The following storytelling resources have been a boon to our understanding and practical application of storytelling methodology, structure and form in career and life. We hope that they may lead you to investigate the timeless art and science of story to enhance your storytelling journey.
Sometimes the boon is treasure won on the quest, or love, or just the knowledge that the special world exists and can be survived. Sometimes it’s just coming home with a good story to tell.
— Christoph Vogler, excerpt from The Writer’s Journey
Our Favourite Books
  • Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting
    My awakening to storytelling as a strategic business skill began in 2005 while attending Robert McKee’s Story Seminar in London. His book, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, condenses his 4-day marathon of lectures into 490 pages explaining the "magic" of story construction and the relationship between structure and character. Harvard Business Review writer, Bronwyn Fryer’s article, Storytelling That Moves People, is a smart insightful critique of McKee, his book and seminars. Worth a read.
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces
    As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists—including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.
  • The Writer’s Journey
    The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler outlines Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” as seen in Hollywood movies and how this universal framework to story actually works in our everyday life. Vogler was a story consultant for Disney in the 1980’s when he discovered Campbell’s Monomyth and how it was showing up in the best screenplays. He wrote a now famous memo to screenwriters about Campbell's work and how to use it in telling their stories, which ultimately led to this book.
  • Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story
    As CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, and co-owner of superpower sports teams NBA Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Dodgers, Guber knows a thing or two about storytelling in business. He shares his wisdom through the stories of his own wins and losses in trying to move people to action. He says we’re all in the “emotional transportation business,” and this book underscores the importance of using the correct story at the right time.
  • The Story Factor: Secrets of Influence from the Art of Storytelling
    Annette Simmons was a business storytelling pioneer long before the word “story” came to mean everything from a water-cooler opinion to a Superbowl commercial. In The Story Factor: Secrets of Influence from the Art of Storytelling, Simmons explains what stories you need to know in order to build trust and a rapport with an audience. For example, I’ve used her “Who I Am” and “Why I Am Here” stories to do exactly that for many years and suggest you do too!

  • You Can’t Make This Stuff Up
    You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, by Lee Gutkind. Founder of Creative Nonfiction, a literary journal that has grown to offer a plethora of writers’ resources. Gutkind has written this book as a guide so you can jump around depending on your story needs, and it delivers on its core mission of helping you create true stories well told. I’ve contracted with some of their staff writers for coaching, copy editing and journalistic advice for my own writing - always with excellent results.
  • Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story
    Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story. Randy Olson diagnoses the problem that when scientists tell us about their work, they pile detail atop detail - a boring procession of “and, and, and.” What communicators need then is an understanding of narrative structures to satisfy our brain’s natural desire to solve problems. Olson’s innovation is isolating the problem-solution dynamic, i.e. the core narrative or ABT: “Agreement” (And), “Contradiction” (But), “Resolution” (Therefore) - the fundamental building blocks of a story.
  • Wired for Story
    Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. This is a guide of how writers can leverage cognitive storytelling strategies to create stories that light up readers’ brains and captivate through each plot element. Imagine knowing what the brain craves from every tale it encounters, what fuels the success of any great story.
  • Brand Bewitchery
    Brand Bewitchery, Your Complete Guide to Attract Loyal Customers and Conjure Word of Mouth Marketing by Park Howell. A former ad agency owner, Howell saw the writing on the wall that mainstream advertising’s day was over and went all in for story marketing. Like my own S.T.O.R.Y. Framework, Howell developed his own “Story Cycle” system, also based on Campbell’s Hero’s Journey blueprint. Howell produces and hosts a popular “The Business of Story” podcast.
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a summary of decades of research that led to Kahneman's winning the Nobel Prize in 2002. What I loved about this book were he and best friend, Amos Tversky’s devilishly simple experiments showing how our minds make up stories for nearly every situation and how powerless we are to resist story’s manipulative effects. The research of Kahneman and colleagues has led us to better understand how decisions are made, why certain judgment errors are so common, and how we can improve ourselves.
Online Resources
  • The Moth
    The Moth is a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. The Moth has an outstanding collection of stories recorded live on stage across the globe.
  • Creative Nonfiction
    The Creative Nonfiction Foundation inspires and supports writers of true stories by providing publishing venues and educational opportunities for a diverse range of creative nonfiction writing and writers
  • Zurich Storytellers
    Open mic monthly storytelling events organized by Zurich Storytellers  - a non-profit organization producing storytelling events and workshops for our story loving community.
About Zurich Storytellers

ZST live events are an intimate high-energy evening of 5-minute stories by people who have a passion and the desire to share authentic true stories with their hometown crowd. The stage is open to everyone, but our (very cool) L200 event space has limited seating - reserve yours now.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

Joan Didion 1924- 2021

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