Storytelling is About the Audience

Published June 22, 2014 by James Lyons

I recently came across this video on Ted Talks where literary agent Julian Friedmann discusses why it is so hard to find an agent and hence get work published. To sum up what he says in the video, most writers don’t tell good stories and most writers don’t understand what their audience is interested in reading. That is why his agency only accepts 6 writers from out of 6,000 submissions each year. Terrible odds considering that even if you get published, you still may not make enough money from it to write full-time. Sorry to be such a doom and gloom.

Having said that, I think there are ways to increase our odds. We just have to be more creative.

This is why I developed Weave My Tale. I didn’t want to be just another fish in the fish bowl, spending years of my life hoping that an agent or publisher would decide that my work is worthy of being published. I asked myself, “is there a way to increase my and other writers odds, to provide us with essential experience and a web presence that will improve our overall storytelling skills, greatly improving our chances of being published?”

Perhaps. Here are my ideas. Please tell me what you think.

First I believe that we need a platform where people are discussing and learning how to develop  good stories. This can be done through just rewrite after rewrite, with little reliance on structure, but why reinvent the wheel? From Aristotle and Socrates to Lajos Egri and Joseph Campbell, authors have been trying to help other authors structure their stories so they don’t leave out the “stuff” that will make their stories great. It’s not as easy as just reading about what these individuals say, but it is good place to start.

Second, I realized from my time in film school that story theory can only go so far, and that the most effective way to learn anything is to immerse oneself in the process. This is classic learning style, and the best way I can think to do this is to for everyone to actually contribute to several novels or scripts at once, from initial conception to the finished product–where everyone involved is teaching each other, sharing their literary strengths. It is the shared focus and sense of doing it together that makes it that much easier for our minds to gobble up. This is in our DNA after all.

And finally to Mr. Friedmann’s point about understanding what your audience wants, the most efficient way to understand what appeals to a broad range of writers and readers, representing all levels of story telling experience, is to get comments, critiques and creative ideas from everyone at each point in the story telling process. This creative part will be the hardest to achieve, because our modern-day society does not encourage the sharing of creativity. In fact what is so difficult about being a writer is that creativity is treated as a weakness until one reaches that higher level of success which so few of us do.

So in the spirit of trying things different, send an email to to sign up as a Story Host and lead other on-line readers through this “possibly” life-altering process.


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