April 7, 2014

Talking Dogs and Good Storytelling

Talking Dogs and Good Storytelling

What Makes Good Storytelling

No matter the media, good storytelling requires good material. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, a movie, or a joke—the material has to be good. But even good material isn’t enough. Any comedian can tell you horror tales of jokes that fell flat or audiences that didn’t respond.

The same goes for a book. Your story might be great, with a complex plot full of unexpected twists, but if the other factors aren’t there and if the storytelling isn’t smooth, you won’t be receiving a lot of five-star reviews.

And for a joke to work, you not only have to have good material, but the cadence, timing, and punchline have to be perfect. The same applies to the storytelling in your novel. You have to be able to control the way the plot unfolds with flow, pacing, and dialogue, all leading up to the punchline climax.

our talking dogTo give you an example, let’s listen to a joke.


I don’t know about you, but that joke is one of my favorites. It starts out simple enough, but soon builds until you’re wondering what the big deal is about a guy buying a dog. And then, when it’s revealed, you really wonder where it’s leading. Until the end.

That’s the way I like my books, too. I don’t much care if they start out with a bang, as long as something interests me, and as long as each chapter continues to keep my interest. Good storytelling is like a drive along a long winding road—up and down, twists and curves. Think how boring it would be to drive a long, straight, flat road for five or six hours. Now imagine doing the same thing with a book. Reading page after page at the same pace, knowing what’s coming next.

Bottom Line

A great plot, even great characters, can’t propel your book to the top of the lists without a lot of help. Millions have tried and failed. Good storytelling is one of the only things I know of that can transform an ordinary novel into a bestseller almost by itself.

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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

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