Books on storytelling
Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart (University Of Chicago Press, Reprint Edition, 2012). Narrative nonfiction is a journalistic genre that has come into its own in the last decade and continues to evolve with the emergence of online journalism and interactive documentaries. At the core of these works is solid non-fiction storytelling. In this book Jack Hart, former managing editor of The Oregonian, provides you with the best guide available on the methodology and techniques of writing narrative nonfiction stories. Highly recommended, this book is certainly one you’ll want to read more than once, write notes in the margins, highlight passages, etc. so it’s worth purchasing as a paperback.
Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need by Margot Leitman (Sasquatch Books, 2015). A storytelling guide that’s fun to read and very practical. Leitman, a comedian and winner of multiple Moth storytelling competitions, shares her insights into how to tell a story that will engage your audience. She covers how to structure your story, ways of creating emotional impact, and suggestions on improving delivery. Each chapter contains a lot of practical exercises to get you going. A delight to read. Whether you are putting together a client presentation or want to share stories at a story slam, or simply want to communicate more effectively, the insights in this book will help you along the way.
Talks on the power of story
The Danger of a Single Story (Chimamanda Adichie, TED Talk, 18:42). Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story (Andrew Stanton, TED Talk, 19:09). Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WALL-E) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning.
The Power of Vulnerability (Brené Brown, TED Talk, 20:12). Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
What Fear Can Teach Us (Karen Thompson, TED Talk, 11:30). Imagine you’re a shipwrecked sailor adrift in the enormous Pacific. You can choose one of three directions and save yourself and your shipmates — but each choice comes with a fearful consequence too. How do you choose? In telling the story of the whaleship Essex, novelist Karen Thompson Walker shows how fear propels imagination, as it forces us to imagine the possible futures and how to cope with them.
Examples of live storytelling
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Margot Leitman, Moth LA StorySLAM, Video, 6:43). Margot Leitman tells a story about her love for holiday edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s a tale of how they almost ruined her marriage and helped her get through a death in the family. As heard on NPR’s “Good Food.”
See also my Cinematic Storytelling Bibliography.
Return to the Reference Page Index.