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Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative
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Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  948 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Hook Your Audience with Unforgettable Storytelling!

What do Luke Skywalker, John McClane, and a lonely dog on Ho'okipa Beach have in common?

Simply put, we care about them.

Great storytelling is making readers care about your characters, the choices they make, and what happens to them. It's making your audience feel the tension and emotion of a situation right alongside yo
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2017 by Writer's Digest Books (first published October 17th 2017)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
If you follow Chuck Wendig's TERRIBLEMINDS blog ( you'll know that his power lies in presenting information in easy to understand, fun to read ways with contemporary examples, a sense of humour, and not a little bad language. You learn with a smile. When it comes to writing, he makes you believe it's possible as long as you put in the effort: hard work, real thinking, and a determined attitude. Not that he promises success... but he helps you to believe that you ...more
Sadie Hartmann
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I Googled "Writing advice for fantasy novels" back in 2015 and I clicked on "" which is Chuck Wendig's blog. His humor and his advice were spot on. So I made regular trips to the blog and even entered a few Flash Fiction challenges. Eventually, I was curious as to how the guy actually writes! So I bought a stack of his books (the first three Miriam Black books and Zeroes)
I LOVE the Miriam Black Series SO HARD. One of my favorite book series ever!
This book, Damn Fine Story is my
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
“This is not a book of writing advice. It’s not here to help make you a better writer. Rather, it’s here to help you become a better storyteller.”


If you all didn't know, I want to write my own book someday.

I have half a dozen story ideas in my head, and I've already written an outline for one of my books. Will I write a first draft soon? That question has haunted me for quite a while. AND it still does, but it's safe to say that Chuck Wendig's Damn Fine Story has pushed me to start writing my
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quite hilarious at times

I’m sure I’ll refer back to it now and again as I continue groping my way through my first ever story.

*makes sign of the cross*
*dry heaves into plastic bag*

I’m fine. Don’t send help.
I just have a bit of a fear response when it comes to writing fiction. It means so much to me, you see.

Perfectionism is a pernicious bitch, folks. For real. But I will subdue her. If it takes me the rest of my adult life. I will shut her up. And write to spite her.
Kim Bailey
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I like Chuck’s style. He makes me laugh. Out loud.
While there’s not a ton of new information about storytelling or craft in this book, I dare you to find a more energetic or entertaining presentation of the topic. Any book that can put a smile on my face whilst simultaneously giving me decent writing advice gets an A+ from me.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun to read, but more importantly, full of sound writing advice. This one has made me see writing with a slightly different perspective and gave me some good ideas to try. Love the snarky attitude of the author :)
Emma Sea
welp, it's a shame I accidentally ordered two copies of this in paperback, because I don't like it. It's an introductory primer on storycraft and will be an excellent first book for anyone starting their, well, first book, but it is not for me. It didn't help that Wendig's humor in here grated on me. I own and enjoyed all his other writing books, and I like his blog, but I think I just reached my breaking point with the schtick.

And now I have to find a home for my two copies.
K.F. Silver
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fic, craft
There is good information here about the art of storytelling, and will appeal to fans of Wendig's style and voice.

However, I feel there are books that present this same information better, as well as stick to the point and are more concise.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And with that, Chuck Wendig's Damn Fine Story becomes one of my favorite books on the craft and art of storytelling.

Wendig delivers the lessons of this book from the key perspective that writing rules are... malleable at the best of times. He does not try to tell us how we must write. Rather, he begins with simple questions that largely stem from the idea--what are we trying to achieve? From there, he provides an overview and discussion of some key strategies and tools available to storytellers
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Chuck Wendig is a very funny person. With his masterful book, on the craft of writing, he's managed to consistently deliver laughs while tackling lessons in story, character and narrative drive. After the initial read, I've found myself cracking open random pages for bite sized bits of wisdom. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review and others posted over at my blog.

This was actually the first book by Wendig I’ve read (I have read his blog before and need to do so more regularly because he’s fucking hilarious) and now I’m forever in love.

First up, if you haven’t done so yet, please read something – anything – by Chuck, even if it’s just his blog. His tone is what I aspire to convey and fall horribly short of. He’s sassy, sarcastic, vulgar, funny, feminist and inspiring. I’m a total schmuck for not reading hi
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rock solid YMMV, for me. I haven't read any of Chuck Wendig's fiction, but he's one of my favourite writers on writing, okay, I find him very colourful and energetic, and practical, and reverent about the craft of it without getting too precious about it, very encouraging, very inclusive, I just really like his stuff on the subject, so much and quite a bit.

What really shucked my corn with this one was the near-total reliance on Star Wars and Die Hard to make his points. For one thing, it always
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been writing since before I could actually write. When I was too young to read or write down my thoughts, I would walk next door to my grandma's with a pen and paper, sit on her lap and dictate a very important story to her so that my masterpiece could be recorded before I forgot.

This book was unlike anything I've ever read and I have SO many notes! I won't go into detail about everything or this review will be pages long, but I will say that if you're a writer who is interested in telling
Terrance Shaw
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The poet Miya Angelou once remarked that people won’t necessarily remember what you said or how you said it, “but they will always remember how you made them feel.” The most memorable stories, Chuck Wendig insists, are the stories that make us feel. A good story can also make us think, and, quite possibly, entertain us along the way. But the way it makes us feel is paramount. This may well be why so many badly-written books routinely make it to the best-seller list: whatever we may think about a ...more
Jennie Shaw
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I got a lot more out of DAMN FINE STORY than I thought, and I'm super psyched about it. A craft book that uses Die Hard and The Hunger Games as examples? YES PLEASE. Probably the most accessible dissection of what makes for an awesome story. I highlighted and tagged so often this book is now mostly orange. Totally one I'll reach for while revising. ...more
Scriptor Ignotus
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
A fun and pragmatic guide for storytelling, delivered with a surfeit of anecdotes and offbeat humor.
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 18th October 2017

If you want writing advice, this isn’t a bad place to stop. If you want advice on how to put a story together, this is a great place to stop. It has all sorts of anecdotes and examples about how good stories are put together, and sometimes about how well-known stories fail (think The Phantom Menace et al). It works just the same whether you’re talking writing a book, a screenplay, or sometimes even a good joke. Oral storytellers
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
This book climbed to one of my favorite books I have ever read... EVER read. That is huge. Chuck Wendig is now rubbing shoulders with Rowling and Tolkein on my shelf. I give it eleven HUGE thumbs up.

This is a writing book, a sculpted arch in teaching narrative, understanding it and molding it around any story you are telling. The way Wendig approached concepts was factual and candid, and completely relatable to any storytelling genre. He used several popular movie references as a guide to expla
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the most entertaining ‘writing advice’ book I have read. I could tell this was going to be a hilariously enjoyable book from the start:

“A lot of writing, storytelling, and even publishing advice is bullshit—but never forget, bullshit fertilizes.”

Wendig’s zany conversational writing style comes across as a mix of Douglas Adams and Mark Twain with a liberal sprinkling of Samuel Jackson that had me laughing out loud from start to finish. I would recommend the book for its entertainme
Maggie Downs
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ugh, now I have to make room on the bookshelf that holds all my favorite writing books, because this certainly deserves space among them. It's a funny, fast-paced craft book about hooking an audience and ensuring they care about your characters.
Author Chuck Wendig uses pop culture favorites like "Die Hard" and "Star Wars" as cultural touchstones to illustrate his points, and well ... if you know me, you know I love me some "Die Hard."
That said, this book about crafting a compelling narrative is
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I loved this book. Honestly, it's worth it for the last story alone. I'm still laughing.

So. On the writer's continuum, I've written a novel and am querying. I've written short stories which have been published and paid me. I'd like to write more novels and more paying things, and this book reinforced lessons I knew and opened my brain to new ones. All while making me laugh, smile, or nod sagely. I learned. I was inspired. I want to write even better than before!

It was never dry. The pacing was g
Aurora Dimitre
While sometimes Wendig's style could be a little bit much (and I do read his blog, I feel like I just wasn't ready for 230 pages of it or something), I do think he's got some good things to say in here. Obviously I love a lot of his books (mostly the Heartland Trilogy, but I also really dug Atlanta Burns, and I read Zeroes too, which was pretty killer), and so I am more willing to take him for his word here, but it did make me think about some things. And it's not one of those 'obviously geared ...more
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Conflict, theme, and character, in 200 pages. Made me look at these in many different ways, so in that regard it's an effective book on writing and well worth the cost of admission.

However it was so sidetracked by needless, rhythm breaking jokes and tirades (often about poop, sex, etc) and bathed in pointless profanity that I found myself annoyed just as often as I found myself enlightened.

Also you *must* be familiar with Die Hard and Star Wars to get the examples.

Even though I hate the style, t
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing_books
I’ve read dozens of writing books, taken ten years of workshops, classes, and MA programs, but the secret formula for story still eludes me. There’s not much in DAMN FINE STORY that is new to me, but Wendig does a remarkable job of pulling all the relevant threads together and gives plenty of ideas on how to orchestrate the roles played by plot, character, pacing, dialogue, and arcs, not to mention theme, metaphor, and symbolism. As a bonus, it’s laced with his inimitable humor and attitude and ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are all kinds of books about writing. Some are very technical and high minded. Some are meant to be helpful to the teachers of writing. This one is more experiential and more about the story rather than the craft. There is nothing about the proper use of semi-colon or pages of prompts and exercises. This is about the love of telling a good story written by a guy who writes for a living. It is accessible, amusing and thankfully encouraging. It is not how to write, but rather about the kinds ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-books-2018
A lot of good information though uses the same movies as examples throughout, such as Star Wars and Die Hard (I saw the former when it came out, the latter - no thanks) mostly. Would have preferred more literary examples, but you’ll still get what he is trying to illustrate. Could have skipped the the family yarn he throws in at the end where he mentions that he shot a pet rooster. (Sorry, no patience from me for people who just knock off animals with guns because they can, even if he was a teen ...more
Ashley Capes
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Heaps of fun, told in Chuck's distinctive voice.

I think I enjoyed the personal stories within most, which isn't to say the advice wasn't ace too. And again, I don't want to sound like I couldn't use the advice simply because I'd come across most of it before - on the contrary, this was really good reinforcement, definitely got me thinking!
Alison Diem
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing, 2018
This is one of my favorite books on writing or storytelling ever. This, plus Stephen King's On Writing are the two books every writer should have on their shelves, preferably read many times over.

Wendig's voice is wonderful and funny, plus lots of lovely swearing, but he knows his stuff.
Alicia Thompson
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Katie Tillwick
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
Excellent instructional on the weirdness of writing fiction of any sort. Not for the beginner - will make much more sense if you have some writing experience first, and are wondering why readers are telling you *yawn*. Highly comparable to Donald Maas’s ‘Writing the Breakout Novel.’
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Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey.
He has contributed over two million words to the roleplaying game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP).

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is a fellow of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter's Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, will show at th

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“Put differently, a joke about Einstein only works if the person knows who Einstein was. (Note: Racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted jokes use this in the worst way, playing off of not just shared understanding, but shared prejudices.) Context and familiarity matter, and they matter in the stories we tell, too—if people cannot relate, or cannot be made to relate to the characters or the setting or the situation, they’ll be left scratching their heads and saying the same damn thing: “I don’t get it.” Every joke has its audience, and you tell it to them. Every story has its audience, too.” 0 likes
“a joke needs to do its job. A joke needs to be funny. It’s great if it’s also thought provoking or somehow profound, but those are not the uttermost functions of a joke. A joke that’s not funny is not a joke. Now, a story is different in that a story doesn’t need to be funny. That said, a funny story needs to be funny. A sad story needs to be sad. An adventure or a thriller needs to be exciting, and a scary story needs to be (drumroll, please) scary. Going in and telling a story means knowing what the story needs to do, and then tweaking it to do that. Comedians don’t just blurt out hilarious shit all day. They aren’t joke robots. They craft their humor. They practice their bits on stage and in front of people; they tweak the timing, they change the silences and applause breaks, they fidget with word choice. And a story is like that, too. Sure, it sounds natural and spontaneous, like you’re just some erupting story volcano, but the truth is, stories are practiced entities. The best tales are those that have gone through countless drafts and countless retellings to get that precious bowl of bear porridge just right.” 0 likes
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