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The Way of Story: The Craft and Soul of Writing

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0976535201
ISBN-10: 0976535203
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Cathrine Ann Jones is in possession of a powerful talent...nothing is more rare in my opinion. -- Norman Mailer

On every page, something teaches, delights, or opens the soul to creative depth. A masterwork based on an astonishing career. -- Dianne Skafte, Ph.D., author of Listening the Oracle

The author has great insight into the human condition and the ability to create characters about whom we care. -- Stephen Simon, Oscar winning producer

About the Author

Cathrine Ann Jones is an award-winning writer whose films include The Christmas Wife (Jason Robards), Unlikely Angel (Dolly Parton), Angel Passing (Hume Cronyn, Calista Flockhart) which screened at Sundance and went on to win fifteen awards, and the TV series, Touched by an Angel. Ten of her plays, including Calamity Jane and On the Edge, have been produced both in and outside of New York City. Winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Award among others, Ms. Jones, a Fulbright Scholar, has served on the writing faculties of The New School University(NYC), University of Southern California (L.A.), Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Esalen Institute. Ms. Jones lives in Ojai, lectures internationally and serves as a story and script consultant.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Prasana Press (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976535203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976535201
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,725,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Terry on August 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book could not come at a worse time for me. In the middle of buying film equipment, trying to put finishing touches on two scripts, editing a friend's screenplay and working through an out-sourcing at my work - the last thing I needed was a book with a lot of "high-falutin'" words and abstract comments when it comes to writing. Just tell me about story and lets get on with it.

That, of course, was my assumption. How pleasantly surprised I was when the book I read was an honest, open and easy read about "Story." I will admit that, sometimes, I want to get away from books that take storytelling to a level of grandiose and mythic proportions. Where I almost tremble with fear when I put pen to paper or digits to keyboard - but this book is not that. This book is a straight-forward and very basic book about story. ALL about story: Character Development, Structure, Dialogue and, of course, Conflict. And more.

Is it a book for "Beginners?" I do not know if I would classify this book as "How to Write a Story 101" - but I can tell you that Ms. Jones's format is one that is very basic and very truthful and that anyone starting to write or an old (unproduced) veteran such as myself can learn something in these pages and can grow as a writer. In some ways I would say this book does an excellent job of reeling in the abstract to get a writer back to the basics and I, frankly, think we all need that once in a while.

Where the book falters, a bit, is in the fact that most every chapter ends with "Exercises" to do. Out of all my classes and many conversations with writers I've never met one person who said that they did the exercises found in books such as these. Most of the time they're too excited and want to move on to the next chapter.
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Format: Paperback
It was the subtitle of this book about writing that drew me to it: The Craft and Soul of Writing. The use of the word "soul" in connection with writing stopped me in my tracks. I too believe that good writing comes from the soul, yet my writing always has sounded more like a lawyer's brief than a soulful memoir or story. And so I wondered... Might this book free me from my mental prison? My hopes soared when on the first page, I read, "The whole of life can be a meditation, even writing." Clearly, I was in the hands of a philosopher as well as a writer. Here was a book which combined practical guidelines with spiritual experience.

I left the bookstore, looking at the book's unusual cover--a picture of an elderly fellow seated in a large old rowboat, its empty space in the rear crowded with colorful flowers. He uses a single wooden oar to paddle through the wide open sea as sprays of watery foam hit his face and obstruct his view. I see this as a metaphor for the obstacles and endlessly murky situations humans encounter as they row their way through each and every day, experiencing both the beauty they enjoy and the unpredictable vicissitudes that inevitably become obstacles along the way.

Numerous brilliant, relevant quotes by famous people appear on every page of The Way of Story. They remind the reader of the importance of soul to writing, of the path that writing must take in order to include the elusive soul. I read the profound and unique philosophies of such luminaries as Winston Churchill, Rimbaud, Harold Clurman, Lao Tzu, and many more, all of whom guide us to honor the soul. And we honor the soul by listening, by being still, by believing passionately in ourselves. "Passion," Jones writes, "must come first, then craft.
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Format: Paperback
The Way of Story may appear as a deceptively simple memoir/manual, but it is not. Catherine rockets you into the essentials of craft, as well as urging you to dig deep into yourself and transmit your emotions to the page, and the story.

Few books simultaneously pay equal attention to both the architecture AND the soul of the story. Finally, I think the book offers gems to both novice and experienced writers, including advice and a bounty of challenging exercises to get the ideas out of your head and onto the page. I wish I'd had this book when I started!
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Format: Paperback
After a ten year sabbatical from "serious" writing while I concentrated on making a living as a technical writer; and a three-year bout of taking care of and eventually saying goodbye to failing parents, it seemed that every original, clever, creative idea I ever had for story, character, or setting had been flushed out of my head with Drano.

Right-brain cluttered and left-brain heartbroken, I could barely find the spirit to pick up a pencil, let alone get down to serious writing. Catherine's book, The Way of Story, helped me renew fertility to those little places inside me that nurture creativity and desire to write, and trust that all those little idea seeds have stored inside them everything I need to create a fantasy world. The result was a renewed writing spirit and the completion of a novel as haunting and beautiful as I imagined it could be.

I am especially grateful for the wise and insightful choice of quotes Catherine included from great writers and philosophers. These have often led me down paths I might not have explored. While I have done many of the exercises, some of them several times, I've yet to complete them all and look forward to those little bits of time I reserve to seek out another one to try. My copy is watermarked and dog-eared and paper clipped and written in throughout. Of all the books I've collected over time on the subject of writing, this is the one that resides on the little bookshelf next to my bedtime reading lamp.
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