The mysterious S. and I are both interested in storytelling and narrative. I’ve been coming to the realization that this figures in strongly in the way I want to express myself professionally. And now that I’ve had this realization, I’m seeing the storytelling meme everywhere I look!
- Joel Spolsky cries for more storytelling in software writing in his latest book, The Best of Software Writing Volume I. I’ve been reading a bit of this every day, and this was the impulse that got me thinking about stories in my professional life.
Evelyn Rodriguez has been pondering the power of storytelling versus drier reporting techniques on her blog, Crossroad Dispatches. Thanks again to S. for the link.
I heard about Seth Godin’s latest book, All Marketers Are Liars : The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World on NPR. Fascinating, and possibly evil. So of course the book is now on my wishlist.
I have been imbibing of some great storytelling lately: the latest episode of the new Battlestar Galactica (one of the best dramas on television right now) rereading Sword in the Stone and Winnie the Pooh, and generally just reading blogs like Dooce and Eat Drink One Woman.
p>Storytelling is the method through which we communicate our imagination, our vision, and our feelings. Through stories we can relate people, ideas, time, and place in a cohesive narrative; otherwise, we just have a collection of uncorrelated facts: impressive and seemingly wise on the surface, but in actuality far too ambiguous to serve as a useful guide.
The book started out looking promising. It filled a real need. I remember several times standing in bookstores desperately trying to find a book on the very topic, but there was nothing to be found. So I started reading the manuscript full of high hopes. Bleah. I could hardly bear to keep reading. The author kept saying smart and interesting things. He even wrote clearly. But the book was thoroughly, completely, boring. And worse, it was completely unconvincing. The author had violated the number one rule of good writing, the “Show, don’t tell” rule. There was not a single story in the book. It was chock full of sentences like “A good team leader provides inspiration by setting a positive example.” What the eff? Pay attention. Here’s the way to say “a good team leader provides inspiration by setting a positive example” without putting your audience to sleep:
Go read the rest of the introduction to see how it ends.