9 best storytelling blogs to read.
We often think of creativity as mythical and mysterious—it’s no wonder that creative types are often portrayed as isolated and socially disconnected in films. Certainly, the image of the mad creative genius dominates popular consciousness.
But those of us who work in a creative field recognize that creativity relies as much on process and skill as imagination and magic.
Storytelling is, at its very core, a craft.
And storytellers have been sharing their techniques ever since our ancestors told the first story.
The craft of telling stories is a tradition as old as the human race. Oral storytellers have, for as long as we can imagine, learned stories from their elders and shared the tricks of the trade among their contemporaries.
The art of telling stories is, by its very nature, social, and the best stories arise from the conflict of our shared experiences.
With that in mind, it’s essential that we learn from others.
No matter the medium with which we work, we storytellers share a mission, and there’s much we can learn from those of other trades and backgrounds.
With the internet breaking down barriers between cultures and making more information instantly available, it is much easier for us to connect, collaborate and learn about the craft of storytelling from others. But the internet can also make things noisier—sometimes it’s hard to know where to look to be inspired and stay challenged.
Here are nine of our favorite blogs to bookmark that refresh our understanding of technique, inspire our creativity and expand our storytelling consciousness.
It's no surprise that Jonathan Gohttschall is first on our list—we're big fans. Gottschall is the author of The Storytelling Animal, and he teaches literature and evolution at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. This is not a blog in the traditional sense—instead, Gottschall uses his website to collect articles he has written about the science and art of storytelling. His book, The Storytelling Animal, tackles why we, as a species, are wired for stories. Each of his essays takes on this topic from a different angle. The result is a compelling and enlightening discussion about why we, as humans, are biologically programmed to respond to great stories.
Check out his post “The Holodeck is Real” where Gottschall explores why our brains process fictional events like they are real.
We may be a little biased, but Stillmotion's blog is a must-read for all filmmakers. The blog is dedicated to helping filmmakers put Story First. Learn tips and tricks from a multi-Emmy Award-winning production company who dedicate themselves to understanding and sharing the power of story. And free tutorials give readers actionable opportunities to improve their craft.
Check out the post “The Making of a Scripted Short—My Utopia,” the first in a series of posts where the Stillmotion crew break down their first narrative film.
If you’ve watched the cult-favorite film Adaptation or read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you’ll know the reputation Robert McKee has for his short temper. When he talks story, he means business. Famous for his classic Story—essentially a screenwriter’s bible—McKee also has some compelling content on his website’s blog about the craft of building narrative and effective screenwriting. While skimp on new content, there is a lot to dig through here and some excellent video interviews. McKee’s insight into conflict and character, while most useful for traditional screenwriters, will be insightful to storytellers of many backgrounds.
Check out the post “How Does Story Affect Life?” for an excellent video presentation by McKee discussing why story is essential to human motivation and decision making.
This might seem a bit mainstream or expected, but it’s hard to ignore this publishing platform. Medium shows how digital stories can be presented intelligently and beautifully. This is a constant fountain of meaningful content, and a well of great stories. What makes Medium so addictive is much of what made surfing the internet so much fun back in the day: it’s unexpected. Due to the mix of voices, you never know what you’ll find—the sense of discovery is enchanting.
Check out the trending posts on the sidebar of the home page. There is always something fresh to discover, no matter your interest.
This is an excellent blog made just for filmmakers by a very well known and respected filmmaker. Shane Hurlbut is a working Hollywood DP and cinematographer, and his blog provides readers a glimpse into a world so many dream of—filming big budget productions.
Check out this post, where Shane breaks down the lighting for Need for Speed.
Love or hate TED Talk’s punchy presentations, it’s hard to ignore their excellent collection of articles from experts on disparate topics. The best ones tap into storytelling technique and raise questions about important social issues. While not about filmmaking and not exclusively about storytelling, this is a go-to resource for fascinating content.
Check out this post where the founder of StoryCorp shares the ten most interesting stories of real people shared in 2014.
Like Medium or the TED Blog, this isn’t a website about filmmaking. Rather, it’s a curated selection of stories from around the world. Longform is a project from the University of Pittsburg's excellent English department, so the selection of writing is intelligent and thought-provoking. This is like the Twitter feed of a very intelligent friend with excellent taste—addicting, to say the least. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time there.
Check out their top posts of 2014 for an eye-opening collection of headlines and meaty stories from writers around the web.
Scott Myers is something of a screenwriting hero—he has written for every major Hollywood studio and broadcast network. As a screenwriting professor at the University of North Carolina, this blog certainly targets those who want to write for the screen with loads of insightful how-to guides and helpful articles. But there is something challenging about his creative process for readers who don’t share his trade. He’s inspiring and motivational, and that’s what makes this a worthwhile read.
Check out Myers’ cool scene-by-scene breakdown of an entire script to learn more about his creative process and how he teaches tricks of the screenwriting trade.
Okay, this isn’t technically a blog. It’s not even about filmmaking. Instead, Song Exploder is a podcast features interviews with songwriters tearing apart their songs and telling the stories of how they were made. We first witnessed the podcast live, at XOXO Festival, where the creator of Song Exploder did a live version with The Thermals for “No Culture Icons.” It was at that point, in seeing it live, that the magic of this podcast really hit us: Getting to hear the inner working of the creative process, a process that’s so often guarded, is truly inspiring.
Check out episode 25 where The National tell the story of a song off their latest album.
What are your favorite storytelling blogs?
These blogs, while not all about filmmaking, inspire and challenge us. What blogs do you read to expand your creative consciousness and improve your filmmaking technique?