The Storyteller’s Resource Guide
51 Story Resources for Writers, Marketers, Filmmakers and Creatives.
Stories are everywhere. And they have been for sometime. But they’ve recently become something of a marketing phenomenon. Everybody is talking about stories. But what are stories? And how can we use them to better understand one another? There are a few influencers who are leading those discussions. And they’re worth listening to. Which is why I created this document to guide people on how to learn more on stories. These are some of the best places to read, listen and watch people talk about what make stories work. Enjoy.
1. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Love him or hate him, you’ve got to respect Gary Vee. He knows how to build a business, hustle and tell stories. Vaynerchuk is famous for his social media acumen, bold personality and love of the New York Jets, but knows how to deliver a flurry of non-stop storytelling gold. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook was written in 2013, but remains the most relevant social media book.
2. Story Genius by Lisa Cron
Humans are connected to stories because they’re hard-wired into our DNA. Lisa Cron is a writer, but she’s also a researcher and analyst who studies how stories impact people’s minds. Story Genius is part how-to guide and part psychology textbook. It explains how to use stories to tap into people’s mental state and grab their attention.
3. On Writing by Stephen King
Although he’s best well known for his works of horror, Stephen King is one of the best storytellers of our generation. His stories evoke emotional responses across genres and generations. King is also not shy about sharing his insights on writing and telling great stories. On Writing is the go-to book in the storytelling industry.
4. Long Story Short by Margot Leitman
Comedians are often the best storytellers—which what makes humorist Margot Leitman an expert. Long Story Short is her funny, but practical guide to telling stories that captivate an audience. It may not be the ONLY storytelling guide you should read, but it’s still one to include on the list.
5. The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
Storytelling is not entirely unique to our species, but it certainly is a defining characteristic. Humans have always told stories because it’s a part of who we are. Literary researcher Jonathan Gottschall dives into why this theory in one of the most complete works on storytelling. The book is chockful of examples to back up what makes us a storytelling animal.
Serial was perhaps the original viral podcast. Released in 2014, the first season took the nation by storm and helped to usher in the golden age of podcasting. That first season tells the story of a murdered high student in Baltimore and the boyfriend who was convicted with her murder. The podcast team unwinds the true-crime tale with enthralling detail and pacing.
7. Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller
Author and speaker Donald Miller is an expert on storytelling. His business is dedicated to helping brands find and share their true story. On his podcast, Miller unpacks these principles with a number of well-known guests. This podcast is more firmly rooted in professional development than it is entertainment; but it’s always a worthwhile listen.
8. Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell)
Malcolm Gladwell has authored a number of best-selling books on a number of topics. But the overall theme of Gladwell’s writing is changing our perception on something we take for granted. That’s the same basic premise of Revisionist History. Using his journalistic skills, Gladwell digs up things from the past that are forgotten or overlooked.
9. Hardcore History (Dan Carlin)
Are you a fan of stories from history? Do you like hearing all of the details that paint an epic masterpiece of historic narrative? Do you have about six hours to kill? In that case, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is for you. He may not be a historian, but Carlin is certainly a storyteller. He spends a lot of time and effort setting up the context behind historical conflicts.
10. Story, Not Story
Story, Not Story is almost the opposite of Hardcore History. Rather than factually accurate, these stories are made up on the spot. Rather than deadly serious, they’re playfully funny. This podcast is hosted by a married couple, Craig and Chyna. Also, these episodes are significantly shorter. But both podcasts are worth checking out by the curious storyteller.
11. Story Center
Story Center started as The Center for Digital Storytelling, which works to create spaces for transforming lives and communities, through the acts of listening to and sharing stories. The host workshops aimed at helping those in need to tell their stories. Their blog is a collection of some of these stories and what they’ve learned from them.
12. Jeff Goins
Jeff Goins is a writer who helps other writers write. Although he’s heavily focused on one potential storytelling medium, there’s still much any storyteller can learn from Jeff and the incredible guest writers that appear on his blog. Most importantly, the blog is an encouragement to anyone who doesn’t think they’ve got what it takes.
13. Humans of New York
Humans of New York is not specifically about storytelling. However, it is an outstanding example of how to tell stories. Founder Brandon Stanton moved to Manhattan with nothing but a camera in 2010 and started taking pictures of people. It’s lead to an online phenomenon that showcases the personal stories of thousands of real people.
14. Buffer Blog
Buffer is a social media scheduling app. But beyond that, they’re a great provider of content and training for social storytellers. On their blog, Buffer shares some of the best tips and tricks of how to connect with your audience and communicate your message clearly—both crucial elements to any story.
15. The Story of Telling
Bernadette Jiwa is a bestselling author on how to Make Your Ideas Matter. She gave a TEDxTalk on The Secret to Spreading Ideas. And her blog on storytelling was named the best Australian business blog. All of this is built around knowing your own story, so you can help others uncover their own.
STORYTELLING TED TALKS
16. The Clues to a Great Story (Andrew Stanton)
Pixar is one of the most well-respected institutions of storytelling in the world—and rightfully so. Andrew Stanton is a writer and director behind a few of their best-known films, including A Bug’s LIfe, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. His talk delves into what makes these stories and others so special.
17. The Technology of Storytelling (Joe Sabia)
Using an iPad, Joe Sabia chronicles the history of storytelling—from the first pop-up book to stories shared on social media. Although good stories share similar traits, technology has played a crucial role in shaping where we tell stories. This talk is short, funny and relevant to all storytellers.
18. The Future of Storytelling (Shonda Rhimes)
Shonda Rhimes is the storytelling mind behind popular TV programs like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. In this TED interview, she shares some of her insights on the future of storytelling, especially from an entertainment perspective. In a world where anyone can share a story, great stories are becoming harder to find.
19. Adventures in Twitter Fiction (Andrew Fitzgerald)
Storytelling has evolved with the mediums we have available to us. Television and radio once provided new venues for stories. Today, we have social media to share our narratives. Twitter in particular offers a unique storytelling experience on a micro scale.
20. The Mystery Box (J.J. Abrams)
Mystery is always an intriguing element of stories—and one that J.J. Abrams knows well. The theme of the unknown plays out in the films and shows he creates. And this all dates back to Abrams’ own personal story. We can all relate to the elements of wonder and discovery that he uncovers.
21. Story Gatherings
Story hosts a number of local gatherings and storytelling workshops across the United States throughout the year. But the big event is the Story Conference that happens in Nashville, Tenn., every year, usually around September. They’ve also got a great blog and podcast where they collect great ideas and insights.
22. National Storytelling Summit
This Summit brings together members and partner organizations of the National Storytelling Network. The Network creates a number of storytelling resources, including newsletters, a magazine and networking opportunities. The conference happens every year in Kansas City, where the organization is headquartered.
23. Nonprofit Storytelling Conference
Some of the best stories we tell come from nonprofit organizations that help those in need. But nonprofits need help telling these stories, which is exactly where this conference comes into play. Every year, hundreds of nonprofit professionals gather to learn and share ideas. The conference also offers a video-only version as well.
24. The Power of Storytelling
Because great stories don’t just happen in the United States, here’s an international storytelling conference. The Power of Storytelling happens in Bucharest, Romania and brings in speakers from around the world. This helps to embrace not only the power, but also the diversity of storytelling.
25. The Future of Storytelling
Storytelling is a key component of humanity’s past. But it will continue to shape our future, as well. Understanding that future is the task of The Future of Storytelling, especially how storytelling is impacted by technology. The organization’s summit happens annually in New York.
26. Pixar in a Box (Khan Academy)
We already know that Pixar tells great stories. But how do they do it? This series of behind-thescenes videos gives insight into what makes these animated films classic. It’s an in-depth look at powerful storytelling principles and how they are applied in a real-life entertainment setting.
27. Storytelling for Leaders (Skillshare)
Keith Yamashita founded SYPartners and worked with leaders from a number of industries. He understands what makes stories important and how they can be used in leadership. This free class is only 25-minutes, but it’s jam-packed with practical tips from real experience.
28. Transmedia Storytelling (Coursera)
From print to broadcast to social media, storytelling translates well across all mediums, both new and old. This course looks at some of the age-old storytelling principles that never go out of style. These principles will ensure you know how to tell stories across a range of platforms and that these stories will endure changes in time and technology.
29. Storytelling For Business (Udemy)
Stories not only have the power to entertain, they also have a meaningful place in the business world. This workshop from Udemy teaches how to apply storytelling in your own career. With both videos and exercises, you’ll get the tips you need to practice storytelling at work.
30. Powerful Storytelling Today (Skillshare)
More and more people have the opportunity to create content across a variety of platforms. But not everyone knows how to craft compelling or effective messages. Journalist Soledad O’Brien shares the storytelling lessons that she’s learned to connect with your audience and communicate clearly.
31. Like Stories of Old
Inspired by classic and current movies, this video channel explores the “boundary between film analysis and life lessons.” Each video covers a storytelling principle learned from popular cinema and how it ties into the stories of old.
Similar to Like Stories of Old, the Storytellers channel focuses on the writing in film. The video essays are created by “two best friends from Amsterdam,” but their videos are all in English. They examine the storytelling meaning and cultural significance behind a number of films.
33. Vlog Brothers
Created by famous young adult author John Green and his brother, Hank, this channel covers so much more than just storytelling. But stories are a common theme across many of their uploads. They explain everything from history, culture, science, and everything in between.
34. The Power of Storytelling
This channel is a collection of videos from The Power of Storytelling Conferences that happen every year in Romania. Their videos aren’t as polished or produced compared to some of the other channels, but they still have great insights from top visionaries and thinkers.
35. Muse Storytelling
Muse is a storytelling agency that creates short films for big companies. Founded on the idea that stories can change the world, they’ve worked with everyone from the NFL to the United Nations. Their channel showcases some of their work, along with videos on storytelling tips.
Started in 2003 in New York City, the goal of StoryCorps is to collect, preserve and share the stories of people from around the world. The collection of these stories will help to form connections and understanding between people. They’ve got perhaps the largest archive of stories anywhere.
37. Storytelling For Good
Originally called Hatch For Good, Storytelling For Good is an initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation to promote storytelling. The network connects storytellers to tools and community that aim to “leverage the power of narrative.” They have tons of free resources on the strategy, engagement, and evaluation of storytelling.
38. The Million Person Project
The Million Person Project asks the question: “If you knew your story could transform the world, would you be willing to share it?” Apparently, the answer for over 1,500 people is yes—because that’s how many people have shared their stories in this growing movement started in San Francisco.
39. Story For All
Story For All is unique among these other communities in that it focuses on the healing power of stories. Originally called Story Bridge back in 2011, this California-based organization brings together teachers, leaders, healthcare professionals, and creatives to educate and transform their communities through personal stories.
40. Working Narratives
Based in Wilmington, NC, this nonprofit organization aims to better our democracy through the telling of stories. They partner with dozens of other groups to help transform social and political justice by uncovering the narratives of underserved populations. They also consult with other nonprofits on how to improve their storytelling.
41. Story Wars
This is a collaborative writing platform that allows people to create a story together. Users of the app can select a story in progress to contribute to or start a new one. What results is bunch of collective stories written by strangers from everywhere.
Storybird describes itself as “a platform for writers, readers, and artists of all ages.” Aimed at educators, parents, and younger storytellers, this app allows users to write, read, and share both text and visual stories. They also have the opportunity to sell their work through the app.
In essence, Medium is one of the most popular and recognized public blogging platforms online. But it’s also a collective source for news, opinions, and great stories. With a robust community and solid user-interface, this is one of the best options for sharing your ideas with the world.
44. Story Pop
The tagline for the Story Pop app is “mobile storytelling.” It allows users to write and read ebooks on their device. These stories can also be more immersive because they can include images, audio, and video elements. Users can also build their own personal channel where their stories are showcased.
Goodreads is the best reading social media channel online. Owned by Amazon, this service allows people to track the books they’re reading, read book reviews, learn about authors, discuss books, and a multitude of other reading related activities. Great storytellers are also great story readers.
46. Nonprofit Social Media Storytelling
This closed group was founded by Julia Campbell, an influencer in the space of nonprofit digital marketing. The idea behind the group is to provide a place to share ideas and give support to nonprofit marketing professionals.
47. Church Storytellers
More than 2,000 church communications professionals have joined this group, created by Brian Mann, who is the go-to expert on church storytelling. It’s a great place to go for inspiration and advice on telling stories in the church, especially with video or graphic design.
48. Storytelling Academy
Created by online entrepreneur Marshall LIVE, the closed group is focused on the business side of storytelling. Members of the group can access content and advice on implementing stories in their company branding and message.
49. Global Storytelling for Global Development
Global Storytelling for Global Development (GS4GD) was started by Claudia Körbler, a speaker and United Nations interpreter. With over 1,600 members, the group exists as a “platform to share your stories, learn from one another and get involved in global development.” GS4GD shows that great stories are global.
50. TV News Storytellers
The size of this group (over 14,500 members) demonstrates the pervasiveness of storytelling in video. The group is an extension of The Sound of Life Storytelling Workshop that takes place for broadcast journalists in Asheville, NC. It’s open for workshop attendees to share examples of their TV stories.
THE ORIGINAL STORYTELLER
51. The Original Storyteller
Stories are everywhere. They are the common theme shared by all people. They exist in every language, culture, time period and nation. Stories engage and entertain. They create emotion and empathy. Stories unite and connect.
But why? What makes stories so powerful? Why are they so universal? How is a good story able to penetrate the distractions of a busy world? What causes a story to activate the minds of people anywhere? The Original Storyteller seeks to answer those questions through the lens of God’s stories. He is the first and best storyteller. His stories reveal the essence of all great stories. Take the 30 day journey towards becoming a better storyteller.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
― Joan Didion, The White Album
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works
“Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.”
― Michael Shermer
“Authors do not choose a story to write, the story chooses us.”
― Richard P. Denney
“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.”
— Tahir Shah, Arabian Nights
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
— Hopi American Indian proverb
“There is no greater power on this earth than story.”
― Libba Bray, The Diviners
“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin
KEEP TELLING STORIES.
Robert Carnes is a freelance writer and storyteller. He writes for a number of blogs and online publications. Carnes has worked for a number of years in marketing and communications for both churches and nonprofits. He serves as Managing Editor at the Orange Group in Atlanta, Ga. Follow @jamrobcar on Twitter & Instagram for more updates.