Are You a Story Crafter or a Storyteller?

WordServe Water Cooler

Are You a Story Crafter or StorytellerIn many ways, the world of book publishing parallels that of musical performance. Both are beautiful, exhilarating, and demanding. And both can sap creativity. Where the ultimate product is art, inevitable conflicts between the needs of business and creative expression exert themselves. When it comes to breaking in those with technical brilliance have an advantage, but to rise to the top, something else is needed.

I once represented my college as the soprano member of a vocal quartet in an honors choir made up of students from colleges throughout the western United States. We prepared on our own, and then met for three long days of intense rehearsal. Yes, there was glitz and glory in our single performance, but it wasn’t that I remember most about the experience but something that happened during one of the rehearsals.

I don’t even remember which musical passage we were struggling with at the…

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Creating Plots

WordServe Water Cooler

I recently attended an intensive writing retreat given by Steven James and Robert Dugoni.

Happy PeopleHere are some of the highlights from the session on creating plots.

One way to look at plot is to ask: What’s a story? It’s the protagonist’s journey. There has to be movement on some level—we don’t want to confine the character. The journey can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Or all three. As long as we keep the protagonist moving.

What motivates the character to start the journey? The motivation can be simple: love, justice, hate, revenge, power, greed, fear, or adventure.

Here’s a five-question exercise for brainstorming a story, given by Robert Dugoni:

  • Who is my protagonist?
  • What is my protagonist? (accountant, police detective, stayquestion marks man in circle-at-home mom, lawyer, etc.)
  • Where is my protagonist? The setting for the story.
  • What does my protagonist want?
  • What stands in the way of achieving it?

Also, when you’ve…

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The immortality bias: Further reading on the 4 stories we tell ourselves about death

TED Blog

We each live in the shadow of a personal apocalypse: the knowledge that — someday, somehow — we will die. It’s a terrifying thought, and so we look for a way out. In my talk from TEDxBratislava (and in my book Immortality)[ted_talkteaser id=1891], I walk through four stories that people have told throughout cultures and time, as a way to manage this very real fear. Here, some of the myths, books, movies and articles where you can see each of these stories reflected. I’ll end with a fifth story — I call it the “wisdom narrative” — an alternative to these oft-repeated tales.

1. The Elixir story

Almost every known culture has legends of a magic pill or potion that can ward off ageing and disease. Alchemists in both East and West, for example, believed they could brew an elixir of life, while the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León believed…

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The 20 most popular TED Talks, as of this moment

I’ve seen most of these videos, and found some of them (like Sir Ken Robinson’s, which was my introduction to TED talks), to be absolutely brilliant!

TED Blog

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UPDATED: To see all these talks at one click, check out our updated Playlist: The 20 Most Popular Talks of All Time.

As 2013 draws to a close, TED is deeply humbled to have posted 1600+ talks, each representing an idea worth spreading. So which ideas have had the most widespread impact? Below, a look at the 20 most-watched talks as of December 2013. These viewership numbers include all the platforms we track: TED.com, YouTube, iTunes, embed and download, Hulu and more.

Some fascinating things to notice on this list, if you’d like to compare and contrast it to the most popular talks in 2012, and to the list we shared back in 2011: Amy Cuddy, Susan Cain, David Blaine and Pamela Meyer are all newcomers to the list, with Cuddy’s talk storming to spot #5 thanks to you sharing it. Meanwhile, Brene Brown’s talk has…

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The Ultimate 28 Step Cheat Sheet To Self-Publish Your Best Seller

Thought Catalog

I know you have a book in you and you are ready to get it out. I know that not because I am psychic but because you are reading this. I know I have one too (I am working on my second). This is a wonderful time for the both of us!

I will take full credit right now: James’s latest book, “Choose Yourself” would have been a disaster and a flop if not for me.

DO NOT EVEN QUESTION ME IF YOU ARE READING THIS, JAMES.

Let me tell you James’ story.

November 2012: I notice that James has just sent an email to a consultant we use that said: “Please upload this to Amazon when you can.” A book called The Choose Yourself Era was attached. That’s it. One line. One attachment.

Thank God he cc-ed me!

I open the attachment and see the very first draft…

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