Table of Contents
What is “Storyworthy?
“Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling” is a book written by Matthew Dicks. The book was published in 2018 and is a guide to the art of storytelling. Matthew Dicks is a well-known storyteller, author, and teacher who has won multiple Moth StorySLAMs and GrandSLAMs, and he brings his expertise to this book to help readers become better storytellers.
In “Storyworthy,” Dicks shares his insights and techniques on how to craft and tell engaging and meaningful stories. He emphasizes that everyone has the potential to be a great storyteller, and he provides practical advice on how to identify and develop personal stories that can captivate an audience, whether you’re telling stories for entertainment, education, persuasion, or personal growth.
Some of the key topics covered in the book include:
- The principles of effective storytelling: Dicks breaks down the components of a compelling story and explains how to structure your narrative for maximum impact.
- Finding and choosing stories: He offers guidance on how to discover and select the right stories to share, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and relatability.
- Storytelling techniques: The book provides specific techniques and exercises to help you improve your storytelling skills, such as using vivid details, creating suspense, and connecting with your audience.
- Overcoming fear and self-doubt: Dicks addresses common fears and insecurities that may hold people back from sharing their stories and offers strategies for building confidence as a storyteller.
- Practical applications: “Storyworthy” explores how storytelling can be used in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional communication.
Overall, “Storyworthy” is a practical and inspirational guide for anyone interested in the art of storytelling, whether for personal development or for enhancing their communication skills in various settings. Matthew Dicks’ book encourages readers to embrace their own stories and harness the power of storytelling to connect with others and make a lasting impact.
“Storyworthy” by Matthew Dicks is packed with valuable insights and takeaways on the art of storytelling. Here are some of the key lessons and takeaways from the book:
- Everyone Has Stories: Dicks emphasizes that everyone has stories to tell, and your life experiences are a valuable source of material for storytelling.
- The Power of Authenticity: Authenticity is crucial in storytelling. Dicks encourages readers to be genuine and honest in sharing their experiences, as this helps create a connection with the audience.
- Structure Matters: The book outlines a specific structure for storytelling that includes elements like an engaging opening, conflict, resolution, and a takeaway message. Understanding this structure can help you craft more compelling narratives.
- Details Create Vivid Stories: Dicks underscores the importance of using vivid details to bring your stories to life. Descriptive language and sensory details can help the audience visualize and connect with your narrative.
- Suspense and Tension: Building suspense and tension is key to keeping the audience engaged. Dicks provides techniques for creating anticipation and curiosity in your stories.
- Connect with Emotion: Stories that evoke emotion are often the most memorable. The book discusses how to tap into and convey emotions effectively in your storytelling.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Storytelling is a skill that can be honed through practice. Dicks offers exercises and tips for improving your storytelling abilities.
- Feedback is Essential: Getting feedback from others is crucial for growth as a storyteller. Dicks suggests seeking feedback from trusted individuals and being open to constructive criticism.
- Overcoming Fear: The book addresses common fears and self-doubt associated with storytelling and provides strategies for overcoming these barriers.
- Storytelling in Various Contexts: Dicks explores how storytelling can be applied in different areas of life, including personal relationships, education, business, and public speaking.
- Teaching and Persuading Through Stories: The book delves into how storytelling can be used as a powerful tool for teaching, persuading, and conveying important messages effectively.
- The Impact of Storytelling: Dicks shares stories from his own life and experiences to illustrate the transformative power of storytelling and how it can change lives and influence others.
In essence, “Storyworthy” encourages readers to embrace storytelling as a means of communication, connection, and personal growth. It provides practical guidance and inspiration for individuals looking to become better storytellers and highlights the profound impact that well-crafted stories can have on both the storyteller and the audience.
Story Telling Framework
Part I: Finding Your Story
In “Part I: Finding Your Story,” Matthew Dicks lays the foundation for effective storytelling by guiding readers on how to unearth compelling narratives from their own lives. Here are the key concepts and examples:
- The Dinner Test: Dicks introduces the concept of the “Dinner Test” in Chapter 2, emphasizing that a good story should engage and captivate an audience, much like an interesting dinner conversation. For example, imagine you are at a gathering with friends, and you share a personal experience that keeps everyone at the table enthralled. The Dinner Test helps storytellers gauge the quality of their narratives and their ability to hold an audience’s attention.
- Homework for Life: Chapter 3 introduces the “Homework for Life” concept, encouraging readers to journal their daily experiences. The idea is to capture the mundane and extraordinary moments in life, as these can be potential sources of engaging stories. For instance, if you journal every day, you may discover that a seemingly ordinary encounter with a stranger on the subway actually contains a rich and relatable story.
- First Last Best Worst: Chapter 5 presents the “First Last Best Worst” exercise as a method for identifying significant life experiences. By reflecting on your first, last, best, and worst experiences, you can uncover valuable storytelling material. Consider the first time you traveled alone—a thrilling adventure, a scary experience, or a combination of both. This exercise can reveal stories that connect with universal human experiences.
Part II: Crafting Your Story
In “Part II: Crafting Your Story,” Dicks delves into the art of structuring and shaping narratives. Here are the key concepts and examples:
- Every Story Takes Only Five Seconds to Tell: Chapter 7 stresses the importance of a gripping opening. Dicks uses the example of a bicycle accident to illustrate how the first few seconds of a story can capture the audience’s attention. Think of the opening scene of a suspenseful movie that immediately draws you into the story, such as the iconic beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”
- Finding Your Beginning: Chapter 8 guides readers on how to find the perfect beginning for their stories. Dicks uses the movie “Jurassic Park” as an example of a strong opening scene that sets the tone for the entire narrative. Much like how the dinosaurs’ escape in the movie immediately grabs the audience’s attention, a well-crafted beginning in a personal story can hook your listeners.
- The Principle of But and Therefore: Chapter 12 introduces the principle of “But” and “Therefore” to maintain narrative momentum. Dicks uses the example of “Game of Thrones” to illustrate how obstacles and character actions create evolving plotlines. For instance, when a character faces a challenge (e.g., “But” a rival clan threatens their power), they must take action (e.g., “Therefore” they plot to eliminate the threat), driving the story forward.
Part III: Telling Your Story
In “Part III: Telling Your Story,” Dicks focuses on the art of presentation and delivery. Here are the key concepts and examples:
- The Present Tense Is King: Chapter 18 emphasizes the use of the present tense to immerse the audience in the story’s immediacy. Think of a gripping movie or book that uses the present tense to make you feel like you’re experiencing events in real-time.
- The Two Ways of Telling a Hero Story: Chapter 19 discusses two approaches to hero stories—self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing. Elon Musk’s storytelling about his entrepreneurial journey is a prime example of using humility and self-deprecation to connect with the audience, despite great success.
- Time to Perform: Chapter 22 underscores the importance of adapting storytelling to various contexts. Steve Jobs’ product launch presentations exemplify the power of storytelling in the boardroom, where he used narrative techniques to convey Apple’s vision and create excitement around new products.
Step 1: Finding Your Story
Part I of “Storyworthy” by Matthew Dicks, titled “Finding Your Story,” serves as the foundational stage for aspiring storytellers. In this section, Dicks explores key concepts and offers practical guidance on how to identify and uncover the stories that lie within our own lives. Let’s delve into each chapter of this section, using examples and case studies to illustrate the key learnings:
CHAPTER 1: My Promise to You
Dicks starts with a promise—to help readers discover and share their stories effectively. This chapter sets the tone for the book, emphasizing the transformative power of storytelling.
Example: Consider the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel laureate who shared her harrowing experience of advocating for girls’ education despite facing violence and oppression from the Taliban. Her story not only inspired millions but also brought global attention to the cause of female education.
CHAPTER 2: What Is a Story? (and What Is the Dinner Test?)
Dicks introduces the concept of the “Dinner Test,” emphasizing that a good story should engage and captivate your audience, just like a captivating dinner conversation.
Case Study: The success of TED Talks provides a perfect example. Speakers who effectively engage their audience with personal stories and relatable anecdotes often receive high praise and recognition. For instance, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story” uses storytelling to challenge stereotypes and promote understanding.
CHAPTER 3: Homework for Life
Homework for Life is a crucial concept in the book. Dicks encourages readers to journal their daily experiences and look for potential stories within these moments.
Case Study: Humans of New York (HONY) is an online platform that uses this principle effectively. Photographer Brandon Stanton started HONY by documenting the everyday lives of New Yorkers. By sharing personal stories and experiences, HONY has gained millions of followers and highlighted the beauty of ordinary lives.
CHAPTER 4: Dreaming at the End of Your Pen
Dicks emphasizes the value of dreams and the creativity they can unlock. He encourages readers to jot down their dreams and mine them for storytelling material.
Example: In the case of J.K. Rowling, her dreams played a significant role in the creation of the Harry Potter series. The idea for the series, including the character of Harry himself, came to her during a train journey while she daydreamed.
CHAPTER 5: First Last Best Worst: Great for Long Car Rides, First Dates, and Finding Stories
Dicks introduces the “First, Last, Best, Worst” exercise to help readers identify significant life experiences. This exercise prompts reflection on pivotal moments and their storytelling potential.
Case Study: In the movie “Forrest Gump,” the character Forrest shares his life story while sitting on a park bench. By recounting his firsts, lasts, bests, and worsts, he takes the audience on a journey through American history, demonstrating how these moments shaped his life.
In summary, Part I of “Storyworthy” lays the foundation for effective storytelling by teaching readers to recognize the stories hidden within their lives. Key concepts include the Dinner Test, Homework for Life, the value of dreams, and the First Last Best Worst exercise. These concepts are illustrated through examples such as Malala Yousafzai’s inspiring story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, Humans of New York, J.K. Rowling’s creative process, and Forrest Gump’s narrative journey. By mastering these concepts, aspiring storytellers can embark on a journey of self-discovery and narrative excellence.
Step 2: Crafting Your Story
“Part II: Crafting Your Story” in Matthew Dicks’ “Storyworthy” delves deeper into the art of storytelling, providing readers with invaluable insights on how to shape and structure their narratives effectively. This section explores key concepts and strategies for crafting compelling stories. Let’s explore each chapter, using examples and case studies to illustrate the essential learnings:
CHAPTER 6: “Charity Thief”
In this chapter, Dicks shares the story of the “Charity Thief” to exemplify the importance of a well-structured narrative. He emphasizes that every story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and should be delivered in a concise and engaging manner.
Case Study: Consider Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King begins with the vision of a better future, moves through the struggles of the present, and ends with a compelling vision for a more just society. This clear structure and emotional arc resonate with audiences to this day.
CHAPTER 7: Every Story Takes Only Five Seconds to Tell (and Jurassic Park Wasn’t a Movie about Dinosaurs)
Dicks introduces the concept that the first five seconds of a story are critical in grabbing the audience’s attention. He provides a case study about a story involving a bicycle accident to demonstrate the importance of a captivating opening.
Case Study: The opening scene of the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” directed by Steven Spielberg, is a prime example. It immerses viewers in the intensity of World War II through its gripping portrayal of the D-Day invasion. The film’s powerful start instantly hooks the audience.
CHAPTER 8: Finding Your Beginning (I’m Also About to Forever Ruin Most Movies and Many Books for You)
Dicks explains how to identify the perfect beginning for your story. He uses the example of the movie “Jurassic Park” to illustrate how a strong opening scene sets the tone for the entire story.
Example: The film “Jurassic Park” begins with a suspenseful and ominous introduction involving the transportation of a Velociraptor. This scene immediately piques the audience’s curiosity and sets up the central theme of the film—man’s hubris in attempting to control nature.
CHAPTER 9: Stakes: Five Ways to Keep Your Story Compelling (and Why There Are Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park)
This chapter delves into the concept of stakes and how they create tension and interest in a story. Dicks explains five ways to establish stakes effectively.
Case Study: The television series “Breaking Bad” centers around a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who turns to cooking and selling methamphetamine. The high stakes of Walter’s choices—his financial desperation, his terminal cancer diagnosis, and his increasingly dangerous actions—drive the intense and compelling narrative of the series.
CHAPTER 10: The Five Permissible Lies of True Storytelling
Dicks discusses the idea that storytelling allows for some embellishments or “permissible lies” to enhance the narrative without sacrificing truthfulness. He shares examples from his own stories, showcasing how these lies can be used to create engaging tales.
Example: In the classic tale of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” the young boy exaggerates the threat of the wolf to gain attention. While the story serves as a cautionary tale, it also exemplifies how embellishments can make a story more captivating.
CHAPTER 11: Cinema of the Mind (Also Known as ‘Where the Hell Are You?’)
Dicks introduces the concept of “Cinema of the Mind,” emphasizing the importance of providing vivid descriptions and details to help the audience visualize the story.
Case Study: The works of J.R.R. Tolkien, including “The Lord of the Rings” series, are known for their immersive world-building and detailed descriptions. Tolkien’s rich narrative style allows readers to vividly imagine the landscapes, characters, and creatures in his stories.
CHAPTER 12: The Principle of But and Therefore
Dicks explores the use of “But” and “Therefore” to connect story elements and maintain narrative momentum. He provides examples from the world of storytelling to illustrate how this principle works.
Example: In the television series “Game of Thrones,” the principle of “But” and “Therefore” is frequently employed. For instance, when characters face obstacles (e.g., “But” the Stark family faces betrayal), they must take action (e.g., “Therefore” they seek revenge or survival), leading to ever-evolving plotlines and engaging storytelling.
CHAPTER 13: “This Is Going to Suck”
Dicks discusses the importance of embracing vulnerability and challenging situations, as they often lead to the most memorable and relatable stories.
Case Study: In her book “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed recounts her journey of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone to heal from personal traumas. Strayed’s willingness to share her moments of fear, doubt, and struggle resonates with readers, making her story both moving and relatable.
CHAPTER 14: The Secret to the Big Story: Make It Little
Dicks advises storytellers to focus on small, personal details to make their stories relatable and emotionally resonant.
Example: In the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the story of racial injustice and moral growth is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch. By focusing on the small-scale events of Scout’s childhood, the novel addresses significant societal issues with a powerful and personal touch.
CHAPTER 15: There Is Only One Way to Make Someone Cry
Dicks explains that emotional resonance is a key element of storytelling. He uses personal stories, including one about his father, to illustrate how emotions can deeply impact the audience.
Case Study: The Pixar film “Up” is renowned for its emotional storytelling. The film’s opening montage, which traces the life of the main character, Carl, and his wife Ellie, is a prime example of how a story can evoke profound emotions in just a few minutes.
CHAPTER 16: Milk Cans and Baseballs, Babies and Blenders: Simple, Effective Ways to Be Funny in Storytelling (Even If You’re Not Funny at All)
Dicks provides strategies for incorporating humor into storytelling, even for those who may not consider themselves naturally funny.
Example: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routines often revolve around everyday observations and trivial matters. By finding humor in the mundane, Seinfeld creates relatable and humorous stories that resonate with audiences.
CHAPTER 17: Finding the Frayed Ending of Your Story (or, What the Hell Did That Mean?)
Dicks discusses the importance of a meaningful ending that leaves the audience with a takeaway message or a sense of closure.
Example: In the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, the story concludes with the poignant revelation that the sacrifices made by the main characters, Jim and Della, were for each other’s most treasured possessions. This twist ending leaves readers reflecting on the theme of selflessness and love.
In summary, “Part II: Crafting Your Story” of “Storyworthy” provides valuable insights and techniques for constructing compelling narratives. These chapters cover essential storytelling elements such as structure, openings, stakes, permissible embellishments, vivid descriptions, narrative momentum, vulnerability, emotional resonance, humor, and meaningful endings. Case studies and examples from various forms of storytelling, including literature, film, and personal anecdotes, illustrate how these concepts are applied in practice. By mastering these principles, storytellers can create
Step 3: Telling Your Story
“Part III: Telling Your Story” in Matthew Dicks’ “Storyworthy” delves into the art of storytelling presentation. This section explores key concepts and strategies for effectively conveying your story to an audience. Each chapter provides valuable insights into the nuances of storytelling. Let’s explore each chapter, using examples and case studies to illustrate the essential learnings:
CHAPTER 18: The Present Tense Is King (but the Queen Can Play a Role Too)
Dicks discusses the importance of using the present tense when telling a story to immerse the audience in the narrative’s immediacy.
Example: In the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, narrates his experiences in the first person and predominantly in the present tense. This narrative choice allows readers to experience the story as if it’s happening in real time, creating a strong sense of immediacy.
CHAPTER 19: The Two Ways of Telling a Hero Story (or, How to Avoid Sounding Like a Douchebag)
This chapter explores the two approaches to telling a hero story—self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing. Dicks advises storytellers to choose the former to connect with their audience.
Case Study: Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, often shares stories about his entrepreneurial journey. He combines humility and self-deprecation when discussing his early failures and challenges. By doing so, he connects with the audience and maintains relatability despite his extraordinary success.
CHAPTER 20: Storytelling Is Time Travel (If You Don’t Muck It Up)
Dicks introduces the concept that storytelling can transport the audience through time. He discusses how to navigate chronological shifts effectively.
Example: In the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” the narrative jumps between different moments in the relationship of the two main characters, Joel and Clementine. This non-linear storytelling approach allows the audience to experience their love story in a unique and emotionally resonant way.
CHAPTER 21: Words to Say, Words to Avoid
Dicks emphasizes the importance of word choice in storytelling, explaining how certain words can enhance or detract from the impact of a narrative.
Case Study: In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, his choice of words and phrases, such as “I have a dream” and “the content of their character,” not only conveyed his message effectively but also inspired a nation and shaped the civil rights movement.
CHAPTER 22: Time to Perform (Onstage, in the Boardroom, on a Date, or at the Thanksgiving Table)
This chapter discusses the significance of adapting your storytelling to various contexts, whether it’s onstage, in a professional setting, on a date, or during family gatherings.
Case Study: Steve Jobs was known for his captivating product launch presentations. He used storytelling techniques to introduce Apple’s innovative products to the world. His ability to convey the company’s vision and create excitement around new technologies was a key factor in Apple’s success.
CHAPTER 23: Why Did You Read This Book? To Become a Superhero!
Dicks concludes the section by reminding readers of the transformative power of storytelling. He highlights that stories have the potential to inspire and empower both storytellers and their audiences.
Example: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education, shares her story to inspire others and advocate for girls’ education. Her personal journey, from surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban to becoming a global advocate, exemplifies the superhero-like impact of storytelling.
In summary, “Part III: Telling Your Story” of “Storyworthy” provides invaluable guidance on presenting your story effectively to various audiences. Key concepts explored include the use of the present tense for immediacy, the choice between self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing hero stories, the power of chronological storytelling, the impact of word choice, adaptability to different contexts, and the transformative potential of storytelling. These concepts are illustrated through examples and case studies from literature, speeches, and real-life situations. By mastering these principles, storytellers can not only engage and captivate their audiences but also inspire and connect with them on a profound level.
If you’re interested in books similar to “Storyworthy” by Matthew Dicks, which focus on storytelling, communication, personal development and developing thinking frameworks, here are some recommendations:
- “The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story” by John D. Walsh – This book provides practical advice and techniques for crafting and delivering compelling stories.
- “Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds” by Carmine Gallo – Gallo analyzes TED Talks to uncover the secrets of effective communication and public speaking, including storytelling.
- “The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t” by Carmine Gallo – This book explores the power of storytelling in business and leadership, drawing on examples from successful individuals and organizations.
- “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – While not solely about storytelling, this book delves into the characteristics of memorable and impactful ideas, including the role of storytelling in making ideas stick.
- “Talk Like You: Short Stories for Learning English, Writing, and Speaking” by Matt Boyle – This book uses short stories as a tool for learning English and improving communication skills.
- “Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life” by Michael Port – Port’s book provides insights on how to deliver powerful presentations and performances, with a focus on storytelling.
- “The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively” by Helio Fred Garcia – This book offers guidance on effective communication in leadership and business, including the use of storytelling to connect with audiences.
- “Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Margot Leitman – Leitman provides a comprehensive guide to storytelling techniques for both personal and professional contexts.
- “Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols” by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez – This book explores the role of storytelling and visual communication in leading change within organizations.
- “The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling” by Annette Simmons – Simmons delves into the power of storytelling in various contexts, including leadership, marketing, and personal connections.
These books cover a range of topics related to storytelling, communication, and personal development, offering valuable insights and techniques to help you become a more effective and engaging storyteller.