miller from NPR’s Snap Judgment will share how to use music and sound effects to create cinematic landscapes that grip your audiences and move them beyond words.
Pat Mesiti-Miller,
Producer and sound engineer, Snap Judgment (NPR)
Feb 28 Jumpstart your stories Sometimes the best way to create is to say “Yes… And.” Join us for engaging improv games: you’ll practice thinking on your feet, trusting your own voice, and learn how to create collaborative stories. Lindsey Yeager,
Oral Communication Tutor Manager, Stanford
Mar 7 Status: The Fuel of Comedy (and Story!)
Whether it's Mark Twain, Monty Python, or Modern Family, status change is what makes your favorite comedies…well…comedic! It's also the lynchpin of great stories. Underdogs making good? Status. Corporations being brought down? status. Jerry Maguire? Les Miserables? Star Wars? Status. Bay Area humorist and filmmaker Ken Grobe will lay out the basics of status change and what it can do for your stories. Then we'll explore how to identify (or create) it in the stories you tell.
Ken Grobe
Head Writer, Killing My Lobster
Mar 14 Braden Grant info session
Meet our grants manager and get ready to apply for a Braden Grant for the study of oral narrative. Grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded in the spring quarter for research to be conducted in the summer of 2014. Applications due April 1.
John Lee
Grants Manager