I’m always looking for a great read! If you’re like me, you probably have a thousand books on your Kindle, some read and some not (shhh), or maybe you love the smell of books (also me) and have piles all over your home…some read and some not (shhh again).
Whether a lover of books or not, we are highlighting STORY this month at Clearpath.life. If you’re interested in storytelling, the structure and workings of good stories, how to be better at your craft (whatever it may be) or just to add to your growing collection, we’ve compiled a short list of amazing books on the subject of STORY!
We hope you’ll take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
1) Poetics by Aristotle
Aristotle’s Poetics has long been considered the bible for storytellers, on everything from fiction writing to dramatic theory. He was a philosopher, physician, scientist, a student of Plato, and, some may not know, an expert on writing. In Poetics, Aristotle lays out several simple rules to help authors achieve the “perfect” story. His rules can be applied to so many forms of story – film, drama, fiction, plays, etc. Some of his rules? 1) All stories are made up of 5 elements: Setting, Character, Plot, Dialogue and Thought. 2) Plot.is.everything. 3) Plot should be simple, not complex. 4) Characters must be good, appropriate, believable and consistent. 5) The “plot twists”/“moments when everything goes as unplanned”/“learning opportunities” are followed by the character’s discovery of himself.
2) The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
While not necessarily a how-to on the subject of storytelling, Steven Pressfield addresses a key topic for artists of all mediums: resistance. In all its forms, resistance can keep you from accomplishing what you want in life. And artists especially have to draw from an inner well of intentionality and drive to get things done. But he doesn’t just address the problem; he gives guidance, solutions and inspiration on how to tackle resistance and make the most out of your art. This is a must-read for anyone feeling stuck or needing a good kick to jumpstart into the creative process.
3) The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
This one’s a fun read! So much rich material relayed in an anecdotal style. Gottschall shares on his theory behind storytelling, arguing that story helps us navigate life, that we as humans are wired to tell and hear stories. While story can lead us in all different directions, most successful stories are moral – they teach us how to live and bind us together…we can shape stories, but Gottschall gives insight into how stories shape us.
4) Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
In Story, Robert McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450+ seminars (also considered a must) providing readers with a comprehensive explanation of screenwriting. But writers, storytellers and listeners alike can learn from his discussion on story. It’s theory and practicality all wrapped up in one dense package (this one’s not light reading, lots of depth). Some of his best advice? If you can say it without dialogue, then do (show, don’t tell). Don’t miss this book on how stories can transcend formula to become great art!
Of course, these are just a few of the many amazing resources on story. If you read any of our suggestions or already have, drop us a comment with your thoughts in the box below!
Featured photo by Claudia