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The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques
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The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Master the Power of Story.
When you consider the thousands of years of storytelling that comprise our literary tradition, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the shadow of so many works. But there are common threads that link all stories--from "Beowulf" and "Hamlet" to "Gone With the Wind" and "The Godfather" to the story you're drafting right now in your head. These thr
Paperback, 263 pages
Published December 15th 2008 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  174 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I rather enjoyed this book and found some good ideas in regards to changing the way of thinking of an outline or mapping the story. I found myself implementing a couple of ideas from the book regarding using colored pens and a different color for each characters, plot and subplot and putting them on 3x5 cards. Some of the information in the book I've heard during my college days in obtaining my English degree.
David Todd
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nancy Lamb's book on writing is one of the best I've read. She has avoided many of the mistakes experienced writers tend to make in their advice books: forgetting what it's like to be a new writer, and a writer who has not yet been published by a trade publisher. She also avoided slanting her book toward trade publishing as opposed to self-publishing. I'm not a new writer (been at it for 12 years), but after years of frustration I elected to self-publish. Everything in Nancy's book was very appl ...more
Joshua Rivera
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Nancy Lamb does a great job in her book The Art of Craft of Storytelling and describes various techniques to help the aspiring writers get better. She goes in depth of the different elements involved in writing fiction. Elements like Building Plans- the initial step of thinking what genre interests you and discovering your story to write about; Foundation and Structure- helps to structure your story and how to correctly begin, maintain the interest in the middle part of the story, and end the no ...more
Dec 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I use this book for content for my lectures in a undergraduate-level creative writing class I teach. I like that the information is accessible, logical, and insightful. I wouldn't say that it creates break-through writing momements, but it helps put the whole process into perspective without mucking up the waters with too long of examples or overstretched lectures.
K.F. Silver
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: craft, non-fic
Information-wise, I would actually say it's three stars. Perhaps someone who has read less of the craft of storytelling would get more out of this, as it's an overall view of the basics. It did give me some missing links to what I know about cut-and-dry story structure, but there were a few points of blatant misinformation.

I decided on two stars, however, because I couldn't stand some of the author's personal injections:

* Using an unpublished story of her own as an example
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This being the first "how to write" type of book I've read, I have nothing to compare it to, but I really liked it. I thought it full of helpful information and tips. Got me excited to get back to work on my WIP. And, importantly, it wasn't a dry, boring read that put me to sleep. It was interesting and got the wheels in my head turning.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dropped
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Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
If you are a first time writer and start at beginning level, you may get some idea from this book. It basically covers all the aspects but nothing goes deep. I think if you write a short novel, this book may help you.
Jen H.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques is a must-have book for the aspiring writer. It is, without a doubt, the single best book on the subject of story writing that I have ever read. Among its many virtues was the encouragement I found in the final chapter of the book to "read, read, read" with a mind to asking questions while reading IN ORDER TO determine how to write well. Nancy Lamb supplies the reader with seventeen questions and I've found th ...more
Andrew Wooldridge
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So far (about 2/3 way done) it's an excellent, approachable book that will help you write better stories.
Some things that strike me about this book:

1) It's a much more vibrant and funny book that the dull, bland cover would suggest. If you judge a book by its cover, you'll totally misjudge this! It looks like some academic treatise on storytelling, when in fact it is a very personal, inviting, and frank discussion on how to hook your reader and keep them reading.

2) This is not
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have been searching...searching and I finally found you! I have been wanting to transition from writing poetry to a novel. I have read several other " How To " books on the subject but " The Art and Craft of Storytelling " by far surpasses them all.
Nancy Lamb's book...voice , resonated with me immediately , like a talisman initiating me into the mysteries!
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Emphasizes scenes (setting), plot, characters, viewpoint, dialogue, theme and narrative. Like many other books about writing, has several good sections but a lot of filler. However, the good parts are good enough to warrant reading the book anyway. The writing style of this book is like that of a novel instead of a technical book, which makes most of the reading somewhat tedious.
Elham  Nosrati
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book teaches many things that would took a writer years to learn. It is not only helpful in terms of learning fiction writing , but it is written is an easy-to-understand language. At the same time reading this book is enjoyable.
Veselin Nikolov
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book so I can add story to my presentations and make deeper, more believable D&D characters. This book gave me so much more - from basic understanding of story structure to scene construction. From narrative styles to character creation. Even some pure technical writing tips.
Keith Madsen
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a good review for me as a writer. The writer shares her experience as a writer, and uses humor ad insight, to show what makes for good writing. Most of what she says I knew from before, but there were also some new suggestions which will make my writing stronger.
Danny Bennett
Aug 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It didn't provide everything I was looking for, but I appreciate the book for giving me the basics on how story works. I liked how she would give a set of rules but then say that they can be broken if you're Charles Dickens.
Ken Kuhlken
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lamb accomplishes what she set out to do. Those who've spent lots of time studying the craft of writing stories may not find much they haven't already encountered. But it's a wonderful primer for beginners and a good review for veterans.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
An essential read for every aspiring author like myself. I will keep it close at hand from now on, it is a great reference book. It has unlocked the potential of my current work and has given me knowledge that will help my writing career... if ever I have one.
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I plan to buy this book to use with my community college class on Writing for Children. It includes an excellent explanation of point of view. Lamb also includes reading suggestions for each of her chapters. Some of these books sound so interesting that I've included them on my "to read" list!
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Aspiring authors
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly instructive and helpful. Learnt something new from each and every chapter. A guide I'll undoubtedly consult often during future writing projects.
This book has given my creative process a much-needed kick in the pants. I have to give it 5 stars, regardless of whether I agree with any particular detail of Lamb's volume.
Skylar Kade
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diy-mfa
One of the MOST helpful books on the craft of writing--I'm amazed by Ms. Lamb's prose, insights, and cogent way of conveying complex writing philosophies and techniques.
Grinelda Markowitz
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
great addition to my writer's resource shelf.
Margo Fallis
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoy the ideas and suggestions she gives. So many writing books are boring.. I enjoyed this one.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
This is a great book on writing. I am going to have to buy it since it's not the kind of book you read cover to cover but refer too over and over.
Jason Arias
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
A must read for anyone interested in improving upon their craft.
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is an incredible resource. Concise, easy-to-read, a must have for writers both old and new.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are things I (and I assume, other writers) know instinctually about writing stories, and this book explains why those things work and how to really use them well.
Brett Buckley
Jun 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Great for new writers.
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good read. Effective storytelling takes on many aspects which Lamb demonstrates. Both helpful if read or after you've written a book. I would recommend.
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Nancy Lamb is the author of 43 fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children. She is also the author of The Art and Craft of Storytelling and The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children.

Lamb serves on the faculty of the Big Sur Writing Workshop and the Big Sur Children's Writing Workshop. She taught at the Hariette Austin Writing Program at the University of Georgia. An