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Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling

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A five-time Moth GrandSLAM winner and bestselling novelist shows how to tell a great story — and why doing so matters.

Whether we realize it or not, we are always telling stories. On a first date or job interview, at a sales presentation or therapy appointment, with family or friends, we are constantly narrating events and interpreting emotions and actions. In this compelling book, storyteller extraordinaire Matthew Dicks presents wonderfully straightforward and engaging tips and techniques for constructing, telling, and polishing stories that will hold the attention of your audience (no matter how big or small). He shows that anyone can learn to be an appealing storyteller, that everyone has something “storyworthy” to express, and, perhaps most important, that the act of creating and telling a tale is a powerful way of understanding and enhancing your own life.

368 pages, Paperback

First published June 15, 2018

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About the author

Matthew Dicks

13 books967 followers
Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, and the upcoming novels The Other Mother and Cardboard Knight, as well as the nonfiction Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was the 2014 Dolly Gray Award winner and was nominated for a 2017 Nutmeg Award in Connecticut. Matthew was also awarded first prize in 2016 and second prize in 2017 in the Magazine/Humorous Column category by the CT Society of Professional Journalists.

He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musicals Caught in the Middle, Sticks & Stones, and Summertime. He has written comic books for Double Take comics. He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in Reader's Digest, The Hartford Courant, Parents magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. He was awarded first prize for opinion writing in 2015 by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

When not hunched over a computer screen, Matthew fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a speaking coach, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach, and a Lord of Sealand. He has been teaching for 20 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a 35-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 5-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for This American Life, TED, The Colin McEnroe Show, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth, and many others. He has performed in such venues as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Wilbur Theater, The Academy of Music in North Hampton, CT, The Bynam Theater of Pittsburgh, The Bell House in NYC, The Lebanon Opera House, Boston University, and Infinity Hall in Hartford, CT.

He is a regular guest on several Slate podcasts, including The Gist, where he teaches storytelling.

Matthew is also the co-founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, and school districts around the world. He has most recently taught at Yale University, The University of Connecticut Law School, Purdue University, The Connecticut Historical Society, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Miss Porter's School, The Berkshire School, and Graded School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Matthew is the creator and co-host of Boy vs. Girl, a podcast about gender and gender stereotypes.

Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have two children, Clara and Charlie. He grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself.

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5 stars
1,977 (48%)
4 stars
1,425 (35%)
3 stars
541 (13%)
2 stars
106 (2%)
1 star
21 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 505 reviews
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,037 followers
July 23, 2018
Don't be deterred by the self-help seeming title of this book. It is much deeper, and much more useful. (Sorry, not a huge fan of self-help books!) This is the real deal, from an award-winning storyteller, teaching the reader how to tell stories using very specific techniques. He leads the reader through brainstorming exercises, how to remove unimportant elements, how to figure out the core 5 seconds of a story (even some surprising movie plots), how to end, how to pace, all of it. I teach a storytelling class every other year or so and this will probably be the textbook for our class next time. I also am in training to be a storytelling coach for our local program in town with the newspaper, and some of these examples were incredibly helpful. Storytelling has some differences from writing on the page, but writers might also find useful information in this book.

One trick I tried out immediately is the zigzag - using but instead of and. It was a revelation.

I find a little kinship here. George Dawes was present at one of his most important storytelling realizations, and Dawes was also at the very first raconteurs event I attended, where I was inspired to create a storytelling class in the first place, despite not knowing anything about how to do so at the time.

If you want a sample of a great story, try listening to one of his most awarded stories - "This Is Going To Suck."

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title via Edelweiss. It came out 12 June 2018.
Profile Image for katyjanereads.
732 reviews37 followers
January 7, 2020
1. This book made my imagination and my past run wild. I started thinking of stories I wanted to write immediately and wrote two of them out.
2. I was able to incorporate this information into my classroom and showed my students Matthew Dick’s TEDtalk.
3. I now want to listen to his stories.
4. I have been keeping a story of the day in my phone and I love finding those 5 second moments.
5. I have shared many ideas from this book with a lot of people and even bought it as a gift for my boyfriend.
6. READ this book to help you with any kind of writing.
7. I think this book will really help in my teaching career.
8. I would like a worksheet from the book that lists just the highlights of good storytelling to help remind me every time I write a story.
9. I also started a list of topics I want to start writing about from my past.
Profile Image for Jite.
1,009 reviews54 followers
June 9, 2021
*3.5 Stars*

This is a really good story crafting book that covers everything from how to come up with a good story ideas, what makes a good story, and how to actually craft a compelling story. It has a few great exercises that one can adopt to find compelling stories worth telling within the otherwise mundane events from our daily lives and our pasts.

My favourite thing I learned from this about compelling storytelling is how to make any story compelling by identifying your compelling 5-second moment of change. I think this is an interesting book where the author, wisely used some of his own stories to illustrate key ideas. I found his deconstruction of his stories really interesting and filled with teachable moments. That said, I’m not sure everyone will be a compelling storyteller like the author no matter how many of his exercises and assignments you do, because the fact is, he has just simply lived an incredibly eventful and interesting life. However, I think this is a great book to help you analyze what makes a story story-worthy and how to tell better stories. This is a book for if you’re looking to tell impactful personal stories of your experiences. This might not necessarily be helpful if you’re not looking for help with personal narratives- unless you want to use your personal story in some way for your project or business. But even being not much of a non-fiction reader, I really enjoyed this and learned a lot and found value in reading it.
Profile Image for Sara.
584 reviews55 followers
August 2, 2018
I've enjoyed Matthew Dicks' talks and his interviews on The Gist. If you've heard those talks, however, then much of this is skimmable. There is some very good advice on maintaining people's attention, although some of it ignores the social complexities involved in who gets the floor. I also found some of his statements about teaching to be problematic. In one instance, he tells a story about having his blog posts taken out context by an anonymous scandalmonger and almost losing his teaching position. This doesn't happen, he says, because he never swore or posted pictures of alcohol. This happy outcome, however, is less a defense of his moral character than a reification of the notion that K-12 teachers (and it's creeping over to college professors, too) aren't allowed to have lives that don't adhere to some Victorian notion of morality. There's a very thin line between firing a teacher for being photographed with a pint of Guinness on her trip to Ireland (true story) and firing one for having a same-sex wedding(also true story). And considering the load of bureaucratic absurdities piled on teachers, the eighteen-page lesson plans, the emphasis on acronyms over content, the low pay and lack of funding, the notion that teachers should surmount these obstacles and be entertaining at all costs is also wrong in my book. It's important to be considerate, to 'read the air' as they say in Japan, but some of my best teachers were drab, unsmiling people with droning voices who also really knew their stuff. The demand that a teacher also entertain is veiled capitalism at its finest.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
27 reviews
April 8, 2021
the simplest stories about the smallest moments in our lives are the most compelling - every story is essentially a five-second moment in the life of a human being

we are the sum of our experiences, the culmination of everything that has come before, the more we know about our past, the better we know ourselves

if the words 'and then' can be placed between two scenes - you're in trouble

enjoyable read, very literally taught how to tell a better story but also explored the importance of stories which was interesting, homework for life and thinking about the most storyworthy moment every day has been a good habit to implement, in the wise words of matthew 'fuck superman, I'll take storytelling any day'
Profile Image for Gina.
536 reviews24 followers
February 13, 2021
A very enjoyable book about telling a good story, and even more, about finding and recognizing the stories in your own life to tell. I have been following the suggestion to write down, at the end of each day, the moment in that day that is "storyworthy", that makes that day different than any other day. It is a rewarding practice, and I feel like I have captured moments in my memory that might otherwise slip through.
Profile Image for Lynn Cornelissen.
152 reviews4 followers
September 9, 2022
3.5⭐️ this was extremely informative and helpful. The author narrated the audiobook I listened to and although he did a fantastic job (no wonder he’s a storyteller), I would have preferred a physical format to take notes and highlight. This was completely my bad for picking audio format for a non-fiction, yet it did take away from my absorption of knowledge (thus not full 4 stars). I’ll definitely take some things with me and pick up a physical copy if I find it second hand. For those looking to improve their storytelling capabilities in any way shape or form, this is a to-the-point practical and sometimes humourously harsh approach to improving your skills. If you want to be more engaging as a person, partner, colleague or parent - this book has it all. I did think he went a bit overboard on the storytime breaks and overexplained some parts while I would have liked more details elsewhere.
Profile Image for Terry.
850 reviews35 followers
June 26, 2020
Mathew Dicks is a good storyteller and a fine teacher of his craft. This book bundles his knowledge, illustrated with several of his Moth Story Hour stories, in an easy to digest bundle. Some of his writing advice is familiar but no-less true (i.e.: write every day, pay attention to verb tense) and some of it is uniquely suited to oral storytelling. Writers and teachers of writing will learn from this, and anyone seeking to participate in a storytelling performance should heed his guidance.

The audio book was easy to listen to, even though the author’s narration is -perhaps - an acquired taste.
1 review
January 15, 2021
Interesting book for anyone who wants to be a better partner, friend and father/mother.
The first half of the book is perfect. The structure is clear, the stories are fun to read and the information is plentiful.
The second half felt more or less like filling the pages just for the sake of it.
I think the saying "less is more" would apply perfectly for the second half.
4 stars, could've been 5 easily.
Well done Matthew Dicks.
Profile Image for Annie.
800 reviews835 followers
August 3, 2021
This book is filled with valuable tips on crafting and telling stories whether to family members and friends or at work or on stage. Matthew Dicks is a teacher, writer, and storyteller, and he brings all his knowledge and experiences into writing an excellent how-to on storytelling.
Profile Image for RuS2m.
15 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2023
Одна из самых интересных мотивационных/начуно-популярных книжек которые я читал. Автор простым языком объясняет что такое сторителлинг и в чем состоит суть твоих жизненных историй, об их многогранности и ценности, а также рассказывает как находить такие истории в своей жизни, даже если с первого взгляда кажется что их нет.

Возможно это еще единственная научно-популярная книжка которая заметно принесла мне пользу от прочтения. Очень рад наткнулся на нее в момент, когда в жизни происходит так много разных перемен одновременно и постоянно кажется что время проскальзывает сквозь пальцы. Книжка предлагает простой способ как этого избегать - каждый день писать по самому storyworthy моменту за день, очень наглядно показывает насколько разными могут быть эти моменты и учит что чем дольше ты это делаешь, тем легче будет их улавливать. Спустя 20 таких написанных "моментов" (это слишком преувеличение конечно их так называть) могу точно сказать, что правда после этого есть ощущение что время замедлилось как минимум вдвое и больше нет ощущения что дни сливаются в один. Действительно, как предсказывает автор в начале книжки, немного расстраиваюсь, что не узнал/почувствовал этого раньше.

Конечно было бы круче, если бы у Мэтью Дикса не было такого бэкграунда, что он пережил клиническую смерть, ограбление, сидел в тюрьме за преступление которое не совершал, убежал от родителей в 16 лет ... и т. д. и потом доказывал что на деле-то самые интересные и незабываемые истории получаются из маленьких моментов обычной жизни, а не из каких-то сумасшедших и захватывающих приключений. Однако подкрепляя это несколько раз такими же интересными историями из обычной жизни автору удалось меня в этом убедить. К слову об этих историях, книга очень интересно структурирована. Поскольку учить тому как правильно рассказывать истории не рассказывая истории было бы странно, каждая вторая глава - это просто интересная история из жизни автора, которую он будет разбирать в последующей главе, и несмотря на то что это продолжается до конца книжки, все истории были очень личными и очень интересными, ни разу не было скучно их читать и это как-то разбавляло этот накопившийся типичный нонфикшеновский пафос.

Последняя треть книжки шла очень тяжело, потому что она была больше про разные лайфхаки: как прикольнее рассказывать истории, какие моменты историй лучше убирать для нарратива, о чем допустимо соврать в истории(такой вопрос стоит потому что автор топит что все истории должны быть правдивы и 100% твои, потому что иначе теряется эта уязвимость во время ее рассказа) и в какой-то момент это начало приедаться. Если бы она состояла только из первых двух третей, была бы просто идеальной научно-популярной книжкой.
Profile Image for em_wemily.
113 reviews19 followers
July 19, 2022

Before you read this book, keep in mind that this is specifically designed for people who are presenting their own lived stories before an audience, or perhaps writing a short story about such experiences, and less so for people who are writing lengthy novels or perhaps a series, especially ones that are fictitious or in the fantasy genre.

That said, there is advice in here that is still useful to someone interested in writing an extended novel or series, because there are some tenets of storytelling overall that seem to hold regardless of how long a writer's intended story is. That includes:

1. Exercises to find story inspiration that draws from author's life experience
2. The advice to keep a story centered around a critical moment of change/turning point, which Dicks calls the "5-second moment."
3. Ways to inject 'stakes' into stories (a means to keep audience engaged)
4. Instances when lies are acceptable in a story based off of the author's personal experience
5. Ways to keep the audience/readers engaged by placing every scene into an identifiable setting from the beginning
6. How to inject micro-doses of conflict/logically tie pieces of story together using conjunctions such as "but," "therefore," "however," etc. rather than loosely holding a series of events together like a list using only the word "and."
7. Ways to use elements of surprise to garner an emotional response from audience/readers
8. Advice on when to insert humor into a story and how to create it
9. Ways to avoid accidentally pulling audience/readers out of a story

This is just a list of things that I found most useful for me, as someone who is writing an extended fantasy novel that has absolutely no plot-related roots in my personal life experiences.

I found that most of Dick's advice focused on finding inspiration and keeping an audience engaged. He focused a little less on the makings of a great story in and of itself, especially ones that would extend for perhaps... 1000+ pages, therefore requiring many iterations of rising and falling conflict. While I found his advice very well organized and fantastic for his intended audience, I would also be interested in learning how to scale his advice to larger works, perhaps with many smaller stories and events embedded within it.

His advice could be helpful to:

1. Other spoken-word presenters/storytellers
2. Memoirists
3. Lifestyle Bloggers/Informal Bloggers
4. Short story writers
5. Public speakers
6. Teachers
Profile Image for Deb in UT.
1,224 reviews16 followers
April 20, 2021
I admire people who can tell effective stories. Matthew Dicks does a fabulous job explaining how to tell them. I've taken a few notes here, but I may have to purchase this book. I definitely need to practice the ideas he suggests. Dicks has convinced me that knowing how to tell good stories will improve my social interactions and help me be a more effective influence.

Dicks tells some of his own stories throughout the book. This keeps it entertaining and interesting. He uses his stories as a teaching tool.

The stories he's talking about are true stories. At the same time, he explains "permissible lies:"

*Leaving out unnecessary details
*Compressing time
*Assuming details that make sense that may have been forgotten
*"Conflation," which is when story tellers, "push all the emotion of an event into a single time frame."

Some other concepts from the book I want to remember:

*To be interesting and effective, every story needs a five-second transformative moment.
*Make sure the setting is clear from the beginning. Fewer settings is better.
*The beginning of the story shows the opposite of your five-second moment. Start the story as close to that moment as possible.

*How to increase stakes:
1) The "backpack," "loading up the audience with all the storyteller's hopes and fears" before moving the story forward.
2) "Breadcrumbs," "Hint at a future event, but only reveal enough to keep the audience guessing."
3) "Hourglasses," before reaching the transformative moment, "slow things down" through description.
4) "Crystal balls," making it easy to make a false prediction of what could happen.
5) "Humor," a way to "keep an audience's attention" through less-compelling sections.

*Using "but and therefore" instead of "and." This moves a story forward as opposed to a string of "and" events that run on and on. I was thinking this shows conflict. He says, "They signal change." "Zigs and zags" give the story energy.

*When to use humor:
1) "Start with a laugh,"
2) "Make 'em laugh before you make 'em cry,"
3) Comic relief,
4) To transition to another emotion.

* Humor strategies:
1) "Use language to carefully build your tower while saving the funniest thing for last."
2) "Two things that rarely go together are pushed together, humor often results."
3) "Humor is optional. Heart is nonnegotiable."

I recommend this book.
Profile Image for Lester.
444 reviews
November 3, 2021
I first listed to the blinkist version, which intrigued me. I then watched Matthew Dicks' story of his car accident on The Moth, which inspired me. I then began to read the book, which bored me intensely. I cannot understand why such a good vocal storyteller felt the need to stretch the first chapters with such endlessly detailed explanations. I ended up skipping pages to get to his point. My personal recommendation - watch him on TED, listen to blinkist or a shortened version of the book.

One thing I certainly find intriguing from this book is Dick's insistence that all stories should be your own stories, and not those of others, unless told from your perspective. In business storytelling, this luxury is not always available, and I have found (and other storytelling books confirm) that telling the stories of others is not only acceptable, but sometimes desirable (a leader can use such stories to make an employee the hero, for example).

Inspiring person, but did not make the cut for me.
Profile Image for Kenny Ahlstrom.
170 reviews4 followers
January 14, 2022
3.5? My brother Kevin RAVES about this book. If you ever meet him, there’s a 70% chance that he brings this book up something’s he’s learned from it.

Storyworthy is an interesting listen that helps you craft stories more poignantly and powerfully. We tell stories all the time so might as well learn to tell them right!

I learned a lot and want to implement the things Matthew talked about - which is actually saying a lot considering I read tons of books and don’t take any meaningful action afterwards. So maybe it deserves a 4?

Some highlights about storytelling
- start it as close to the end as possible
- the beginning should be opposite of the end
- every story can be summarized in a 5 second moment of learning. If there isn’t that 5 second moment, then you don’t have a story but just anecdote.
- avoid “and”
- you don’t have to live an incredible life to have stories to tell. Look for them.

Profile Image for Lena VanAusdle.
135 reviews6 followers
May 31, 2019
I love this book! It’s filled with entertaining stories and practical advice for becoming an engaging storyteller. The audiobook is great because you get to hear the author himself, but I recommend getting the paper version as well, you’ll want to make notes and go back to specific sections for review.
Profile Image for Knuckles.
1 review
January 11, 2021
I read this book piecemeal so as to implement the exercises set forth, primarily homework for life and crash and burn. They really are worth your time.

I would absolutely recommend this book, even if you aren’t particularly interested in utilizing the author’s advice for storytelling purposes, just for the stories he tells throughout.
1 review2 followers
April 25, 2021
Three key takeaways from this book for me have been:
1. Books are lakes; stories are rivers
2. Five second rule
3. Movement in story is shown with buts and therefores. Don't use ands
Profile Image for Wombat.
614 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2022
Well, that was interesting.

I picked up this book because I love stories and storytelling - so anything that might give some tips on how to do it better is worth a read to me.

The title does feel a little too "self-help-y" and the first part falls into all those stereotypes of bad self-help books - full of autobiographical notes that do not seem related to the topic of the book... But then the meat of the book is revealed - the author actually dissects his own stories, and shows us how they are created - the various "tricks" (methods really..) he uses to concentrate these stories and make them memorable and impactful.

Its great!

I liked that he listed a whole bunch of "daily exercises" to build up a backlog of potential stories, a bunch of methods of how to turn a "catalog of things happening" into a real story, and how to focus a story from a mediocre one into a great one.

Admittedly, this is a book by a storyteller so I should have expected a lot of storytelling in it - but it still grated on my nerves a little too much. Also, this book is aimed at an audience of spoken stories rather than written/filmed stories, so the emphasis is on spoken presentation and speaking to an audience (topics I am not interested in, so I am not the target audience), so there was a bunch of material here that didn't connect with me.

But the bits that did connect (about 2/3 of the book) really great stuff.
Profile Image for Santhosh Guru.
157 reviews42 followers
July 26, 2022
Whoa. This is a super awesome book on storytelling.

The title sounds like a cheesy self-help book, but it surprised me. I expected it to be like a typical non-fiction book, but it reads like a beautiful novel.

The author tells many powerful stories of his life and explains how we can also learn to tell stories. Not just fantasy stories, but authentic and honest stories of our lives that can connect with people. I never was aware of the storytelling communities or the art of storytelling. I knew standup comedy, screenwriting, and novels are ways of crucial storytelling. But I was thrilled to discover the world of storytellers, The Moth GrandSLAM, through this book.

I will dig deep into the rabbit hole of storytellers and workshops on this topic. Why wouldn't I want to entertain the people I love and respect with some genuine, authentic, and vulnerable stories of my life!

Damn, this is my best book of the year. Period.
Profile Image for Robert Case.
Author 5 books49 followers
May 7, 2020
I listened to the audible.com version of the book, narrated by the author. It was excellent. Found myself motivated to begin his recommended 'Homework For Life' practice.
Profile Image for BookishlyWise.
154 reviews31 followers
December 19, 2021
Read as summary and loved the insights this book offers. The rating is purely based on the content (minus all the fluff if any) because I read detailed summaries.
The daily habit of focussing on the highlight 5 second story of the day is great one to start building. Hopefully next year!
Profile Image for Mahshid Parchami.
134 reviews19 followers
June 4, 2022
کتابی درباره نکات داستان سرایی، نکات مطرح شده تا حدی برام بدیهی بود. کتاب خوبیه برای کسایی که نوع محتوانویسیشون بر اساس داستان شخصیته، مثه بلاگ شخصی یا کپشن های لینکدین و یا اینکه سخنران و مدرس هستند.
Profile Image for Signe.
52 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2022
Absolutely fantastic. Many tips and tricks. What's more, the author lives in my town and my daughter goes to school with his daughter. ( I had no idea when I picked this up at our town library.) I will aim to do the work of applying these tips to my conversations and lessons. Everyone loves a good story. I'd love to learn to both recognize these story-worthy moments and tell them with the goal of deepening connections with others.
3 reviews
June 8, 2021
Beautifully balanced and elegant storytelling. Full of insightful tips on context creation, narrative crafting, scene-setting, and use of humour. Throughout the work, useful insights are provided on how to improve you skills and gain an advantage in the oral game. A relevant book for anyone who wants to see expert storytelling, and take home some lessons to be used in all facets of daily life.
Profile Image for Obada Kattih.
42 reviews3 followers
July 12, 2021
This is a remarkable book written by a truly remarkable guy. He tells incredibly captivating stories about dying and coming back to life, getting tried for a crime he didn't commit, getting robbed at gun point, and so much more. It's incredible that one man could have lived through so much.

He argues that you don't need to go through crazy life experiences to tell captivating stories. We all have incredible stories to tell from our daily lives but we simply don't realize it. The story someone tells shouldn't even be about the crazy events that take place, but rather about how that story changes the storyteller as person. That's not a hypothesis you hear often, but he makes a very strong case for it.

The book is divided into three parts.

Part 1 is dedicated to helping the reader find stories to tell. He assigns exercises to do that he claims will make anyone who completes them realize how rich their lives are with meaningful moments that are story-worthy.

Part 2 is dedicated to teaching the reader how to craft their story. The do's and don'ts. This is probably what most people are interested in because it has incredible tips and tricks about how to craft and tell a more captivating story. A quick example is to ensure that every scene in the story has an actual physical location mentioned (it helps the audience imagine the scene). This is also the part where he explains that a story shouldn't be about some event that took place in your life or some cool thing you saw or did on vacation, but about a meaningful change in your life that the audience can connect with.

Part 3 is dedicated to teaching the reader how to tell their story. This is a much shorter section but also contains helpful tips for a good performance. For example don't memorize your story but know the scene order, avoid profanity and vulgarity, and use the present tense.

All in all this was a very entertaining book that delivered a lot more than just how to tell a good story. Would recommend for everyone.

Profile Image for Lorenzo.
61 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2022
I have never considered myself to be a storyteller. Quite frankly, I didn't believe I had experienced anything storyworthy. Growing up, I was the type of kid whose lips were sewn shut at the dinner table, eyes fixated on the stories played on my iPhone 5c covered by a case riddled with monkeys. For the longest time, I didn't believe I had anything worth listening to, so I never talked about or reflected on what went on in my life. Yet this book changed my perception of what can be a story.

What makes this book so special is how it conveys the beauty of storytelling. Our lives are made up of countless stories, whether they are as mundane as riding the bus to work or are notable enough to make an award-winning movie out of. Each day, each hour, and each second that passes by is an experience, another story waiting to be told. And we have our entire lives to pick and choose the moments that have the most meaning and impact on who we are fundamental as a person. Our experiences up until now are merely a bank that we can draw upon to piece together a story, one that can touch the hearts of others and transport them to another time and place. I love how Matthew pushes the reader to take a couple of minutes out of their day to reflect on what was the most impactful moment of their day. And as you do this, the more you fill the gaps in your memory and life. Time doesn't seem to fly by as fast anymore, and through your stories, you find meaning and obtain a deeper understanding of yourself.

Storytelling isn't about making yourself look good or boasting about your accomplishments; it's about connecting with others through spreading your truth and sharing an authentic piece of who you are. In doing so, a storyteller creates an environment that encourages others to do the same. Through his humorous rhetoric and his plethora of stories, Matthew Dicks opened my eyes to what it means to be a storyteller, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Profile Image for Nikhil Thota.
32 reviews10 followers
September 11, 2020
Matthew Dicks has by all accounts lived an... interesting life. I suggest checking out some of his stories told at The Moth before deciding if you want to read this book.

For context, The Moth is a non-profit dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. They have competitions in dozens of cities year-round, run storytelling workshops, and have a podcast called The Moth Radio Hour with the best stories shared at their events.

Having honed the art of storytelling for a large portion of his adult life, Dicks is able to give us a unique insight into what makes his stories so damn interesting. His core idea is that your stories don't need to be insane once-in-a-lifetime-experiences (though a lot of his are). They simply need to be presented in a way that provides the right balance of vulnerability, vividness, and relatability. Dicks also argues that all great stories have a 5 second moment that fundamentally alters the experience for the storyteller. Everything leading up to this moment supports a simple lesson — and your job as a storyteller is to help this moment unfold in the mind of the listener.

Dicks gives us a lot of strategies for increasing our repertoire of stories, my favorite of which is the Homework for Life. This is essentially asking yourself the following question every day:
If I had to tell a story from today — five minutes about something that took place today, what would it be? What was the most story-worthy moment of my day?

There are a treasure-trove of other strategies, tips, and lessons on the art of storytelling in this book that I won't spoil and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to become a better weaver of yarns.
3 reviews2 followers
June 29, 2021
I dove into this book with huge expectations. For the most part they were met. I do agree that the author's techniques are extremely effective whenever one has to speak up in various situations.

However, perhaps due to my culture difference with the author (I live in and grew up in Asia, in a country with a conservative culture), I am not completely comfortable with the book's approach to storytelling, which is fundamentally about talking a lot about yourself. This is something I can't get used to because where I come from, it comes across as selfish and arrogant; listening is more highly prized in conversations and interactions.

Another thing I felt off about was that I felt pressured to be "interesting" and "engaging." Again, perhaps due to a culture difference. The people around me, as far as I know, all try to be interesting and exciting as best as they can. Sure, they lack technique, but why should they be labelled a certain way when they're already trying their best?

In the final chapter, the author labels good storytellers as "superheroes" (which of course, also refers to himself). He goes on to say that there are plenty of people in this world who bore us, waste our time, and always speak so uninterestingly. For sure, storytelling is an outstanding ability, but in my opinion there is no need to put oneself on a pedestal with that sort of label. We are all people, each with unique abilities and lives, and I believe that means we don't need to classify people into "superheroes" and "dull humans" based on their storytelling ability. In my opinion, believing you are superior to others because you have a rare ability is disrespectful.

Again, please understand that I really do agree and see the value of the techniques he elaborated throughout the book. But perhaps due to some culture differences, this book came off as rather arrogant.
Profile Image for Janna.
23 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2022
This was very fun to read and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in telling, writing or even listening to stories.

The first part (about finding the stories that are hidden in the fabric of your days) was the most interesting to me. It is full of creative ideas which are relatively easy to implement, and I suspect those habits really do have a positive impact on how one remembers things.

The rest (how to craft and tell a story) was not as useful for me as I don't see myself performing something like that any time soon --though it is arguably also useful over dinner. But I just got a wisdom tooth removed so I don't want to talk or have dinner right now. In any case, although they did not appeal to me as much, those bits of the book remained engaging enough, and were pleasant to read. I didn't feel like leaving the book, and the author's engaging style and many embedded stories were enough to keep me hooked. The book is exactly the right length, so however applicable you find each piece of advice, none of the chapters drags.

The style is nice and the stories are (obviously) good, perhaps a few repetitions here and there -- voluntary, I think. It was full of new ideas for me and I'm happy I picked this up.
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