Storytelling: Free eBook – “How To Make People Care About Anything”

MikeachimWriting25 Comments

Update: go here for my more recent 10-part series on storytelling for beginners.

Storytelling. It’s not just for fun. It underpins everything. And I have a lot to say on this topic.

So I put it all into an ebook.

Click here to download “Storytelling or How To Make People Care About Anything 

(PDF, 6.5mb)

Problems opening when saved to desktop? Click here for the less pretty but smaller & more offline-friendly version

In an ideal world, you’d look like this as you read it.

If that doesn’t happen, at least you’ve not lost any money – because this book is 100% free.

You can do pretty much anything you like with it – share it, host it, discuss it, comprehensively rubbish it Oatmeal-style in a public place – it’s your choice.

It’s designed to get people thinking (which is why I’d much appreciate you passing it around). Thinking about what? About storytelling not just as something that naturally arises from “good writing”, and definitely not as a fun but unnecessary luxury for any creative and/or business endeavour – but as the bedrock of everything we do. Our brains are made of stories, and we’re completely helpless in the face of a good one…

I love this field of study, and I hope that if you read this booklet, you’ll start to feel the same way.

Thanks for your time.

– Mike


Further reading


Images: Boulder’s Natural Animal + Hospital; lrargerich.

  • Hilary Ward

    Hi Mike, It would have been nice to be a listener during your speech but since I couldn’t be there I would like to thank you for sharing your ebook with all of us who couldn’t attend.

    FYI – Following your suggestion from a previous post I picked up a copy of Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks and am enjoying it very much.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Mikeachim

      It’s been a few months so I’m presuming you’ve finished it…

      Quite a final line of the book, isn’t it? :)

  • cj

    I am looking forward to reading your ebook, partly because I enjoy practically everything you write, but also because I agree deeplywith the basic premise. Stories are fundamental. I had a conversation last night with Dear Husband on this very topic. He can take stories or leave them. He reads maybe 3 books a year, a few minutes at a time each night before falling asleep and letting the book thud to the floor with a noise fit to wake the dead. But that’s a whole other grizzle.
    The love of his life, without which he really cannot function as a whole human being, is music. Some pleasant tune or other caught his imagination last night and he turned to me and said that music is fundamental to human life, isn’t it? I’d agree, up to a point. There’s a lot of music that I love, but if I were cast away on the desert island of radio 4 fame, you could frankly keep the discs so long as I could replace them with books.
    I said yes, and so are stories. He looked doubtful. He opined that stories were developed so that history could be passed down orally. I agreed that was part of it, but that stories are so much more than that, and the way he feels about music is how I feel about stories. If I don’t get my quota of them during a day I feel bereft. Derive me of them for a few days and I seriously believe that you are jeopardising my mental well-being. He continued to look doubtful, but sensing a prolonged conversation in the offing (something that he tends to avoid), subsided.
    I hope your speech went well – I’m sure it did.

    • Mikeachim

      Thanks, cj. Interesting points raised. I know a few friends who never flick through fiction for fun (too many Fs in that sentence, Mike) but they play computer games and watch TV instead, so I figure that’s the way they get their stories. Is music similar? I think it can be. Music is the other great oral tradition of communicating culture down the ages, and it often has storytelling embedded in and around it…but it’s also, you know, *music*. So I think there’s overlap with music and storytelling. If you like one, you have an ear for the other (eg. admiring the lyrical flow of a passage of writing can’t be that dissimilar to appreciating music, surely).

      One interesting point brought up in Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal”, the book I found most useful when putting together this booklet, was about stories and music. He noted that a lot of people say poetry is, in a mass appeal sense, dead. People do not consume poetry in large numbers anymore, goes the argument. An obsolete art form..

      Except that’s not entirely true. Poetry has hundreds of millions of fans worldwide, and it’s on the radio and on TV every day. It’s just not called poetry – it’s called rap. For some people, equating their favourite collection of Milton’s works with Eminem’s latest album is going to raise a few eyebrows…but modern rap probably evolved from West African storyteller-musicianship, ie. a form of bard called a Griot). Suddenly it’s not such a stretch…

  • Hello Mike. Thanks for creating this ebook, I’m very interested in storytelling as relative to photography and business as well. I also wanted to let you know that I ended up downloading the smaller offline version because the larger .pdf file looks like it has been corrupted. Maybe it is because I’m on a mac, though I’ve not had problems with .pdf files before. Thanks again.

    • Mikeachim

      Yep – the original form doesn’t work with offline Mac & iOS, sadly, which is why I had to make the less pretty but more compatible version (the second link in the post). Apologies for the trouble you had with it!

  • Downloading now!

  • ro

    Thanks for the ebook and for your generosity! Writing from sunny Bondi Beach. It is the best in the winter not the summer so drop in next time!

  • Thanks for putting this together!

  • This was a wonderful read Mike! Congrats on the launch, it is so evident that you put in your time and resource into building out an information source that clearly evidences your love of storytelling. Good work sir! :)

  • I had to respond to Cj’s comments. I love music and I love a good story. I’m neither a professional musician nor a professional writer, but I do maintain a blog. To choose between music or a story would be a cruel fate indeed. I prefer not to.

  • p.s. I am working on a mac as well and I also had problems with the .pdf version. I can see the images but that’s about it.

  • To Penny’s comment, I, too, had issues viewing it in Preview. (Lots of weird, smeary pixels.) But in Adobe Reader, it’s beautiful!

    Not sure why. A PDF is a PDF. Or so I thought. But just an FYI.

    Can’t wait to read it! (Now that I can!)

  • Hey congratulations! I am definitely putting this one on my to-read this.

  • Rich P

    You’re going to love this…

    I just got interviewed for Seoul National University’s magazine about what I’m doing studying in Korea and why I became an archaeologist, and I told the reporter that one of the reasons I was so into archaeology was because “I love it as a form of story-telling”.

    Thanks Mike, you might just have ruined my career as a ‘serious academic’ ;)

    • Mikeachim

      It has taken 10 years, from its inception in a filthy trench at Quoygrew, because I was annoyed at you because you were taking too damn long to brew the tea and I was sick of drawing and I was frustrated because my section line wasn’t straight and it was starting to rain, and at that moment, I vowed I would ruin you, however long it took.

      It’s been 10 long years of avoiding doing reputable work just so I could write in this blog and fool you into thinking that was I was doing was apparently sensible. 10 long years. But now my time in the wilderness is almost over, I’ve filled your head with all sorts of career-scuppering nonsense, you’re a ticking time-bomb of self-destructive pretentiousness, and I can at last lay down my blog and go and get a career in the financial sector.

      You’re welcome, Rich.

  • Thanks for the great resource!

  • Pingback: updating the blog, part 2 (or: blogs! more blogs! and still more blogs!) « cresting the words()

  • Just finished reading this. Great book Mike and now really gutted I missed your talk at TBU. Damn meetings. Thanks for putting it together.

  • We have semi-working, almost-strong-enough, free wifi at the moment: fingers crossed for a successful download. ;) Thanks, Mike.

  • Hi! First, congratulations on this awesome book you just released… And thank you for sharing it to the world for free. By the way I’ve added you on my favorite links:)

  • Downloading! Ahora! Gracias! :)

  • Great resource Mike.
    And loved all the pointers and references –
    Now to apply the knowledge –
    Hope you’re right that you can learn to become a storyteller ;)

  • Mikeachim

    Huge thanks for all your kind words, everyone. :)

    If you enjoyed thinking about this stuff, there’s much more on the way…

  • Pingback: “Storytelling – or How To Make People Care About Anything” « Mike Sowden()