Books on Storytelling

This week I published a book on storytelling, Story Secrets from Scripture. It is available in print and Kindle from Amazon. Writing this book was the culmination of a long-time study of storytelling.

How I Discovered Storytelling

Several years ago I formed a trio with a guitarist and bassist from church. We either performed songs that Bob the guitarist wrote or instrumental songs that I wrote. Bob had a great testimony from his previous life as a country music drummer. All that you might imagine to be part of a touring musician’s life Bob experienced.

Bob introduced his songs with stories about how finding Jesus Christ had completely changed his life. I, on the other hand, grew up in the church. While I have had my own ups and downs, I did not have the same experience as Bob. I felt my stories that I told paled in comparison to Bob’s.

I began looking for books on how to improve storytelling and found several. The ones below are those that were most impactful to me. They helped me tell better stories when performing. I also became interested in the study of storytelling and have collected many more books than these.

The Story Factor by Annette Simmons

The second edition of this book is retitled as Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, but the covered content is the same. My favorite part of this book is the first section on six stories you should know how to tell: Who I am stories, why I am here stories, teaching stories, vision stories, I know what you are thinking stories, values in action stories.

The Power of Personal Storytelling by Jack Maguire

The first half of this book consists of different activities to mine your memory for story material. Several exercises are described including interviews with family, alternate timelines, and revisiting old memories via photos and maps. The second half of the book includes techniques on editing and refining stories to tell orally.

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

This book draws on the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell who wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The essence of both books is that all stories share a sequence of events and character archetypes. Vogler left behind the psychoanalytical elements to focus on the structure of stories. Several examples from popular movies are included to illustration journey of the hero.

My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jeffrey Alan Schechter

Principally written for screenwriters, this book is like a screenwriting workshop. Starting with exercises to develop ideas, Schechter walks you through a sequential writing process to expand a story idea into four main plot points, add additional detail, write dialogue, resulting in a detailed outline for writing a script or story.

Creative Storytelling by Jack Maguire

While Maguire’s other book focuses on the development of personal stories, this book in more general in the approach of finding, revising, and telling stories. Maguire includes an analysis of different story types (fable, myth, tall tale, etc). and also the characteristics of children at different ages (birth-5 years old, elementary, preteen).

Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

This is the newest book in my collection. Dicks is a frequent guest storyteller on The Moth, a series of events that feature live storytelling without notes. Drawing heavily from his own stories, Dicks walks you through his approach to finding and developing stories.

Story Secrets from Scripture by Douglas Pratt

My book addresses storytelling using the parable model found in Scripture. Three chapters focus on story structure as evidenced in the parables of Jesus, including how to introduce and conclude stories. Other chapters include how to find stories (a common theme in storytelling books), how to find the right voice for stories, and how to prepare for a storytelling session as part of worship, vacation Bible school, or Bible study classes.

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