From Kate’s Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice, and/or creativity.
Brian McDonald is the first author to have two Masterclasses in a row. His thoughts on storytelling and writing are just that good.
His first book, Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories That Resonate was the Masterclass on 6/26/16. If you truly take in what McDonald reveals, your writing will take on new dimensions.
In The Golden Theme: How to Make Your Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator, McDonald states: This simple sentence, we are all the same, is the Golden Theme that all stories express. (page 4)
Why this book is a Masterclass:
Young or inexperienced artist [are told] to find their style, their voice…[not to] “Learn the craft of storytelling.” (page 75)
Telling an artist to express himself or herself only produces self-indulgent, mediocre art. (page 76)
Your job as a storyteller is to tell the truth—the deep truth—the truth as you see it. If you do this even while not trying to have a style, you will have one. (page 77)
…if you…express the Golden Theme as purely as you can…you will reach people—move them. And when people comment on your style, you will have no idea what they are talking about because your work will penetrate so much further below the surface that style will become unimportant to you. (page 77)
McDonald also shares the importance of storytelling.
“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel.
But there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
Ursula K. LeGuin (page 11)
…buried within the story is survival information. And this survival information is, I believe, the reason we tell stories. (page 13)
The stories McDonald repeats may or already have saved lives. For example, he reveals how “hanger flying” stories helped Sully Sullivan land his inoperable plane safely in the Hudson River saving hundreds of lives. (pp. 16-17)
The knowledge that others have had the same woes can change lives. In…Alcoholics Anonymous, people do little more than share stories, and yet they have a substantial recovery rate. (page 40)
…We human beings are always looking for connections. This is why it is so important to understand the Golden Theme. (page 41)
One of my favorite stories tells what happened at meals on the set of Planet of the Apes in 1968 on pages 42 &43. I also enjoyed learning about the brilliance of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone on pages 47 & 48.
We use the Golden Theme in life to determine who is good and who is not. (page 59)
Focusing on differences instead of similarities blinds us to the Golden Theme. (page 82)
Brian McDonald wraps up his book with the importance of storytelling—not just entertaining, but a healing art. Let people know they are not alone. You must make people understand we are all the same. (page 104)
Essential advice for writers and storytellers: Tell the truth—the deep truth—the truth as you see it. Readers and listeners will respond.