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Storytelling Resources

In every great quest the hero setting out must, at some point or another, arm themselves with the knowledge and weapons needed to overcome the challenges ahead.

James Bond goes to visit Q. King Arthur and his Knights go to the armory. Neo loads the weapons program. And we, dear storytellers, read books to gain knowledge and use tools (like online software or digital publishing suites) to meet the challenges of client demands and personal development.

This page is a collection of the tools and resources I’ve found most useful in my own quest to understand the mystery of storytelling and how best to apply that knowledge to my professional life. I plan to update this page often; adding and subtracting as new tools/resources are discovered and make their way into this “must have” list.

Understanding Stories

Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers

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An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TV journalist Bill Moyers for their acclaimed PBS series.

–via Publisher’s Summary

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Joseph Campbell: Mythos the Complete Series

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Myth comes from the same zone as dream . . . from the great biological ground, whatever it may be. They are energies and they are matters of consciousness.

-Joseph Campbell

DURING THE FINAL YEARS OF HIS LIFE, Joseph Campbell embarked on a speaking tour in which he drew together all that he had learned about what he called the “one great story” of humanity. These remarkable talks were filmed and are presented here in the order and manner in which Campbell himself intended, with enhanced images and in minimally edited form. As seen on PBS.

–via Amazon

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

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Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars.

As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists—including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

–via Amazon

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The Morphology of the Folktale

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“Morphology will in all probability be regarded by future generations as one of the major theoretical breakthroughs in the field of folklore in the twentieth century.” — Alan Dundes “Propp’s work is seminal…[and], now that it is available in a new edition, should be even more valuable to folklorists who are directing their attention to the form of the folktale, especially to those structural characteristics which are common to many entries coming from even different cultures.”

— Choice (via Amazon)

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The Seven Basic Plots

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This remarkable and monumental book at last provides a comprehensive answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of ‘basic stories’ in the world. Using a wealth of examples, from ancient myths and folk tales via the plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, it shows that there are seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling. But this is only the prelude to an investigation into how and why we are ‘programmed’ to imagine stories in these ways, and how they relate to the inmost patterns of human psychology. Drawing on a vast array of examples, from Proust to detective stories, from the Marquis de Sade to E.T., Christopher Booker then leads us through the extraordinary changes in the nature of storytelling over the past 200 years, and why so many stories have ‘lost the plot’ by losing touch with their underlying archetypal purpose.Booker analyses why evolution has given us the need to tell stories and illustrates how storytelling has provided a uniquely revealing mirror to mankind’s psychological development over the past 5000 years.This seminal book opens up in an entirely new way our understanding of the real purpose storytelling plays in our lives, and will be a talking point for years to come.

–via Amazon

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Understanding Human Beings

He: Understanding the Masculine Psychology

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Robert A. Johnson, noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, updates his classic exploration of the meaning of being a man, and adds insight for both sexes into the feminine side of a man’s personality.

–via Amazon

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She: Understanding the Feminine Psychology

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A revised edition of a landmark work of psychology; the author uses the ancient myth of Amor and Psyche as the springboard for a brilliant, perceptive exploration of how one becomes a mature and complete woman.

–via Amazon

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The Heroine’s Journey

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This book describes contemporary woman’s search for wholeness in a society in which she has been defined according to masculine values. Drawing upon cultural myths and fairy tales, ancient symbols and goddesses, and the dreams of contemporary women, Murdock illustrates the need for—and the reality of—feminine values in Western culture today.

–via Amazon

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Man and His Symbols

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Illustrated throughout with revealing images, this is the first and only work in which the world-famous Swiss psychologist explains to the layperson his enormously influential theory of symbolism as revealed in dreams.

-via Amazon

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The Book of Symbols

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The Book of Symbols combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history. The highly readable texts and almost 800 beautiful full-color images come together in a unique way to convey hidden dimensions of meaning. Each of the c. 350 essays examines a given symbol’s psychic background, and how it evokes psychic processes and dynamics. Etymological roots, the play of opposites, paradox and shadow, the ways in which diverse cultures have engaged a symbolic image—all these factors are taken into consideration.

Authored by writers from the fields of psychology, religion, art, literature and comparative myth, the essays flow into each other in ways that mirror the psyche’s unexpected convergences. There are no pat definitions of the kind that tend to collapse a symbol; a still vital symbol remains partially unknown, compels our attention and unfolds in new meanings and manifestations over time. Rather than merely categorize, The Book of Symbols illuminates how to move from the visual experience of a symbolic image in art, religion, life, or dreams, to directly experiencing its personal and psychological resonance.

The Book of Symbols sets new standards for thoughtful exploration of symbols and their meanings, and will appeal to a wide range of readers: artists, designers, dreamers and dream interpreters, psychotherapists, self-helpers, gamers, comic book readers, religious and spiritual searchers, writers, students, and anyone curious about the power of archetypal images.

–via Amazon

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Modern Man in Search of a Soul

modern-man-searching-for-a-soul-jung

Considered by many to be one of the most important books in the field of psychology, Modern Man in Search of a Soul is a comprehensive introduction to the thought of Carl Gustav Jung. In this book, Jung examines some of the most contested and crucial areas in the field of analytical psychology, including dream analysis, the primitive unconscious, and the relationship between psychology and religion. Additionally, Jung looks at the differences between his theories and those of Sigmund Freud, providing a valuable basis for anyone interested in the fundamentals of psychoanalysis.

–via Amazon

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The Interpretation of Dreams

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THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS is a book by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The book introduces Freud’s theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation, and also first discusses what would later become the theory of the Oedipus complex. Dreams, in Freud’s view, are all forms of “wish fulfillment” — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort, whether something recent or something from the recesses of the past (later in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud would discuss dreams which do not appear to be wish-fulfillment). Because the information in the unconscious is in an unruly and often disturbing form, a “censor” in the preconscious will not allow it to pass unaltered into the conscious.

–via Amazon

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Personal Health & Excellence

Myths to Live By

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What is a properly functioning mythology and what are its functions? Can we use myths to help relieve our modern anxiety, or do they help foster it? In Myths to Live by, Joseph Campbell explores the enduring power of the universal myths that influence our lives daily and examines the myth-making process from the primitive past to the immediate present, retuning always to the source from which all mythology springs: the creative imagination.

Campbell stresses that the borders dividing the Earth have been shattered; that myths and religions have always followed the certain basic archetypes and are no longer exclusive to a single people, region, or religion. He shows how we must recognize their common denominators and allow this knowledge to be of use in fulfilling human potential everywhere.

–via Amazon

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Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation

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Joseph Campbell is one of this century’s great disseminators of the psychological wisdom of mythology. One of the basic functions of myth, he contends, is to help each individual through the journey of life, providing a travel guide to reach fulfillment — a map to discover “bliss”. In Pathways to Bliss, Campbell once again draws on his masterful gift of storytelling to apply the larger themes of world mythology to personal growth and transformation. Looking at the more personal, psychological side of myth, he begins to dwell on life’s more important questions – those that are often submerged beneath the frantic activity of our daily life. With characteristic wit and insight, he draws connections between ancient symbols and modern art, schizophrenia and the Hero’s Journey. Revealing the way myth helps identify ones heroic path.

–via Amazon

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The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

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A witty attack on the illusion that the self is a separate ego that confronts a universe of alien physical objects.

–via Amazon

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The Hero Within

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A modern classic of Jungian psychology, The Hero Within has helped hundreds of thousands of people enrich their lives by revealing how to tap the power of the archetypes that exist within. Drawing from literature, anthropology, and psychology, author Carol S. Pearson clearly defines six heroic archetypes—the Innocent, the Orphan, the Wanderer, the Warrior, the Altruist, and the Magician—and shows how we can use these powerful guides to discover our own hidden gifts, solve difficult problems, and transform our lives with rich sources of inner strength.

This book will speak deeply to the evolving hero in all of us and reverberate through every part of our lives. With poignant wisdom and prolific examples, it gives us enduring tools to help us develop our own innate heroic gifts—the Orphan’s resilience, the Wanderer’s independence, the Warrior’s courage, the Altruist’s compassion, the Innocent’s faith, and the Magician’s abiding power.

–via Amazon

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Awakening the Heroes Within

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In this bold and original work, Carol S. Pearson shows that the heroic quest isn’t just for certain people under special circumstances. Exploring the many heroic paths available to each of us, at every point in our lives, her innovative program enables us to live heroically by activating and applying twelve archetypes in our lives.

This companion to the best-selling ‘The Hero Within’ outlines twelve archetypal patterns that can aid inner development and the quest for wholeness.

–via Amazon

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The Power of Full Engagement

power-of-full-engagementFor 25 years, Loehr and Schwartz have conducted intensive training with professional athletes to help them perform at peak levels under intense competitive pressures. They are not involved in the physical training process, however. Their intervention focuses on effective management of our most precious resource, our energy. They have found to their surprise that the performance demands most people face in their everyday work environments are often tougher than those professional athletes face. Because athletes train constantly, they are more prepared, whereas most people are in the work game 8 to 12 hours a day with little or no training at all. Most of us are constantly trying to manage time; here, the authors have instead set out a prescription for managing energy on every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. You are likely to find some of yourself in one of the many case studies they provide to illustrate their techniques.

–David Siegfried via Booklist

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Making Ideas Happen

Making-Ideas-HappenAccording to productivity expert Scott Belsky, no one is born with the ability to drive creative projects to completion. Execution is a skill that must be developed by building your organizational habits and harnessing the support of your colleagues.

As the founder and CEO of Behance, a company on a mission to empower and organize the creative world, Belsky has studied the habits of especially productive individuals and teams across industries. Now he has compiled the principles and techniques they share, and presents a systematic approach to creative organization and productivity.

While many of us focus on generating and searching for great ideas, Belsky shows why it’s better to develop the capacity to make ideas happen-a capacity that endures over time.

–via Amazon

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How to Write Stories

The Writer’s Journey

Writers-Journey-Vogler

The Writer’s Journey explores the powerful relationship between mythology and storytelling in a clear, concise style that’s made it required reading for movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, scholars, and fans of pop culture all over the world. The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler’s ongoing work on mythology’s influence on stories, movies, and man himself.

–via Amazon

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The Art of Dramatic Writing

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Among the many “how-to” playwriting books that have appeared over the years, there have been few that attempt to analyze the mysteries of play construction. Lajos Egri’s classic, The Art of Dramatic Writing, does just that, with instruction that can be applied equally well to a short story, novel, or screenplay.

Examining a play from the inside out, Egri starts with the heart of any drama: its characters. All good dramatic writing hinges on people and their relationships, which serve to move the story forward and give it life, as well as an understanding of human motives–why people act the way that they do. Using examples from everything from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Egri shows how it is essential for the author to have a basic premise–a thesis, demonstrated in terms of human behavior–and to develop the dramatic conflict on the basis of that behavior.

Using Egri’s ABCs of premise, character, and conflict, The Art of Dramatic Writing is a direct, jargon-free approach to the problem of achieving truth in writing.

–via book jacket

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A Writer’s Guide to Characterization

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Develop compelling character arcs using the power of myth! In the best novels, characters undergo dramatic changes that keep readers turning pages. A Writer’s Guide to Characterization shows you how to develop such meaningful character arcs in your own work–stories of transformation that will resonate with readers long after the story ends.

In this comprehensive guide, author Victoria Lynn Schmidt examines cross-cultural archetypes to illustrate how they can make your work more powerful and compelling.

–via Amazon

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45 Master Characters

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Create unforgettable characters your readers will love! Want to make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before? 45 Master Characters is here to help you explore the most common male and female archetypes–the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate.

–via Amazon

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On-Writing-Stephen-King

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

–via Amazon

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How to Tell Brand Stories

Tribal Leadership

Tribal-LeadershipWithin each corporation are anywhere from a few to hundreds of separate tribes. In Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright demonstrate how these tribes develop—and show you how to assess them and lead them to maximize productivity and growth. A business management book like no other, Tribal Leadership is an essential tool to help managers and business leaders take better control of their organizations by utilizing the unique characteristics of the tribes that exist within.

–via Amazon

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The Hero and the Outlaw

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A brand’s meaning—how it resonates in the public heart and mind—is a company’s most valuable competitive advantage. Yet, few companies really know how brand meaning works, how to manage it, and how to use brand meaning strategically. Written by best-selling author Carol S. Pearson (The Hero Within) and branding guru Margaret Mark, this groundbreaking book provides the illusive and compelling answer.

–via Amazon

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StoryBranding

StoryBranding-Jim-Signorelli

Having worked on many famous brands as an advertising executive, Jim Signorelli has found that today, in order for advertising to be truly effective, the brand being promoted must work the way a good story works. Many brands continue to get in their own way with an over-reliance on editorialized benefits. ”Today, that’s a death-wish,” says Signorelli. ”To remain competitive, brands must provide consumers with story themes they can relate to, identify with, and share with their tribes.”

There are a number of books that discuss the parallels between stories and brands. But until this book was written, few, if any provide practical advice on how to apply story thinking to branding. Whether your brand is a product, service, or yourself, you’ll be taken through the 6 steps that every brand should take in order to find it’s oft-hidden story, the one that will make it most attractive to its audience. An easy, entertaining, and educational read, critics are saying this revolutionary book on branding is a must-read.

–via Amazon

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Lead with a Story

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Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum. The reason for this is simple: stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could. Whether you are trying to communicate a vision, sell an idea, or inspire commitment, storytelling is a powerful business tool that can mean the difference between mediocre results and phenomenal success. “Lead with a Story” contains both ready-to-use stories and how-to guidance for readers looking to craft their own. Designed for a wide variety of business challenges, the book shows how narrative can help: define culture and values; engender creativity and innovation; foster collaboration and build relationships; provide coaching and feedback; lead change; and more. Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for success. Complete with examples from companies like Kellogg’s, Merrill-Lynch, Procter & Gamble, National Car Rental, Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, and more, this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.

–via Amazon

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Winning the Story Wars

winning-the-story-warsThe story wars are all around us. They are the struggle to be heard in a world of media noise and clamor. Today, most brand messages and mass appeals for causes are drowned out before they even reach us. But a few consistently break through the din, using the only tool that has ever moved minds and changed behavior—great stories.

With insights from mythology, advertising history, evolutionary biology, and psychology, viral storyteller and advertising expert Jonah Sachs takes readers into a fascinating world of seemingly insurmountable challenges and enormous opportunity.

–via Amazon

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WordPress

WordPress

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbWordPress is a free open source software for building websites or blogs. It is by far the world’s leading content management system and it is the platform of choice for a whopping 18% of the web.

As a result, it’s easier to find WordPress help/tutorials/tools/resources/etc. for do-it-yourselfers and it’s also more likely that affordable professional help can be found when needed.

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WPEngine

WPEngineWhen I first set up my very own self-hosted WordPress site, I was looking for a good hosting deal. To me that meant cheap–as in the normal $4-$10 per month type of plan.

What I came to find out is that you get what you pay for. Which usually means a lot of site crashes, down time, and a creeping slowness to every site related task.

WPEngine is one of a handful of top-of-the-line, managed WordPress hosting services. Once again, for me anyways, it came down to asking this question: am I serious about this?

When the answer came back yes it was easy to make the choice to invest in myself and my future by purchasing the kind of hosting that would set me up for success.

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Genesis

studiopress-genesisI found out the hard way about the importance of using a quality WordPress framework. Genesis (and Canvas below) are in my opinion the best two options in the WordPress market right now. I use (or at least recommend them) for almost every single WordPress project I work on.

The Genesis framework by StudioPress is very lean and fast with a focus on SEO, speed, security, site “future-proofing” and flexible design options.

Child themes and a framework are the only way you should build your WordPress site…

–Matt Mullenweg, Founder of WordPress

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Canvas

woo-themes-canvas-resourcesCanvas is an advanced child theme that runs on the WooThemes framework. It’s highly customizable with little to no coding required.

I’ve used it for several blogging projects and it’s a great option for anyone who wants a theme that “just works” and allows them to get on with building their blog and/or business.

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