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Your Curmudgeon once knew a man who believed that "everyone has at least one book in him." It's possible he was correct...whether or not that's a good thing.

The problem is, not everyone knows how to tell a decent story.

The demise of the oral tradition, both in fiction and in social history, is part of that. Time was, everyone was expected to be able to tell a story properly. Of course, that included stories composed by others; not everyone can compose an original story.

Hot Flash to the Dubious: Yes, storytelling is a necessary skill. If you're in business at any level, whether as an office drone or a tradesman, you need to be able to tell a story -- granted, a non-fiction one, but a story nonetheless. That ability is critical to effective communication with your customer: i.e., whoever pays your salary or your invoices. Not because you need to deceive him, but because the correct sequencing of events, the correct delineation of causation, and the correct placement of emphasis, is vital to conveying a message of any sort. A plumber needs it quite as much as a CEO.

This little book is a compendium of essays on -- drumroll, please -- the principles of effective storytelling. They address fictional stories specifically, but the principles that apply there are portable to any other sort of narrative. They aren't many, and they're by no means obscure. But they are imperative. Rigorous adherence to them will, at the very least, preserve your reputation among your friends and companions. At best, they'll make you into the next Stephen King.

What's that you say? You don't want to be the next Stephen King? You'd rather be the next E. Annie Proulx or Dom DeLillo? Sorry, then this book is not for you.

Sorrier still, no refunds!

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