500 Ways to Tell a Better Story by Chuck Wendig {Book Review}

Posted August 14, 2014 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments

500 Ways to Tell a Better Story by Chuck WendigFair warning: Chuck Wendig is NSFW, which probably means I will be too. Don’t believe me?

“You don’t just do a little ballerina twirl and a book falls out of your vagina” — Chuck Wendig

Right on, Chuck.

Part of the reason why I love reading Chuck Wendig—besides the jizz references—is that he says what people need to hear (and what I already believe) in a way that’s amusing. And, you know, not boring. He’s serious about his advice, but he’s not serious in his delivery and that’s part of why I kept wanting to scribble down what he says.

Like “Finish your shit” and “Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing.”

Mostly so I can shove these quotes in people’s faces later at the right moment. (I had other ones like “I don’t care if you’re outlining, drawing mind-maps, collecting research or spattering notes on the wall in your own ropy jizz — you’d better be doing some kind of planning lest your tale flail around in the dark” but that’s reserved for special people.)

I’ll be honest: Chuck Wendig isn’t for everyone. (See ropy jizz comment above.) But if you like his style and you want to write, this book will help.

500 Ways to Tell a Better Story is broken down into 20 lists of 25 items, all related to writing

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

If memory serves, some of these lists are pulled from posts from Terrible Minds, but presenting this information in list form (listicles?) makes it easy to pick up and read at your leisure. I always have a difficult time focusing on non-fiction books, so lists play well into that fractured concentration.

I skipped some lists (transmedia didn’t interest me, and I’d read ways to unfuck your story before), but there’s a shit ton of good advice here, even if some of it is repetitive.

But sometimes? You need to be. When it’s important, say it often and say it loud. Make it so people internalize it because then they’ll actually believe it.

*cough* Your first draft should suck. *cough*

Here are more of my favorite quotes from 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story:

—> “Talking about writing is not the same as writing.”

—> “Bring the reader to the story as late as you possibly can.” — On writing the first chapter

—> “All stories need unanswered questions. All stories demand mysteries to engage our desperate need to know.”

—> “If you’re uncertain about the use of any word, it’s easy enough to either not use it or use Google to define it.”

—> “Big words put distance between you at the reader.” — On word choice

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