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The Mastery Path for Writers: a new way to learn the skills you need

Story Lesson 2: The World of Story

Imagine, if you will, a world where there is no print. No books. No newspapers and magazines, no billboards, no road signs.

Now imagine that there is no writing at all: no letters, no diaries, no notes passed in class.

And now imagine that there are no letters, no alphabets of any kind.

And now, if you can, imagine that this world without books and writing and letters is not one where those things have been wiped out, but one in which they have never existed, in which they have never even been imagined.  Read More 

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Story Lesson 1.1 Finding Stories

To become a storytelling writer, you need, first, to read lots of stories. Perhaps you do this already: you read genre fiction, which is usually story-based, or children’s books. But if you need to deepen your experience of story, you may want to turn to tales from traditional cultures, re-tellings of those tales, or stories by writers working within the story-telling tradition.

You do not need to “study” these stories; rather, just let yourself enjoy them—let them become part of you. As these lessons continue, you’ll discover many ways to make use of them. For now, though, it’s enough to read for pleasure.

To get you started, here are some lists of books you might like: Read More 

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Story Lesson 1: The Spell of Story

The next several lessons are a course in the basics of making stories. These lessons derive from a course I taught for a number of years in the MFA Program in Writing at Lesley University. They provide fundamental practices to help you become a better storyteller on the page.


Telling Tales

All literature is oral at its root…. Dante, Shakespeare, Melville, Flaubert, Joyce are read because they speak, although the pedants' books are mum.
—Robert Bringhurst, A Story as Sharp as a Knife


In my three decades of teaching, here's one of the most important things I've discovered: many people get stuck in their writing because they are trying to produce a complicated project, such as a novel, without first having learned basic skills. Aspiring novelists, as well as writers of nonfiction, often lack a most important skill—the ability to tell a story.

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