Rating

9

Qualities

  • Applicable
  • Engaging
  • Insider's Take

Recommendation

Veteran screenwriter Samantha Shad finds that stories are fertile ground for working out problems because narrative is the essential language of the brain. She packs a lot into her short, readable two-part book – showing first how to “write to happiness,” and then giving the scientific reasons why storytelling works for your brain. By pairing a step-by-step guide on how to write  fictitious, therapeutic stories with a survey of neuroscience and storytelling conventions, Shad shows with great empathy that making up stories is how humans compose and understand their lives. The brain is geared for stories, so writing one – yes, now you can – is a powerful way to understand and resolve life’s dilemmas.

Summary

Writing a story is a personal journey. 

Each story you create is an experience of “writing to happiness.” A writer can find both personal answers and universal insights by plying the craft of storytelling. 

To begin, identify the “arena” or setting for your story. The story’s “nub” usually will be a subject that is bothering you. Conjure a main character with a goal, and imagine the obstacles he or she must overcome to achieve that goal. Then follow the basic rules of writing to happiness:

  1. “Follow the rules of storytelling” – Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, a hero and villain, helper characters, hardships the main character must beat, and a theme.
  2. “Stay focused” – Tell a simple story. Don’t let multiple characters and subplots distract you.
  3. “Make friends with your subconscious mind – The essence of your story is within you. Let the words emerge, and you will find it.
  4. “Finish the story with a real ending” – No sudden inventions, heroes or ...

About the Author

Former entertainment law attorney Samantha Shad has written more than 20 screenplays for major Hollywood studios, including Class Action. She is also the author of Write Through The Crisis: How To Make Good Use of Bad Times.


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