The Best Books on Storytelling

Do you want to master the art and power of storytelling?

if your answer is no, then you need to stop dreaming of becoming a successful writer, leader or speaker!

You are reading: Best books for storytelling

Using stories is not a magic trick that only fiction writers have to worry about. If you’re a marketer or someone who does a lot of presentations, you need to learn how to use storytelling effectively.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to promote your products or services and increase sales. You should know that humans are wired to always seek enjoyment, even in things like marketing, so good storytelling goes a long way toward convincing them to buy your products.

and the same logic applies to almost all forms of writing, and being the loving writer that I am, I decided to put together a collection of books like “the art of storytelling” that I’m sure will help you. improve your storytelling techniques.

The Best Books on Storytelling

How to master the art of storytelling

You may be wondering why some people tell a compelling story so easily. it can be on television, at an awards show, at a business seminar, in a soap opera, and so on. wherever they speak or tell stories, they seem to connect with their audiences seamlessly.

how do they do it? What do they know? What do they have that you don’t?

well, there might be a couple of things in his arsenal that you don’t have, like these:


  1. know their audience. good storytellers know who they are talking to. they know the age range, interests, platforms that host their content, and sometimes the socioeconomic status of their audience. this knowledge helps them determine the type of content, language, and length of their story.
  2. share a part of themselves. in a way, the audience is tricked into caring and reading/listening to all the content. by sharing a part of themselves, storytellers make themselves vulnerable and connect with the audience. no matter the theme, merging a personal element always works because people always want an relatable look.
  3. They control the pace and flow of your story. good storytellers are always concerned with the pace and flow of their main points throughout the story. they make sure that, in their speech or any other written content, each important point is emphasized in a separate section. A good storyteller usually breaks up the main theme, organizes the sub-themes and supporting points logically, finds a nice way to introduce the theme, and makes sure the story ends on a resounding note.
  4. combine some tension and surprises. the audience (readers and listeners) must be engrossed in the story. there is not much emotion in a story that lacks tension and surprises. once the story gets boring and predictable, you’ve lost the audience. so make sure to incorporate some intense parts, full of unexpected twists.
  5. plan the story. Whether you are going to share the story orally or in writing, it is wise to have a written summary of the story. You can also make timeline bullet cards that summarize the story. if you’re good at designing your story, that’s good for you, go ahead and tell the story straight from your head.

13 best storytelling books and more

1. the art of storytelling by john walsh

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Telling a story, whether it’s to your friends or presenting it to a large audience, is always a difficult thing to do, but some people seem to defy this difficulty.

This book is what you need if you want to gain the ability to hold the attention of a crowd, “kill” a presentation at work, or entertain a couple of listening friends with your narration.

in the art of storytelling, john walsh presents invaluable tips and techniques that will help anyone present a compelling story. he draws on his experience and describes practical methods that helped him become a good storyteller.

walsh covered various aspects of content presentation including gestures and impressive endings.

2. jonathan gottschall’s animal narrator

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Can you really be good at something you don’t quite understand?

You have to understand a concept before you can even begin to think about mastering it. gottschall understands that storytelling is an important part of our society: we love hearing fictional stories, going to the movies, sharing rumors, and immortalizing people like shakespeare.

but he also discovered that no one has tried to decipher this wonderful attraction, this eternal love story.

then, he set about creating a “unified theory of narrative”. Jonathan Gottschall observes that stories help humans navigate life’s complex social issues and have the ability to change the world for the better.

The book uses history, neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology to explain how our tendency and need to include stories in almost everything has shaped everything around us.

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3. stories that stay in kindra hall

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business and storytelling go hand in hand, especially in an era where you have to constantly launch new projects and market your products in a highly competitive global market.

through stories that endure, kindra hall presents a well-defined model from which it borrows some brilliant ideas and steps to help you tell a compelling story.

Yes, stories are great tools for all contemporary businesses – you need great stories to communicate effectively with your teams, win over potential customers, and more.

but… you need to know what kind of stories to tell, when and how to tell them.

kindra hall uses four unique stories that you can use to differentiate, captivate and uplift.

  1. the story of courage. to convince customers that they need what you sell.
  2. the founder’s story. to persuade investors and clients, your organization is worth the investment.
  3. the story of purpose. to align and inspire your employees and internal customers; and
  4. customer history. to allow those who use your product or service to share their authentic experiences with others.

kindra hall is thorough, not explaining the importance of storytelling, but using case studies, company profiles and anecdotes backed by original research.

This book instructs readers on how to find, craft, and leverage the stories at your disposal to help your organization move forward.

4. long story by margot leitman

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Margot Leitman! a beautiful woman who can tell a good story. Don’t be fooled, she’s not on this list because of how she looks.

This lady is also an award-winning storyteller who has written for Dreamworks TV, the Hallmark Channel, and the Pixl Network. She has also acted in Best Week Ever and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

And you should know that that impressive resume isn’t the reason it’s on this list (well, it is, in part). is your bestseller, in short: the only storytelling guide you’ll ever need.

This is a modern and practical guide to storytelling that uses a fun, irreverent, infographic approach to expose the vital components of storytelling.

Telling a great story goes beyond fiction writing, and in this book, Leitman teaches the reader how they can craft a brilliant wedding toast, be a good storyteller at reunions and family gatherings, or give a powerful opening speech.

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she goes 360° with this artwork and offers advice on content, structure, emotional impact, delivery and more.

This practical guide is full of anecdotes, related examples and Leitman practical exercises.

5. history trumps structure by steven james

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I always say that, in fiction writing, rules are frowned upon. Apparently award-winning novelist Steven James is among the millions of writers who acknowledge this.

He understands that instead of inspiring you, writing rules can restrict you and limit your creativity.

but, instead of just talking about it (like me), steven james wrote a book about it.

story trumps structure, a book that was designed to “get rid of those rules.” rules on the three-act structure, rising action, schematization, and many other areas.

James tells us to “trust the storytelling process to make our story believable, compelling, and engaging.” tries to offer advice designed to debunk myths about scheming, climaxing, characterization, etc.

The book’s advice for writers? Instead of focusing on plot templates and formulas, focus on what is at the heart of the story (ie tension, desire, crisis, escalation, struggle, discovery).

story trumps structure argues that when you follow the advice there, you’ll start to think outside the box and start creating the most powerful, emotional and gripping stories.

6. the story factor by annette simmons

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Annette Simmons knows the power of storytelling and guides her readers in harnessing this power to persuade, motivate and inspire in life and business.

In this book, Annette Simmons showcases her captivating writing skills, shares her wisdom, and her deep understanding of the human spirit.

To influence others, you must know your own story and know how to tell it correctly. she reminds us that storytelling may be the oldest tool of influence, but it’s still the most powerful.

Whether you’re trying to close a deal, get seed funding, or trying to get votes, a good story will get you results.

To illustrate all this, Simmons uses countless examples of effective storytelling “sourced from the front lines of business and government, as well as myths, fables, and parables from around the world.”

7. story engineering by larry brooks

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A story is only as good as how you tell it; therefore, good writers know that they have to design their stories.

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but what’s in this engineering story?

story engineering delves into the dynamics of the story and looks at the things that contribute to form and function. The book teaches how to effectively combine six core competencies, namely concept, character, theme, story structure (plot), scene construction, and voice writing.

brooks believes that how these six specific aspects of storytelling “combine and empower each other on the page” affects the potential of the story.

plot plays a huge role because it’s often the solid first step, but when the six core competencies are artfully realized, the narrative blossoms and flows sweetly.

8. made to stay: why some ideas survive and others die from chip heath

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This is another interesting book about using the art of storytelling to influence others. It’s always a battle for survival in the socio-political arena, so people come up with different ideas to improve our lives and the lives of others.

some ideas prosper, others die.

but if you can’t get your ideas to stick, you’re stuck!

In this book, made to stick, chip and dan heath expose the dynamics of ideas that endure and explain how we can make ideas even more enduring.

They recommend techniques such as the application of the principle of human scale, the use of Velcro memory theory and the creation of spaces of curiosity.

made to stick is designed to transform the way you communicate and uses various real-life examples to drive the point home.

9. save the cat! the last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need by blake snyder

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As the title suggests, this book is a guide for screenwriters; however, screenwriting is part of creative writing, so it’s a great tool for other creative writers as well.

It will not only teach you how to build a story, but also how to create your characters, design a believable plot, and engage your audience.

Even if you’re not a screenwriter, you’ll learn a thing or two about the art of creating stories, learn how to make your ideas more marketable, and have fun learning these things.

10. how to tell a story: 1 book + 20 story blocks = a million adventures by daniel nayeri, brian won

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Learning new things should be fun! if you agree, then this is the perfect book for you.

daniel nayeri and brian won decided to add fun games to the process of learning new skills and improving storytelling and creativity.

how to tell a story is a guide to the principles of creative storytelling, covering essential elements such as conflict, characters, motivation, dialogue, theme, and climax.

You’ll learn and master all of these storytelling basics with the exercises and games in the book, complete with prompts and games that will inspire you to roll blocks and spin a story.

after all, what is creativity without fun?

11. how to write a dynamite scene using the snowflake method (advanced fiction writing) by randy ingermanson

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have you ever heard of the snowflake writing method? The snowflake method of fiction writing follows the concept of a snowflake: A snowflake grows from its central core and grows outward in all directions, eventually forming additional branches that make it larger and more complete.

This method was invented by author and writing instructor Randy Ingermanson, who is also the author of this book!

How lucky are we?

randy says that the secret to writing a “dynamite novel” is your ability to write a “dynamite scene”.

once you create a great scene, you can create a hundred others and thus create a great novel.

This book is designed to teach you simple, successful principles for writing a powerful scene or enhancing scenes already in your novel.

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I already wrote an article about the snowflake method, read it here.

12. understanding show don’t tell: and you really understand by janice hardy

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The deadly sin in fiction writing is “tell, don’t show,” and it’s only fair that someone decided to write a book on how not to commit this sin.

The “show, don’t tell” rule isn’t just important in fiction writing, it’s equally important in other real-life storytelling situations.

but it can’t always be displayed; sometimes, you have to tell.

In Understanding Showing, Not Telling: And Really Understanding It, Janice Hardy takes an in-depth look at prose, talks about when to say is the right thing to say, covers aspects of writing that aren’t technically revealing, and uses examples to clarify how revealing words they change the prose.

janice designed the book to help you distinguish when to tell and when to show, spot common signal words, understand why one rule doesn’t apply to all books, determine how much saying is acceptable in your writing, and improve your prose outdated or flat in his writing, among other things.

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13. putting stories to work by shawn callahan

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‘shawn callahan is a master storyteller, and one thing about learning from a master of a certain craft is that it instills confidence in the student.

That’s why this book is such an exciting work of art, written by the award-winning author and business storyteller.

Putting stories to work will help you master business storytelling and achieve extraordinary business results.

Shawn is a pragmatist and follows a clear process for mastering business storytelling, challenging the myth that storytelling has no place at work and reminding his readers that sharing stories is human nature.


He also recognizes that storytelling is one of the most powerful influencers. whoever takes advantage of this natural superpower can easily boost their business.

other great storytelling books

  • let the story do the work by esther choy
  • resonate: present visual stories that transform audiences by nancy duarte
  • the anatomy of the story: 22 steps to becoming a master storyteller by john truby
  • programmed for history by lisa cron
  • bird by bird: some instructions on writing and living by anne lamott (author)
  • big magic : a creative life beyond fear by elizabeth gilbert
  • business storytelling for dummies by karen dietz and lori l. silver man

What makes storytelling effective for learning?

1. stories stick together

The stories are easy to remember and this makes the narrative more impactful, especially for young learners.

naturally, storytelling is part of us; therefore, when learning involves stories told well, a large part of the lesson is remembered.

When a teacher only presents basic facts and figures, the lesson is less likely to be remembered than if it is taught as part of a story.

2. the narration is attractive

It’s easy to connect with students using stories because good stories create a sense of connection.

Stories evoke the imagination, allowing the listener to add their own bits, making them more open to learning.

good stories come with multiple facets and meanings. this means many ideas can be told in a short presentation, making stories an inexpensive way to gain new insights, think, and influence listeners.

3. storytelling meets the needs of many students

In almost every group of students, you will discover that there are different types of students.

There are visual learners (those who work best with videos, diagrams, illustrations, etc.), auditory learners (those who learn best through lectures and discussions), and kinesthetic learners (those who learn best by doing things, experimenting, or feeling).

And the nice thing about storytelling is that it has elements that work for all of these guys. the narrative evokes mental images, which are good enough for the visual learner, the narrator’s words and voice are good enough for auditory learners, and the emotional connections and feelings that the story evokes are good enough for kinesthetic learners.

storytelling in marketing and copywriting

Stories are typically designed to be deep, meaty and long, and can be tailored to produce brilliant copy.

Although a good text has to be short, snappy and straight to the point, a good story, which shares those qualities, could work magic for your text.

If you can weave together a compelling story that speaks to your audience and draws them in, you can have good copy. all you need from good copy is seduction, and what better way to seduce than to tell them a story?

narrative makes the reader imagine (makes them imagine using your product or service), and then makes them want it enough and finally calls them to action.

Next thing you know, they’ve paid for it.

In TV commercials and other forms of advertising, stories always work magic and they don’t have to be as short as in copy. Like I said, humans are storytelling animals, and if a story is good enough, it will give you a following and make you money!

Final words on the best books on storytelling

Storytelling is one of the most effective means leaders have to influence, impart skills, and inspire.

I’ve shared a couple of reasons that make storytelling so effective for learning, but there’s more: I was just trying to be cheap.

Stories forge connections between people and between people and ideas. the stories contain many elements such as culture, history, science, moral lessons and more.

Narrative is just as important in fiction as it is in our private lives and in the business world, so I’m not exaggerating that one must learn to harness it or get used to failure.

Besides “the art of storytelling” and the others mentioned above, there are more books, most of which aren’t on this list simply because I haven’t read them or because I was trying to be concise.

If you want to conquer the world, you have to read!

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