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The Magic of Story-telling p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give some samples from interesting out of print books.

Often they are much better than anything around today, for a number of reasons. Here is another sample from The Magic of Story-Telling by Clifford Warne. This 1971 book is more useful than hundreds of writing magazines and how to write books. The book was written for preachers and religious educators, to show how to teach lessons using a story. In a simple and clear way, he explains how to construct good stories. He takes the mystery and mystique out of it. There is no waffle: it’s all useful. Here are a couple of samples. See the September 2022 issue for more samples from this book. But an actual copy is well worth obtaining if possible. And at 68 pages, it takes up hardly any room on the shelf.

Mr Warne writes: The entertainment industry is mostly built on this fact: Watching someone face trouble fascinates people. This is why we like stories. For a story is what happens when a person has a problem and solves it.

A story must have a person with a problem; one main character who solves one main problem. Unless you have a person with a problem, what you write or tell might be a good joke, incident, character study, or description, but it isn’t a story. You can never break this basic rule without spoiling your story: use only one main character with one main problem. Any other characters or problems are there only if they have bearing upon the main character solving his problem. Let the main character solve his problem himself. Don’t bring in the United States Cavalry to save him at the last minute. Audiences rarely forgive that sort of thing. They want the main character to solve his problem through his own thought, strength, or ingenuity.

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