I first heard of this book whilst listening to an interview Tim Clare did with the author. Will Storr gave an excellent interview and even within the podcast he made some amazing points about storytelling that blew my mind. I went out to buy the book almost immediately and I would highly recommend you check out the interview at the very least.
The Science of Storytelling is a relatively short book, listed as 288 pages and there’s a fair chunk of notes and references in the back as well, but it is absolutely saturated with insight and lessons.
This book felt different to the other writing books that I’ve read before. It starts by explaining how our brains create the worlds we live in then moves on to the flaws that define us, the question every story needs to ask and then plots. Finally, it gives some writing exercises to help you create a story with a strong protagonist at its centre.
As I say, this book is saturated with information. I had to stop reading to be able to find a pencil to highlight all of the passages that illuminated some fresh part of storytelling and character creation for me.
I think one of the things that I most enjoyed and found most useful about this book is how it frames the flaws that we see in our characters. For some reason I think I have always struggled a little to come up with a flaw for a character that they learn to fix throughout the story. Something in my mind turns away from thinking of it like that, but Will Storr phrases it as the Sacred Flaw.
It’s not a flaw that needs to be fixed (as far as the characters are concerned) it’s something that they’ve molded themselves around and used to build the world they inhabit.
For example, a political leader who always thinks that they’re the smartest person in the room. It’s certainly a flaw that they think that but to them it’s a strength and what has given them the drive to catapult them to the very top of the political agenda. But once they’re there and begin to interact with their political equals who need to be treated with respect then we can introduce conflict and create a story from that.
The way that Will Storr explains all this and more in this book blew my mind and I am incredibly excited to put it to use in my stories.
I absolutely recommend this book to anyone writing stories in any medium.