Rhetoric of Story – Part 1

Change – where all story begins and ends

The first full lecture in the Rhetoric of Story introduces the first of seven foundational elements of storytelling – change. The key ideas introduced in this lecture are:

  • the quality that helped one story live for over 5000 years
  • our brains make sense of constant change by telling stories
  • all stories are about change, but many stories maintain equilibrium
  • the different tiers of of change – physical, social, interior
  • the BIG and SMALL story inside every story
  • archetypal human change is the core of powerful storytelling
  • we turn to storytellers to give meaning to change

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The I-Ching : Book of Changes. An ancient Chinese text often used for divination. Each of the book’s 64 hexagrams describe an archetypal change in human life, a fascinating read in any context, but consider how any one of these could be used as the basis of a great story!


Think about a time in your life when you have experienced major change. Write a single page describing the the events that lead up to this change, the details of what happened, and the events that followed.

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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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