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19th April, 2019
In Defence of the Star Wars Sequel Films
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Rey

In January this year, I visited the London Comic-Con. This was a fun weekend of celebrity autographs, chatting to actors from movies I've watched since I was five years old, and spending a little too much on awesome memorabilia. To tell the raw, unvarnished truth the event was a little underwhelming since it actually seemed more like a larger version of the Cons I'd been to in northern England, rather than the professional, slick operations I watch videos of in North America. Lots of independent vendors, not a lot of official presence. Am I being too harsh? I expected more from a Con in our capital city.

But one thing stuck in my memory more than anything else. I got chatting with one of the vendors about the new Star Wars movies that Lucasfilm have released since their Disney takeover in 2012. As I handed over the £10 note for my Rogue One artwork book, I casually mentioned how much I loved the film's look, in contrast to the quality of its story. I don't hate Rogue One at all, it's very fun, but I thought it had a case of the jitters in the first 20 minutes or so, abruptly jumping from location to another just to keep the plot moving. The vendor agreed, and - I knew it was coming - couldn't help but express his hatred of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

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12th April, 2019
Untying Your Knots
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Knot

I have a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome. When I’m anxious, stressed, or generally in a less controlled state, I often twitch. My eyes, face, and throat all seize up, making it impossible to really behave properly. If you’ve watched one of my lectures or YouTube videos, this news might come as a surprise, but I’ve become pretty good at controlling these urges, out of a desire to not let such a disorder bully me into constantly keeping my eyes closed. Though I can’t say the same if you get a couple of pints in me!

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5th April, 2019
Jungian Psychology for Storytellers
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Carl Jung

When I began working on my book about storytelling, my goal was to identify how some stories were able to make me feel good, and why others fell completely flat instead.

This led to some truly fascinating insights from storytellers like Stephen King, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and many others. But I didn’t guess how much I would end up learning about psychology.

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29th March, 2019
Shazam! — Movie Review
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Shazam!

After Shazam! finished on Wednesday night, I looked left and right at the cinema-goers around me. Not a single person had stood up to leave the theatre.

I smiled to myself. We had all just watched a fun, action-filled, and emotionally-resonant film, and I inwardly beamed at how successfully we had all been conditioned by Marvel to expect a credits scene or two.

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22nd March, 2019
Creativity, Inc. — Lessons from Pixar’s President on Storytelling Success
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Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Last week I finished reading a book called Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, the former president of Pixar. This book had a big impact on me for a number of reasons, and I’d like to explore these in this post.

It’s unlikely you’re not already aware of Pixar’s films: Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Cars, the list goes on, and all of them have garnered numerous awards. Pixar have always been a creative powerhouse.

But what is their secret? How do they continue to churn out such high-quality films so consistently?

I think I have a good idea of the answer, but it’s nothing as simple as a single management hack or storytelling tip. It’s a combination of factors, but each one is perfectly attainable for any creative person or leader.

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15th March, 2019
Deconstructing My Top 5 Favourite Movies
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So I thought it would be fun to go through some of my favourite movies and explain why I like them so much from a storytelling perspective.

My goal is to extract key writing lessons from these movies which you can take away and use in your own projects. Plus I just generally find it fun to discuss movies and what makes them great!

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8th March, 2019
Captain Marvel — Movie Review
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Captain Marvel

I’m always excited for new Marvel releases, and I excitedly showed up for the midnight opening of Captain Marvel here in the UK. This is actually only the second midnight screening I’ve ever been to, the first one being Star Wars: The Last Jedi back in December 2017.

Captain Marvel tells the origin story for Carol Danvers, a pilot and soldier with mystical powers. Even she’s not sure where these powers came from—nor can she remember much about her past life. All she knows at the start of the movie is that she’s strong, fierce, and a capable soldier.

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1st March, 2019
Generating Story Structures for Fun and Profit
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Write Your Novel from the Middle

Hi guys! This post is from a past email from my storytelling newsletter. If you'd like to receive these as soon as they're written, sign up to my email list here.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing James Scott Bell for his newest book The Last Fifty Pages.

I’ve long been a fan of JSB’s. He’s written some of the best books available on the writing craft, and he has the publishing experience to back it up. He’s an award-winning novelist, so we can safely say he’s walked the walk.

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9th February, 2019
How to Read 109 Books in 10 Months — Techniques, Tips, and Resources
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How to Read More Books

By the end of this post, you will have the tools to become a voracious reader.

This is going to be a long post, and I ask you to be patient and read all the way through, because I believe that book-reading is the most beneficial exercise we can engage in.

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8th February, 2019
The Last Fifty Pages with James Scott Bell
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James Scott Bell

This week we have another great interview guest, a legend of the screenwriting craft. His next book, The Last Fifty Pages, is available for pre-order and will be available on 18th February.

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1st February, 2019
Wayfarer and the Writing Process with K.M. Weiland
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K.M. Weiland

In this week’s blog post I am excited to share an interview with one of my writing heroes, whose latest novel Wayfarer is now available on Amazon.

K.M. Weiland’s books on the writing craft are rightly regarded as must-reads for all kinds of novelists and storytellers, so I was excited to read her latest novel and share it with you all today.

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20th January, 2019
New Facebook Group: Bold Storytellers
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New Facebook Group: Bold Storytellers

Hey gang! Just letting you know that I'm in the process of creating a brand new Facebook group joined to my blog and email newsletter!

I'd really appreciate it if you could click to join in the link below.

I want to build this into a helpful community that primarily embraces new, authentic styles of fiction and non-fiction writing. If that sounds like something you'd like, then definitely come join!

Join the Bold Storytellers Facebook group.

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18th January, 2019
The Two Critical Skills for Mastering Your Craft
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Master craftsman at work

This week I just got done re-reading Mastery by Robert Greene for what’s probably the tenth time—I’ve lost count by this point. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is my all-time favourite book.

You see, despite some of the more objective successes I’ve had in the last couple of weeks like my first public talk for my book, I’ve slipped into a low mood due to some poor sleep habits. That, and having to handle a technical emergency at my 9-5 job and doing a full shift on a Saturday.

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11th January, 2019
My Talk on Research and Planning in Storytelling (Transcript)
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My talk at Nantwich Library in Nantwich, Cheshire

Hi guys! This post is from a past email from my storytelling newsletter. If you'd like to receive these as soon as they're written, sign up to my email list here.

Yesterday I gave a talk to an audience of local writers in Nantwich, Cheshire, with the topic “Research and Planning in Storytelling”. With it being my first public event about my book, I was nervous but also excited. Liam and the organising team were most helpful and the local writers were warm and welcoming, asking lots of great questions.

The most common questions asked in my talk were about book publishing itself. This surprised me, but it’s also logical. I spend so much time going over the structure of good stories and the human psychology that makes them resonate so strongly, that I forget that for a lot of writers, their confusion lies mostly in the actual nuts and bolts of actually getting the book out there.

So for this week’s edition of the newsletter, I thought I’d write down a kind of transcript of my answers to the broad topics most asked at my talk, so that all of my newsletter subscribers gain the benefit from the advice. This advice will give you a clearer picture of how you can get your story idea into people’s hands, and show you that it’s less confusing and murky than it might seem from the outside.

Enjoy!

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28th December, 2018
How to Achieve All Your Goals in 2019
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Aquaman

Hi guys! This post is from a past email from my storytelling newsletter. If you'd like to receive these as soon as they're written, sign up to my email list here.

Merry Christmas and happy winter holidays! We’re at the final weekly newsletter email for 2018. And what a year it has been! So many great books have been published, Kindle ebook sales are on the rise, as are indie brick-and-mortar book stores around the world. And for me, I wrote and published my very first non-fiction title, The 24 Laws of Storytelling.

This time of year, it’s natural to think ahead to what we can achieve in the coming year. 2019 indeed holds incredible potential for the writerverse. I’ve been told by inside sources that there are updates-a-plenty for the Kindle reading app for Android (hint: infinite scrolling!), and a lot of my writer friends have titles planned for release in 2019.

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22nd December, 2018
Aquaman: Light Tone, Loveable Characters, and Epic Crab King Death Scenes
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Aquaman

I watched Aquaman last Sunday and I really enjoyed it. I loved all the characters and James Wan has done a great job directing some great performances from the entire cast. The best way I can summarise Aquaman is: big, fun, and explosive. It definitely doesn't pull any punches. There are huge, screen-filling, epic war scenes between armies that are impressively helmed and remind me the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

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14th December, 2018
How Into the Spider-Verse Makes You Love Its Characters
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Into the Spider-Verse

On Sunday I went to an early preview screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ahead of its UK release on the 12th. In this story, New York teenager Miles Morales gets bitten by a radioactive spider and... I feel like you should know the story by now.

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8th December, 2018
5 Strategies for Focused Concentration
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Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast from 2017, where the host interviewed Robert Greene. Robert is a non-fiction writer famous for his books The 48 Laws of PowerMastery, and now The Laws of Human Nature. As a person in his late fifties and an experienced writer, the host asked Robert what advice he would give to new writers, or rather — where did he think most new writers trip up? Naturally, my ears prick up and I turn up my car’s stereo.

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7th December, 2018
What Marvel Can Teach You About Patience in Storytelling
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Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War

Today's been a busy day in the storyverse. Marvel dropped the first official trailer for Avengers 4. They revealed the title. Things happened. I squealed like a child. I'm not even ashamed—I loved Infinity War and can't wait to see how the story ends. I won't spoil any of it, but you need to go and watch it before reading the rest.

If you did check it out already, what did you think? Hit that 'reply' button and let me know.

I actually wrote quite a lot about the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 24 Laws, particularly the chapter on story series, which I titled "Series Are a Right, Not a Privilege". I praised the creators behind the MCU for so successfully building a franchise full of brilliant characters.

The question we beg the answer to is: How did they do this? What did they do right, that the DCEU has apparently failed to do in such a spectacular manner?

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18th November, 2018
Special Thanks and Acknowledgements for The 24 Laws of Storytelling
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Thank You

In my book The 24 Laws of Storytelling I listed thanks and acknowledgements for those who helped to make the book possible. Following the literary tradition, I also cited the primary sources I used in the book's Selected Bibliography section.

In this blog post, I would like to extend special thanks and acknowledgements to those who deserve credit for their part in helping me write the book. Let's begin!

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17th November, 2018
5 Writing Tips to Eliminate Clutter from Your Prose
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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Recently I finished reading the 30th anniversary edition of a book called On Writing Well by the legendary non-fiction writer William Zinsser.

This book kicked my ass.

In his signature punchy style, Zinsser explains why clutter is the #1 enemy for all writers, regardless of genre or medium.

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15th November, 2018
The 24 Laws of Storytelling Is Officially Released Today!
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The 24 Laws of Storytelling

My newest book The 24 Laws of Storytelling is officially released today. I’m extremely proud of this book and excited to share it with you.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE 24 LAWS OF STORYTELLING HERE

The 24 Laws of Storytelling is the culmination of a lifelong love of books, movies, and stories in every medium. Are you suffering from writer's block? Do you want to own a practical handbook with accessible storytelling advice? My book dives into historical examples of stories, both real and fictional, extracting the timeless lessons you can apply to your stories today.

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31st October, 2018
Introducing My Book: The 24 Laws of Storytelling
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The 24 Laws of Storytelling

Here’s something I’ve kept secret for a long time that I’m finally ready to announce.

For the last year, I’ve been writing a non-fiction book, and today I’m proud to reveal the cover of The 24 Laws of Storytelling.

In its 485 pages, you’ll learn why some movies and books work and others fail, and how you can apply those same principles in your own writing projects.

It’s going to be released on the 15th of November, and you can pre-order the Kindle edition now on Amazon using this link: http://geni.us/D5S8

Only five people have ever known about this personal project of mine since I started researching it in 2017, so it’s nice to finally let this loose on the world!

That’s it for now, short and sweet. I feel so relieved that I can now share this with you all. Now to write the next one.

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27th October, 2018
Storytelling and Fan Fiction with Mauricio Velazco (Browntable)
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Browntable Mauricio Velazco

Hey guys,

I’m really excited about this interview. I hyped it up a lot on my email newsletter because I have been excited to speak to Mauricio (@Browntable_Ent) of the YouTube channel Browntable (link). If you’re not familiar with Mauricio or Browntable, he is the creator of the amazing Zootopia fan-fiction series Return to Zootopia (episode 1 link).

This discussion is most useful if you’re planning to write fan-fiction for NaNoWriMo next week or just in general. This conversation will be perfect you to study, and I highly recommend checking out the Browntable channel.

I was one of the original “Patreons” of Mauricio’s Browntable channel, and I am proud to continue this. He is a great storyteller who I am sure will continue to tell great stories. In the future.

Without further ado, let me hand the mic over to Mauricio!

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5th October, 2018
Writing Advice from John McPhee
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John McPhee

Hi guys! This post is from a past email from my storytelling newsletter. If you'd like to receive these as soon as they're written, sign up to my email list here.

I wanted to start this week's storytelling newsletter with some writing advice from an amazing writer. John McPhee is/was a legendary writer for The New Yorker and I just got done re-reading Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process which is a book of his essays on non-fiction writing.

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10th September, 2018
14 Eternal Lessons on Ego and Leadership from Louis XIV of France
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Louis XIV

Louis XIV of France (1638–1715) earmarked his place in history as “The Sun King,” and certainly stands unique in the endless succession of world leaders. Few other kings or queens have enjoyed such a long reign (he became king at age 4 and sat on the throne for 72 years), and even fewer have left such an indelible mark on history.

Let's be frank: Louis was a notoriously egotistical asshole, and we have many examples of his often cruel indifference to back that up. But regardless of his personality, all of us can learn something from his 72 year reign — you don’t need to like the guy to learn from his achievements and mistakes.

Without further ado, let’s strip down the legend and look objectively at this remarkable king’s legacy.

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2nd September, 2018
[Update: WE WON!] AutoCrit is Storing Your Password in Plaintext
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Update Late October 2018

We won guys! They appear to have 'fixed' the security issue. I checked myself and the 'reset password' facility actually does what it says, and sends you a link in an email that sends you to a reset password page.

I only found out because I received a very angry/dishonest email from their support asking me to take down the PlainTextOffenders.com post, and heavily implied there never was an issue, which made me chuckle.

After this email, they proceeded to copy and paste their message as a response to all the places I posted about this. Only the very last one they made, on Reddit, acknowledged that there was an issue to be fixed.

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4th August, 2018
How to (Properly) Use Book Summaries
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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

There’s been a lot of buzz about book summary services lately.

Services like Blinkist do an excellent job at this. They take a classic non-fiction title like The Four-Hour Work Week, read it from cover-to-cover, distil it, distil it again, and out pops a summary in as many as 10 bitesize points, or ‘Blinks’.

People in a hurry feel like they lack the time to sit down and read a book. They barely get five minutes to themselves at home, how are they supposed to dedicate their undivided attention to words on a page for hours at a time?

Much has been written on burnout and the culture of overworking. It’s not uncommon knowledge that it’s unhealthy, and top companies are taking positive steps to keep their valuable staff happy and healthy at work.

Along comes a service like Blinkist offering thousands of non-fiction titles that can be digested in 10 minutes as opposed to the typical three hours of reading, and the overworked professional sees a no-brainer. “$60 a year to get as many books as I want? Hell yes.”

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8th July, 2018
9 Books on Storytelling You Absolutely Must Read
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Storytelling Book Recommendations

This post is a list of my favourite books on storytelling. The first few in the list are my top picks and highly recommended to all storytellers. There is also a list of honourable mentions that are worth checking out.

In each case, I have provided a convenient link to Amazon where you can instantly pick up the books and see for yourself how useful they are. Full disclosure: Some of them are affiliate links that help me to run my free storytelling newsletter for you.

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20th June, 2018
The Power of Dialogue: 4 Techniques to Supercharge Your Story
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People talking

“A dialogue is very important. It is a form of communication in which question and answer continue till a question is left without an answer. Thus the question is suspended between the two persons involved in this answer and question. It is like a bud with untouched blossoms... If the question is left totally untouched by thought, it then has its own answer because the questioner and answerer, as persons, have disappeared. This is a form of dialogue in which investigation reaches a certain point of intensity and depth, which then has a quality that thought can never reach.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

It’s no secret that directors like Quentin Tarantino are masters of dialogue in film. His tension-filled scenes have become the iconic examples of how to use dialogue in storytelling.

But how is he able to create such great dialogue? What are the steps we can take to recreate the work of this master?

In this post I hope to give you some tips on how to construct witty, entertaining dialogue that doesn’t bore and doesn’t rely on exposition.

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21st January, 2018
Pain, Regret, and Redemption: Why The Last Jedi Is the Best Entry in the Modern Star Wars Saga
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Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd

Obvious Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoilers follow. If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it.

The Last Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film in the modern saga, and twice as good as The Force Awakens.

It’s a film drenched in pain, regret, and shame, embodying a theme of redemption in the face of failure.

Is it perfect? No.

But I loved it from it start to finish, and it affected me deeply on an emotional level.

In fact, I think it will go down in history in the same regard as The Empire Strikes Back, a masterpiece with which it draws strong parallels.

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