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The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr. Book Review

May 12, 2019

Cover of the science of storytelling

The title of this book really does not do justice to its content. Using science in the title might imply a cold, clinical examination of story construction and very dry reading. The reality is that in The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr has created something that is both fascinating and an invaluable sourcebook for both writers and readers.

The Science of Storytelling brings together scientific research from many different angles, weaving it into a narrative which delves deep into a reader’s psyche in order to better understand what makes them tick and how a writer can connect with their audience in the most effective way. In doing so Will Storr crafts a masterclass in storytelling which is an enthralling story to both writers and even the most casual reader, as well as telling us a great deal about ourselves and our relationship with the world.

As well as presenting research, he brings in examples of great writing (resulting in an unexpected expansion of my library), which really work brilliantly with the science in cementing the principles of storytelling related to how we engage with a story.

This book is very different from many others I have read which seek to unpick stories and explain why they appeal to readers, because The Science of Storytelling gets to the heart of who we humans really are.

As well as being informative, The Science of Storytelling is also highly entertaining and, although a non-fiction book, is a wonderful example of how a writer draws in their audience.

Because of the way The Science of Storytelling is written it is likely I will buy it as an audiobook, because of the quality of the writing and the tale it tells of story-making. The whole book feels like an anthology of gripping short stories forming part of an unputdownable epic that no matter how many times you read you never get bored of because it is so entertaining, and you keep seeing something new each time. It will also make you think about your writing or your reading in a very different way, encouraging you to stretch yourself just that bit further while engaging in these activities to discover a whole new plane of creativity or enjoyment.

Definitely a book which should be on the list of any creative writing course and in the library of any writer or avid reader.

The Science of Storytelling was courtesy of William Collins via NetGalley.

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