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For several years, Aneeta Sundararaj has been helping writers through her website with countless articles, reviews and interviews. Now, she has compiled all her experience and expertise in her new book for beginner writers, How to Tell a Great Story.

After a brief introduction, Sundararaj takes beginners through all the steps necessary to become a great storyteller, from vital preparation, to understanding themes, to the reasons for telling a great story, to painting your setting and much more. At the end of the book there are five appendixes: on planning and analyzing your research material, information for market research, character profiling, copyright issues for storytellers, and a sample storyline.

Written in an engaging, yet thoughtful style, and combining quotes and written material from other authors, How to Tell a Great Story makes a helpful, information-laden reference book for any aspiring storyteller. What I really like about this book, though, is the new angle the author brings into it: the importance of storytelling not only for writing stories, but for other aspects of our lives. For example, knowing how to tell a great story can be helpful in the workplace if you work in marketing and publicity and must give a presentation. A story connects people in a way that a simple explanation or demonstration cannot.

Sundararaj points out the importance of timing and intonation; in other words, often it isn’t just the story that’s vital but how you tell it. It is a talent some people are born with but it is also a skill that can be learned and improved. The same logic works for writing. You may have a great story idea, but how you write it and execute it is what counts. The author’s advice works for aspiring short stories writers, novelists, and anyone who would like to get better at storytelling for everyday use. Reading this book was informative and interesting and I look forward to more of Sundararaj’s work in the future.

Title: How To Tell A Great Story
Author: Aneeta Sundararaj
Publisher: Bookshaker
Publication date: 4 July 2011
ISBN 10: 1907498575
ISBN 13: 978-1907498572
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 172
Price: US18.00
Genre: Non-fiction

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Although this book is meant primarily for business people who have to write reports on a regular basis, I asked for a review copy because the title intrigued me. As an author, I’m always interested in writing advice, especially when it’s related to writing fast and, as the title states, under pressure. As it turned out, I was able to gather a lot of motivational and helpful tips from this book.

As a writer, sometimes it’s hard to focus when you’re working on various projects simultaneously and even more so when you’re under a deadline. I don’t know about you, but I tend to freeze when I have many projects unless I have a clear-cut plan /schedule worked out in advance. There are various ways you can trick your brain into focusing on your writing. Vassallo’s book teaches some techniques on how to write effectively, consistently and, most important, quickly.

The author’s approach is based on DASH, the four critical components needed when working under pressure: Direction, Acceleration, Strength, and Health. These elements are fully demonstrated and explained in the book, but to give you a quick idea of what to expect:

  • Direction: Tips for organizing your thoughts.
  • Acceleration: Tips for writing on the fly with a ‘beat the clock’ mindset.
  • Strength: Tips on how to use a quality control system and creating a productive environment.
  • Health: Tips on prioritizing work and minimizing future pressures.

I found the book well structured and the writing straight forward and enjoyable. Vassallo uses clear examples and metaphors to demonstrate his ideas and techniques. It is a quick read, too. If you work in business and have to write fast under deadlines, I prompt you to get a copy of this book. But How to Write Fast isn’t only for business people and most writers will benefit from this method.

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