99 Ways to Tell a Story

By Adrienne Farr

99 Ways to Tell a Story
Aside from my job at Reader’s Digest, I’m taking a class in Narrative Theory and Screenwriting. One of the books that’s required reading is 99 Ways To Tell A Story by Matt Madden. When I first opened it, I was intrigued; instead of how-to text, Madden uses comic-book style illustration to help push writers beyond their creative boundaries.

Madden starts with one story: A man, sitting at a computer, gets up for something from the fridge. Someone asks what time it is. The man answers, continues to fridge but forgets what he wanted. End scene.

From there, Madden tells the same story 99 other ways: Monologue (a passive recounting of the story), Subjective (viewing only what the man sees), Furry (if the man was a skunk), as a Public Service Announcement (“Oh, Julio, I think you just found it!”), and so on. Each is more fantastic than the next.

Even if you’re not a writer (or planning to be), this easy read is a key tool for challenging creativity.

Image Courtesy: Matt Madden

99 Ways to Tell a Story

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