The Way of Story, The Craft and Soul of Writing
By Catherine Ann Jones
Michael Wiese Productions (2007)
193 pages, $22.95, paper
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Review by Patricia L. Fry
If you write fiction and yearn for support on behalf of your craft, this book is for you. Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Catherine Ann Jones shares her expertise in everything from choosing a story to making story your life, and she does it with clarity and a sense of clever creativity. Through the use of free-flowing narrative, meaningful anecdotes and quotes, Jones takes readers on a lovely journey toward understanding the concept of story.
It’s obvious that Jones is passionate about the process of creating stories and it is with passion that she shares not only what she has learned from years in the business, but what she feels inwardly. According to Jones, we should allow personal intuition and dreams to play a roll in our creative endeavors. With such notable films as The Christmas Wife and Unlikely Angel to her credit, Jones definitely knows her stuff. She says, "Storytelling is not only the root of film, theatre, literature and culture, but of the life experience itself."
I worked with Jones some years ago on one of her ten plays at the community theater in Ojai, California. I was involved in costuming for her amazing musical, Calamity Jane—a play that also did well on stage in New York. Not only is Jones a playwright, screenwriter and author, she travels the world teaching intimate workshops on the topic of her book. Why does she reach out to share her craft? Perhaps part of the reason is in this comment from the book, "Story can answer the deep human need to find meaning, and consequently, provide hope."
Yes, to Jones, story is more than what you can make up in your head—it is what you can create in order to facilitate positive change—personally and worldwide. I particularly like her section on where story ideas come from. Her film, Unlikely Angel (starring Dolly Parton) manifested from a dream. But her book is not all about concept. Jones also offers up an enormous helping of coaching and she provides exercises and examples to help you develop your story, define your characters, create an appropriate measure of conflict and so forth.
This book is generously sprinkled with quotes from William Shakespeare, Janis Joplin, Picasso, Somerset Maugham and Norman Mailer, who also wrote a wonderfully complimentary testimonial for her book cover.
For those of you who love story as much as Jones does and who want a beautiful and informative guide to writing, I recommend this book. I give it 5 stars.
–Patricia Fry is President of SPAWN and author of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell your Book and How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less. Her Web site is http://www.matilijapress.com/.