Everyone is a storyteller! 

Scotland is home to a wonderfully rich and diverse network of storytellers with varied repertoires and styles.

Many of them connect their love of stories with their upbringing or childhood influences, but what unites them all is a commitment over time to the practice of their art.

The work of the storyteller ranges from sharing stories for entertainment to leading storytelling projects with vulnerable groups.

While some of Scotland’s storytellers have been shaped by one or more storytelling traditions, most acknowledge a debt to Gaelic storytelling, storytelling in Scots, and the traditions of the Scottish Travellers.

Tradition Bearers

Honorary Founders of the Storytelling Forum who preserve and pass on the older storytelling traditions.

Professional Storytellers

Travelling throughout Scotland exercising their storytelling craft as a paid profession for entertainment, education and training.

Community Storytellers

Sharing stories in their communities or through their work, contributing to human wellbeing and quality of life.

How do I learn the basics?

There isn’t a right or wrong way to learn storytelling, just as there isn’t a right or wrong way to be a storyteller!

For an inspirational starting point, have a look at our storytelling resources where you can find tips on telling, story collections and video examples.

Storytelling and stories are traditionally passed on orally, so attend some storytelling events to listen and experience the variations of delivery.

Storytelling clubs are a wonderful and supporting platform for anyone to try out their storytelling skills.

There’s also TRACS training to explore, with regular Starting with Stories workshops that aim to teach participants the basics of the art.

The Scottish Storytelling Forum also runs an Apprenticeship Scheme for those interested in becoming professional storytellers.

View Resources
‘I heard this story from my grandmother, who heard it from her grandmother. And now I’m telling it to you...’

Storytelling Apprenticeship

People find their way into storytelling in wonderful and winding routes. Becoming a storyteller is different for each person, echoing the rich and unique character of storytelling.

Times have changed. In the past people were lucky enough to learn their stories at the fireside of their ancestors. Nowadays, stories are commonly learned from books, contemporary storytelling gatherings and video.

Apprentice Storytellers are working towards joining the Directory of Professional Storytellers in Scotland, dedicated to preserving the art of storytelling and keen to ensure the tradition of “passing it on” continues.

An apprenticeship could last up to three years, learning the art and craft of storytelling, from courses and mentoring to sharing stories with audiences, and there are training days held three times annually at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, offered free of charge to Forum Members to support development and continually foster a sense of community.

For more information and to register interest, get in touch with Janis Mackay below or phone +44 (0)131 652 3271.

Email Janis

How do I join the Directory?

Criteria for Submission to the Directory of Professional Storytellers in Scotland



You will have been developing as a storyteller for around three years (less/more depending on experience already brought): taking part in workshops, learning the craft, participating in apprentice events/mentoring schemes (where possible) and engaging with the rich culture of storytelling, taking opportunities to listen to other storytellers and to tell stories.

The Storytelling Apprenticeship peer support programme welcomes people wishing to develop themselves as storytellers. It invites storytellers to regular gatherings, to meet with others and share skills. In this sense, the word apprentice is used to describe anyone working towards gaining professional recognition as a storyteller.

You will be gathering a repertoire of stories and gaining experience in telling stories in a variety of settings to a variety of audiences. (Although a storyteller may go on to specialise with an age group or storytelling tradition, it’s important at this stage to demonstrate flexibility).

Providing References; two emails or letters of recommendation from people in professional settings who have witnessed the storyteller tell stories in front of an audience. These references may be from librarians, school teachers, festival organisers etc.


You will have an understanding of the art and craft of oral traditional storytelling and an ability to represent storytelling’s Vision and Values.

Development & Process

Providing Feedback; two feedback forms from Directory storytellers with at least three years’ experience should be sought. Ideally, the apprentice will have told stories in many settings, and the directory storytellers giving the references will have had experience of the apprentice over time, having heard them tell several stories. At least one of the referees should have heard the applicant in an extended session of at least 30 minutes solo, demonstrating an ability to shape a programme and hold an audience.

We recommend that, ahead of asking the directory storyteller to fill in the feedback form, the applicant engages with the storyteller, telling them they hope to go onto the Directory, and asking what feedback they might give. The emergent storyteller should engage with this feedback and use it as a pathway of development. A directory storyteller will only agree to complete a form when they are sure of the progress being made.

The feedback forms are robust and cover areas such as:

  • How does the storyteller engage with the audience?
  • Is the storyteller well prepared?
  • Does their voice carry the story?
  • Do their gestures and general sense of movement also serve the story?
  • Does the storyteller understand oral traditional storytelling?

The apprentice should acquaint themselves with these forms, to know what is asked and expected of them.

In the final six months before application, an opportunity should be found to demonstrate the delivery of an extended session of telling in a comfortable setting for the developing storyteller.

Once an apprentice decides to embark upon the process for Directory approval, their name will be brought to the attention of the Forum, with paperwork circulated in advance of the relevant Forum meeting.

For more information about applying to the Directory, get in touch with Janis Mackay or phone +44 (0)131 652 3271.