5 ideas to become a better storyteller

It took me 2.5 years to become a decent storyteller (this would've sped up the process)

“Hey this is pretty good, but you have no author presence…”

It took me 2.5 years to become a decent storyteller.

That's how long it took to write my first fiction book. But one of the first literary agents I sent it to said, "Hey this is pretty good, but you have no author presence."

That note stuck with me. It hurt. 55 more rejections later, I decided to change that.

I posted into the void on Twitter for months. Finally broke through. Built a ghostwriting business. It became a full-stack text-based marketing agency. Now grateful to be writing this newsletter. And, in a full circle way, getting back to my roots — fiction writing (first short story up here).

But something still surprises me.

The time spent writing that first book, that book that'll never be read by another soul, made me a better writer and storyteller than anything else I've ever done.

Without it, no chance I get to do what I'm doing now.

So, if I could tell you anything about storytelling, it'd be this:

1. Storytelling is a skill. Not some voodoo magic. And you can get good at it.

2. Storytelling is a skill that transfers. Writing on the internet, pitching clients, pitching new employees, crafting the perfect campaign, asking for a raise. Story, all the way down.

Storytelling is a multiplier for your ideas.

3. There are 5 skills that make up tactical, purpose-driven storytelling.

  • Filtering ideas

  • Structuring stories

  • Drafting fast

  • Editing slow

  • Building narratives

If you can do those 5, you can craft a darn good story. And do it again, and again, and again.

4. Emotion is the goal.

To do something, your audience has to feel something.

5. You have to intentionally practice.

Some people are born great storytellers. Most people aren't. I wasn't.

Put in the reps.

And, if you want to drastically accelerate your storytelling learning curve, I’d be honored if you check out Storytelling: Zero to One.

This is not for writing fiction. But it incorporates many of those ideas. It’s for tactical, purpose-driven storytelling.

Some storytellers don’t have a system. Because they don’t need one — they’ve put years and years into the craft and can now do it on command. But for every one that made it, 100s quit on the skill before they saw the benefits. And that’s a shame.

That’s why I built Storytelling: Zero to One on the 5 skills outlined in #3 above. Instead of some vague idea, it becomes a skill you can practice, repeat, and master.

Stay creative,


PS: SZO disappears on Sunday night so I can make sure the first users have an awesome experience. It won’t be available again for awhile.

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