Books Insights Non-Fiction Personal Development

Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks | Book Report


  • You want to learn how to craft and tell better stories
  • You want to read a super entertaining book filled with the author’s own stories
  • You want to know how storytelling can be a superpower

Naka-discover nanaman ako ng hidden gem sa book na ‘to. Lately, madami akong pinapanood na YouTubers na ang niche is self improvement. So na-recommend ‘tong book na ‘to. Ang subtitle nya is Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling. Lately ulit, mas trip kong magbasa ng mga non-fiction books. Halos hindi ako makausad sa mga binabasa kong fiction.

Anyway, ang libro na ito ay obviously, about storytelling. Na-attract akong basahin ‘tong book na ‘to kasi gusto kong ma-express ko yung thoughts ko ng mas maayos. And baka makatulong din sa nerves ko pag nagsasalita ako sa harap ng strangers. Grabe kasi akong kabahan sa mga presentations, interviews, etc. At since meron din kaming podcast, gusto kong mag-improve sa pagkikwento.

Eto yung mga natutunan ko dito sa book na ‘to. Medyo wala akong energy kaya almost quotes na lang lahat:


  • The story must reflect change, realization or transformation. The change doesn’t need to be extreme, it can be infinitesimal.

Stories that fail to reflect change over time are known as anecdotes. Romps. Drinking stories. Vacation stories.

  • Start doing ‘Homework for Life’. Eto yung everyday, you try to capture the most story-worthy moment from your day tapos isusulat mo (use a spreadsheet). Kahit gano ka-boring yung araw mo, basta try to extract something. Kahit one sentence lang.
  • Another strategy called ‘Crash & Burn’. It’s continuously writing for 10 minutes without a specific topic and just write whatever’s in your brain. You don’t have to hold onto one idea.

Regardless of how intriguing or compelling your current idea may be, you must release it immediately when a new idea comes crashing in.

  • List some prompts to trigger some memories. For each prompt, associate the first, last, best and worst. Some prompts given were ‘Kiss’, ‘Gift’ and ‘Travel’.
  • Search for the five-second moment in your story.

These five-second moments are the moments in your life when something fundamentally changes forever. You fall in love. You fall out of love. You discover something new about yourself or another person. Your opinion on a subject dramatically changes. You find forgiveness. You reach acceptance. You sink into despair. You grudgingly resign. You’re drowned in regret. You make a life-altering decision. Choose a new path. Accomplish something great. Fail spectacularly.

  • The five-second moment is the end of your story. Start with the ending.
  • The start of your story is the opposite of your five-second moment.

Stories must reflect change of some kind. It need not always be positive change, and the change need not be monumental. In fact, stories about failure, embarrassment, and shame are fantastic. Stories about trying desperately to achieve a goal and failing spectacularly are beloved. Even when progress is made, the best stories often reflect incremental change. Tiny steps forward. Glacial improvement. Audiences would much rather hear about incremental, tenuous growth than about overnight success.

Change is key.

The story of how you’re an amazing person who did an amazing thing and ended up in an amazing place is not a story. It’s a recipe for a douchebag.

The story of how you’re a pathetic person who did a pathetic thing and remained pathetic is also not a story. It’s a recipe for a sad sack.

  • When figuring out the beginning and end of your story, don’t latch onto the first thing that comes to mind.

I also believe that great storytellers know this: The first idea is rarely the best idea. It may be the most convenient idea. The easiest to remember. The one you personally like the most. But rarely is the first idea the one that I choose. First ideas are for the lazy. The complacent. The easily satisfied.

  • Try to start your story as close to the end as possible.

By starting as close to the end as possible, we shorten our stories. We avoid unnecessary setup. We eliminate superfluous details.

  • Begin the story with a forward movement whenever possible.

Opening with forward movement creates instant momentum in a story. It makes the audience feel that we’re already on our way, immersed in the world you are moving us through.

  • Don’t set expectations. Starting with a sentence like, “This is hilarious.” sets the bar high. It can establish unrealistic expectations. Also, it reduces your chances of surprising the audience.
  • Place the ‘Elephant’ as early in the story as possible. Basically it’s an idea on what the story is about.

Start with a pink, polka-dotted Elephant and end with varying shades of blue.

  • The ‘Backpack’ strategy. The backpack contains the storyteller’s hopes and fears. Lay out your plan. But this strategy is most effective when the plan does not work.

It’s an odd thing: The audience wants characters (or storytellers) to succeed, but they don’t really want characters to succeed. It’s struggle and strife that make stories great. They want to see their characters ultimately triumph, but they want suffering first. They don’t want anything to be easy.

Perfect plans executed perfectly never make good stories. They are the stories told by narcissists, jackasses, and thin-skinned egotists.

  • If something unexpected happen in the story, use ‘Breadcrumbs’ before revealing that moment.

The trick is to choose the Breadcrumbs that create the most wonder in the minds of your audience without giving them enough to guess correctly. Choose wisely. Breadcrumbs are particularly effective when the truly unexpected is coming.

  • Use ‘Hourglasses’ to prolong the moment. The pa-bitin effect. Slow things down before the moment.

When you know the audience is hanging on your every word, let them hang. Drag out the wait as long as possible.

  • State your assumptions or predictions even though you already know what’s going to happen. The author calls this strategy ‘Crystal Ball’.

We use Crystal Balls in everyday life because we, as human beings, are all prediction machines. We are constantly trying to anticipate the future, so when telling stories, recounting those in-the-moment predictions is critical.

  • We don’t have to tell every harrowing detail of the story. We can omit elements of the story if they don’t serve a purpose.
  • Stories are better without redemption.

The best stories are a little messy at the end. They offer small steps, marginal progress, questionable results. The best stories give rise to unanswered questions.

  • Let the audience know the location of where you are in the story. Not necessarily yung lugar talaga. For example: nakaupo sa sofa or naglalakad sa garden.

A great storyteller creates a movie in the mind of the audience. Listeners should be able to see the story in their mind’s eye at all times.

  • Refrain from using ‘and’; use ‘but’ and ‘therefore’ instead.

“And” stories have no movement or momentum.

But and therefore are words that signal change. The story was heading in one direction, but now it’s heading in another. We started out zigging, but now we are zagging. We did this, and therefore this new thing happened.

  • Use negative instead of positive. Saying “I’m not smart” is better than saying “I’m dumb.” But using a positive statement at the end of a paragraph of description can add a punch.
  • The goal of storytelling is to connect with the audience so make a big story little. Hindi lahat ng tao naka-experience na maholdap or mabaril or ma-operahan ng tatlong beses. You must find a way to bridge the gap.

Little moments hidden inside big moments. That’s what we need to find to tell a big story well.

  • Tell stories of your small wins. People prefer this over large leaps.

This is how to tell a success story: Rather than telling a story of your full and complete accomplishment, tell the story of a small part of the success. Tell about a small step. Feel free to allude to the better days that may lie ahead, but don’t try to tell everything. Small steps only.

  • Refrain from swearing, it’s lazy. Don’t be too vulgar. Stop using celebrities as comparisons.
  • It’s okay to be a little nervous. It’s endearing and it shows how much you care.

Nervousness can be your friend. Too much of it is never good, but not being nervous at all isn’t good either. I bristle at the saying, “If you’re not nervous, you don’t care enough.”

  • Don’t memorize your stories.

I don’t memorize my stories. I memorize the places where my story takes me, so even if I can’t remember how I want to tell it, I can still do so. I may lose some laugh lines, clever transitions, and “golden sentences,” but I’m still telling my story. It may not sound as good as it could, but I’m not trapping my audience in awkward, story-killing silence.

As Catherine said, I just keep talking.

  • Storytelling gives you an opportunity to be entertaining.

This is how I approach teaching every day. I believe with all my heart that I am stealing seven hours of childhood from each of my students on a daily basis. I am paid to be a thief. I rob my students of hour upon hour of the most precious and fleeting time of their lives. Therefore I have a duty to make this time as meaningful, productive, memorable, and yes, entertaining as possible.

  • Be interesting by telling better stories.

The world is filled with uninteresting people. I meet them every day. I suspect that in most cases, there is an interesting person lurking beneath their unfortunately uninteresting veneer.

These are people who answer, “How was your day?” with an itinerary of the day instead of sharing a meaningful moment. They are folks who tell us about their vacations by offering an adjective-laden time line of the week. They are the people who make meetings feel endless, dinners feel monotonous, and conferences feel disappointing.

These are the people who are afraid to talk about embarrassing moments or epic failures. They lack authenticity. Listen poorly. Fear vulnerability. Lack the skills and strategy to craft and tell a good story.

  • It’s a superpower.

Storytellers have a superpower. They can make people feel good and whole and right. They can inspire and inform. They can make people see the world in a new way. They can make people feel better about themselves.

RATING [5 🌟]

Sobrang enjoy ‘tong book na ‘to! Nakaka-inspire at ang dami kong natutunan. Kaya nag-try akong magsulat ng story about nung time na naholdap ako. Nakwento ko na sya dito dati. Halos pareho lang naman yung laman pero iniba ko lang yung pagkaka-kwento. Feeling ko ang laki ng difference compared dun sa unang attempt ko.

Sobrang entertaining din ng pagkakasulat nung book. Highly recommended kahit kanino!


Stories are not a simple recounting of events. They are not a thorough reporting of moments over a given period of time. Stories are the crafted representation of events that are related in such a way to demonstrate change over time in the life of the teller.

Contrast is king in storytelling, and laughter can provide a fantastic contrast to something authentically awful.

If you want your story to linger with your audience (and that should be your goal), you should end in a place that is moving, vulnerable, or revealing, or establishes connection with the audience.

But remember that humor is not necessary. There are many great stories that are entirely humorless but are still highly effective and beloved.

Humor is optional. Heart is nonnegotiable.

In its best form, storytelling is time travel. If I am doing my job well and telling an excellent story, you may, for just a moment, forget that you exist in the present time and space and travel back to the year and location that I am describing.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

Anne Lamott

Click to view my digital bookshelf.


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