When I started with TPRS, I struggled with “asking” a story. I would write out a script and try to stick to it without soliciting much student input. I had to put a lot of effort into leaving stories open to the students. Over the years, I improved at this skill. The problem was that I focused on it for so long that I began “asking” too much and not “telling” enough. Somehow, I got it in my head that everything should be asked and nothing stated. I’ve realized recently that I need to provide base information first and then ask. I also need to be more aware of which aspects need told and which can be open to student interpretation. I would establish meaning with a few structures and begin asking very open-ended questions for the story. One of two things would happen:
1. The students would give input and take the story in different directions. Sometimes I could adjust, get the desired reps and keep students engaged. Sometimes I could not.
2. Students would not answer the open-ended questions early; stories would stall and students would disengage.
They key is knowing when to ask and how to ask. “Why” is a great question, but there are certain situations in which it doesn’t work. I got into the bad habit of constantly asking “why” and then trying to circle based on student response. Many times, I was hoping students would provide the same details that I had in my head. They usually did not do so. Now, I’m spending more time on planning out the basics of a story and planning what and how to ask. I’m not stripping the stories of student involvement as I once feared. I am adding a bit more direction.