Frank Herbert, legendary author of Dune, on the vital importance of story

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most successful novels in history. A defining work of science fiction, Dune still outsells most new novels in the genre to this very day, almost 50 years after its publication.

“What is “story”? It’s the quality that keeps the reader following the narrative.”

While none of Herbert’s sequels, or the poorly written cash-in prequels by other writers, ever matched the quality of the original novel, in Dune Herbert proved himself to be a master novelist. In this advice originally published in the 2nd Writers of teh Future anthology, Frank Herbert discusses his most basic interest as a writer – story.

Dune by Frank Herbert. Read now.


“The single most important piece of advice I ever got was to concentrate on story. What is “story”? It’s the quality that keeps the reader following the narrative. A good story makes interesting things happen to a character with whom the reader can identify. And it keeps them happening, so that the character progresses and grows in stature.

A writer’s job is to do whatever is necessary to make the reader want to read the next line. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking about when you’re writing a story. Don’t think about money, don’t think about success; concentrate on the story—don’t waste your energy on anything else. That all takes care of itself, if you’ve done your job as a writer. If you haven’t done that, nothing helps.”

~Frank Herbert


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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