Stories are powerful, and have a way of drawing readers into the narrative by engaging their passions or stirring up emotions. Stories can make readers laugh or cry, be happy or sad, or be intrigued enough to keep reading. Good stories can sell, engage, or lead the reader to take action.

Because of the power and ability of stories to engage or influence readers, the art of using stories in copywriting is a critical skill for copywriters.

But for maximum effectiveness, stories need to be told the right way. There are many subtle techniques to the art of storytelling that can make a big difference in results. Mastering these techniques greatly improves the response rates and quality of the copywriter’s copy. When done right, people just can’t stop reading, and they will remember both the message and the story.

Practically every person, brand, or event of any significance has a good story behind it. For example, do you know the story behind the Clif Bar? How about the story behind Saddleback Leather, or the poignant, compelling story about his faithful companion, Blue? What about the story that made Subway and Jared famous (PDF version)?

The art of finding and telling the story is one of the most powerful skills that any copywriter can offer. The books below can help you to become a stronger, more compelling copywriter by learning how to develop and use stories effectively.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
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Description: Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others–struggle to make their ideas “stick.”

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”

In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony–draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

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Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies
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Description: Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions–how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.” With examples from bestsellers as well as from students’ drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called “triage” method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.
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Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
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Description: Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.

In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the “magic” of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.

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Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story
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Like Stephen Krashen’s important work in The Power of Reading, Story Proof collects and analyzes the research that validates the importance of story, story reading, and storytelling to the brain development and education of children and adults. Accomplished researcher and storyteller Kendall Haven, establishes the need for understanding the research findings in neural psychology and brain development and the value of a common definition of story if one is to fully grasp the importance and necessity of story to the development of the human mind. To support his case, he reviews a wealth of research from storytellers, teachers, and others who have experienced the power of story firsthand.

The author has collected anecdotal experiences from over 100 performing storytellers and from 1,800 story practitioners (mostly teachers) who have made extensive use of stories. He has read more than 150 qualitative and quantitative research studies that discuss the effectiveness of stories and/or storytelling for one or more specific applications (education, organizational management, knowledge management, medical and narrative therapy, etc.). Forty of these studies were literature reviews and comparative studies including analysis of over 1,000 studies and descriptive articles. He has also gathered research evidence from his own story performances for total audiences of over 4 million and from conducting story writing workshops with 200,000 students and 40,000 teachers.

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Storytelling: Branding in Practice
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Must-read for managers on a powerful branding tool of the future.

Up-to-date cases from the business world, plenty of illustrations and easy-to-use tools.

Recommended by managers of top international firms.

Covers both the internal and external benefits of storytelling for a business company.

Danish version sold more than 2000 copies.

 

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The Art of Dramatic Writing
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Description: “For many years, Lajos Egri’s highly opinionated but very enjoyable The Art of Dramatic Writing has been a well-guarded secret of playwrights, scriptwriters, and writers for television. Unlike many other books on playwrighting (several of which Egri criticizes during the course of this one), the author’s systematic breakdown of the essentials for creating successful realistic plays and screenplays effectively demystifies the process of creative writing.” –John Longenbaugh
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The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition)
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The new material for this revised edition offers an expanded case study of storytelling in action that focuses on one of Simmons’s success stories. Over one hundred stories drawn from the front lines of business and government, as well as myths, fables, and parables from around the world, illustrate how story can be used to persuade, motivate, and inspire in ways that cold facts, bullet points, and directives can’t. These stories, combined with practical storytelling techniques show anyone how to become a more effective communicator. From “who I am” to “I-know-what-you’re thinking,” Simmons identifies the six stories you need to know how to tell and demonstrates how they can be applied. This revised edition offers a guide to using storytelling in specific business circumstances, including corporate reorganizations, layoffs, and diversity issues.

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