Book Love

The 10 Principles of Storytelling

Do Story is a book by Bobette Buster that teaches the art of telling powerful stories. By including short stories on a variety of subjects and unpacking what makes them great, the book demonstrates a range of effective narrative techniques. Vivid, enlightening, and brimming with practical tips, Do Story unlocks the secrets to becoming a captivating storyteller.

Read on for the basic principles to a successful story!


1. Tell your story as if you’re telling it to a friend.

This applies no matter where you are or who your audience is.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

2. Set the GPS.

Give the place, time, setting, and any relevant context. Keep it factual, short, and sweet.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

3. Action!

Use active verbs or, as I like to say, “Think Hemingway”: spice up your verb choices but keep them succinct. Invest in a thesaurus (or a free app). Avoid multisyllabic, erudite, four-dollar words, overintellectualizing, philosophizing, qualifying. See how many I just used? It’s boring to keep reading them, isn’t it?

Do Story by Bobette Buster

4. Juxtapose.

Take two ideas, images, or thoughts and place them together. Let them collide. Remember German philosopher Friedrich Hegel here: that in posing two opposing ideas, a whole new idea is created (thesis + antithesis = synthesis). This tool wakes up your audience, and is the root of all successful stories.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

5. Gleaming detail.

Choose one ordinary moment or object that becomes a “gleaming detail,” something that best captures and embodies the essence of the story. Make the ordinary extraordinary.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

6. “Hand over the Spark”

Reflect on the experience or idea that originally captivated you, and simply hand it to your audience as if it were aflame. Carry the fire.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

7. Be vulnerable.

Dare to share the emotion of your story. Be unafraid to ask your audience what you questioned along the way so they share your doubt, confusion, anger, sorrow, insight, glee, delight, joy, epiphany.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

8. Tune in to your sense memory.

Choose the strongest of the five senses in your story and use it to make a deeper connection with your audience. There is always one primary sense that dominates every memory.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

9. Bring yourself.

A story is as much about you as anything else.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

10. Let go.

Hand over your story, letting it build to its natural, emotional punchline, and then end it and get out fast. Leave the audience wanting more. Less is more.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

– – –

Dive into each of these principles in Do Story by Bobette Buster, available here.

Do Story by Bobette Buster

Jenna Homen

Content and Community Manager at Chronicle Books. When she's logged off, she can be found painting, cooking, camping, or petting her dog Harley. You can follow her on Twitter at @jn_na.
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  • Kathleen Condit May 11, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful summary on Storytelling. The Gleaming Detail just solved the problem of figuring out the best title for my picture book text. I’m so happy I will order Do Story soon.

    The artwork is fun, especially the onion.


  • Essie Hughey August 5, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    I need help in trying to published my book!


  • karen steele September 22, 2018 at 4:29 am

    Is Do/Story a book and is it possible to buy it please. Thank you


    • Jenna Homen September 24, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Yes it is! I see you are based in the UK, so you can find it at your local indie bookstore or on your preferred online book retailer!


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