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The Science of Storytelling

Why Stories Make Us Human, and How to Tell Them Better
Narrated by: Will Storr
Length: 7 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (324 ratings)

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Summary

Who would we be without stories?

Stories mould who we are, from our character to our cultural identity. They drive us to act out our dreams and ambitions and shape our politics and beliefs. We use them to construct our relationships, to keep order in our law courts, to interpret events in our newspapers and social media. Storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human.

There have been many attempts to understand what makes a good story - from Joseph Campbell’s well-worn theories about myth and archetype to recent attempts to crack the ‘Bestseller Code’. But few have used a scientific approach. This is curious, for if we are to truly understand storytelling in its grandest sense, we must first come to understand the ultimate storyteller - the human brain.

In this scalpel-sharp, thought-provoking audiobook, Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us, leading us on a journey from the Hebrew scriptures to Mr Men, from Booker Prize-winning literature to box set TV. Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories - and make sense of our chaotic modern world.

©2019 Will Storr (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"One of my absolute favourite writers." (Decca Aitkenhead)

"There’s nothing else quite like Will’s approach, with its illuminating, scientific take on storytelling. All writers, no matter what their level of experience, are likely to go away with a new understanding that will deepen and nourish their work." (Craig Pearce, screenwriter of Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby)

"Storr is irascibly good company, and has something approaching genius for marshalling his material." (Sunday Times)

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What listeners say about The Science of Storytelling

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

own dog food he did not eat!

As the book was about driving narratives it is odd that he didn't write it as a kind of story. There is some good stuff but I struggled to pay attention. The narration is too forced. Shame because I have enjoyed Storr's other work.

14 people found this helpful

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misses the mark

Too little content and way too many examples to illustrate the fews points that it has. Although I am 26 chapters in, I do not see things turning around significantly in the remainder of this book. Will update the review if I do find myself being wrong. update: Although it gets slightly better but it's not worthy of being a book just watch his Ted talk and you'll get the gist. Also it got worse it terms of the number of classic books and films it spolied in anger inducing ways. The narrative performance wasn't upto the standards I am used to in audible either. For the most part the concept of "sacred flaws" sounded like "sacred floors" and phrases like "rises from", "built on" further propagated the confusion.

25 people found this helpful

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Opening your mind to the basics of storytelling

Overall a good book to understand the basics of a great storytelling. The introduction is well structured and easy to follow. As the book progresses in the chapters, it became quite disjointed. I will listen to it again.

8 people found this helpful

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Fascinating and insightful

I was working on a storytelling speech project for my Toastmasters club and thought this might make good research material. Really, I think it is much more about writing stories and understanding story structure and value, so it wasn't especially helpful to my project but it was profoundly interesting and insightful. I haven't come across Will Storr before but I will definitely be checking out some of his other books now and also adding this to my re-listen list. Even if you're not a writer, we build our world and concepts of reality on stories and understanding that more is incredibly valuable. One of my biggest passions is understanding why we are who we are and why we do what we do and to that end, this book delivered more than I had expected. Highly recommended and definitely essential reading to professional writers who want to be successful.

7 people found this helpful

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A Perfect Combination

The Science of Storytelling is a wonderful combination of the ingredients required to write a good story, coupled with the neuroscience behind how (and why) we define a story as a good one. A captivating, insightful, and thoroughly enjoyable listen.

5 people found this helpful

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Very insightful

Well thought out, brilliantly researched. This book is an excellent follow up to Will Store's previous book 'selfie'. Human nature explored through the stories we tell. Fascinating stuff.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book. Connected the dots

Thanks Will! Fantastic job. Best non fiction book I have listened to so far. Great place to start screenwriting study. Gives you a framework and an h drstanding of why people enjoy Narrative. And why so many are a waste of Time.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MJ
  • 04-02-20

Now a must on my reading list

What a fab book. It goes a bit Gladwellian here and there but don't we all. The insights are top quality as is the list of classic but ecclectic material used to illustrate the basic science.

3 people found this helpful

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incredibly useful

as a performer and writer, I found this book fascinating and incredibility helpful. I'll certainly be using this structure and wisdom in my work from here on.

3 people found this helpful

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reader was pretentious

listened to selfie before, also read by the author. but this time it was a pain to listen. i felt as if someone told him to put more emotion in the Reading Which does not suit him. not authentic. pls keep reading as you normally do. love the story

6 people found this helpful

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  • Log Jammin
  • 12-09-19

will is a master. his guide helps parents, too.

it requires a deeply researched fact-based story to tell the story of storytelling. will exemplifies exemplary application of evolutionary psychology and proven structuring techniques in this engaging and well-told (and narrated!) story. I plan to utilize concepts the author details in order to guide my children while they're developing the story they tell themselves about themself.