Anonymous asked:

hi there. I really love your works, your essay about Korra, and the stuff about storytelling you've posted in the past. You really know what's what. Would you be willing to share some tips on becoming a better storyteller? Resources that you turn to? I've never been a creative person, ideas for stories don't come to me easily and what few ideas I have I don't know how to present in an interesting way. Thanks for reading my ask

I’ve had several people ask me this since the essay, and I honestly have no idea what sort of resources exist for this, but after thinking on it I can point you to what has helped me over the years:

  • In my experience, good storytelling is actually best learned through what not to do. Really learn to criticize—not hate—everything you consume. When something is bad, ask yourself why is it bad, and try to come up with different ways it could’ve been improved, even if it’s just for thought exercises (who knows? You may even inspire yourself a really good idea for a story too). If it’s already good, criticize it anyway, because then it teaches you how to always look more deeply in general and teaches you to think.
  • There’s a tongue-in-cheek book I read called How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. I definitely recommend it, since it operates on the same mentality of “I don’t know how to tell you to write WELL but I can tell you what NOT to do,” also it is god damn hysterical.

  • Reasoning With Vampires is a tumblr that gleefully rips apart Twilight books, but certainly makes you a better writer because of it.
  • Familiarize yourself with TV Tropes, maybe? I mean it certainly teaches you to recognize the common conventions, archetypes and cliches in stories, and can help you recognize certain things better.

  • Red Letter Media’s Plinkett reviews might as well be storytelling workshops, especially the Star Wars prequel trilogy reviews. (Trigger warnings for some really off-color jokes though.)

Obviously I’m trained more in the art of visual storytelling rather than prose, but it all comes down to the same sort of reason and logic, end of the day.

Also, in my experience, the sooner you separate Personal Enjoyment vs Critical Approval, the more grounded and reasonably you’ll be in your dissection of stories. Liking things “ironically” is a waste of time, just own up to it. It’s possible to love something that’s terribly done, and it’s possible to hate something that’s objectively well-made. Just constantly ask yourself and answer honestly about what you liked, what you didn’t, what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, what could’ve been changed to work for you, etc etc.

I mean, people will tell you to shut up and not waste your time thinking on [insert type of story here], but if they want to let their minds rot that’s not your problem.

Basically, if you want to make good stories, learn to study stories.

Hope this helps.

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