Book Review – Do Story: How to Tell Your Story So the World Listens by Bobette Buster

This is one of the books that I brought away with me whilst I’m out of the country exploring the concept of creative science communication. When you think about it, science communication is all about storytelling, and I figured this little book would be a quick way to get my brain into the habit of thinking about the subject without getting lost in tonnes of literature or heavy academic texts. It definitely did the job; at less than 100 pages, I read this on a flight and was ready to get talking to people about all things science storytelling. You can get your hands on Bobette Buster’s ‘Do Story: How to tell your story so the world listens’, here.

What the publisher says
Do Books provide readers with the tools and inspiration to live a fulfilled and engaged life. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, cultivating a positive mindset, or finding inspiration for a new project, these books dispense expert wisdom on subjects related to personal growth, business, and slow living. Written by the movers, shakers, and change makers who have participated in the DO Lectures in the United Kingdom and the United States, Do Books are packed with easy-to-follow exercises, bite-size tips, and striking visuals. Practical, useful, and encouraging, each book delivers trustworthy, empowering guidance so readers can succeed in whatever they choose to “do.”

Do Story teaches the art of telling powerful stories. The book includes short stories on a variety of subjects; taken together they demonstrate a range of effective narrative techniques. Vivid, enlightening, and brimming with practical tips, Do Story unlocks the secrets to becoming a captivating storyteller.

Today’s world wants to know you and the real story behind why you do what you do. Whether you have a product to sell, a company mission to share, or an audience to entertain, people are more likely to engage and connect if you deliver a well-crafted story with an emotional core.

Bobette Buster is a story consultant, lecturer and screenwriter who works with the major studios such as Pixar, Disney and Sony Animation, and in top film programs all over the world. In this, her first book, she shares the tools and principles used by some of the world’s best storytellers and helps you apply them to your own.

Find out: How to source, structure and shape your story; Ways to discover the essence of your story; Why finding the emotional connection with your audience can take a story from good to great.

So, what’s your story?

What the critics say

“Bobette is a truly fantastic teacher, a main stay in the USC Peter Stark Program where she has made such a tremendous impact on students. No one understands story better than her.” (Larry Turman, Director, USC Peter Stark Program and Producer of The Graduate)

“Does what it says on the tin. Probably the best constructed of the Do books I’ve read thus far—not surprisingly, it really benefits from the great stories peppered throughout to keep it engaging. Made me want to write stories again.” (GoodReads Reviewer)

“A truly engaging read, beautifully crafted! A small book with great momentum, compelling insights – I will keep for a lifetime.” (Amazon Reviewer)

My thoughts

I’m not sure what I expected from this book. It’s a very short book, and part of me thought it was going to be full of twee inspirational quotes that wouldn’t make any tangible difference to my ability to tell stories at all, but another part of me had built it up massively, thinking it could genuinely improve my skills. In actual fact I think it landed somewhere in the middle, probably a bit closer to the latter than the former. Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it’s definitely an introductory text that can (and probably will for me) act as a confidence boost for me to pick up more complex books on this topic.

The 10 principles of storytelling that are detailed at the end of the first chapter as really helpful – I’d heard many of the points before, but having them together in a sort of checklist format means this books is something I’ll keep and refer to when I’m writing in the future. Those 10 principles in particular really got me thinking. I read this book with the mindset of a scientist; someone looking to tell the stories of science more effectively for a public audience, but the principles to me seemed to be things that are inherently unscientific, skills that are intentionally trained out of us as scientists. Principle number 9 is ‘bring yourself: a story is as much about you as anything else’. That is not what science is, or what science is seen to be – science is seen to be this objective thing that can have a yes or no answer, but being a scientist you realise that the idea of a yes/no answer is pretty rare. To me, science is the process of acquiring knowledge, but it’s important to acknowledge that so much of that knowledge is subjective and can be interpreted in a multitude of different ways. This book reinforced that for me, and highlighted the need for scientists to let go when it comes to communicating their research.

This book is full of easy to digest tips and tricks for good storytelling, much of it feels like common sense after you’ve read it, and it has left me with lots of unanswered questions – definitely an introductory text, but one that I think more scientists (and others) should read, particularly useful for people that work in areas where they need to communicate complex subjects that can often be thought of as boring.

Would I recommend it?

Hmm. For scientists and anyone looking to communicate complex topics more effectively, yes, but it’s not really the sort of book I’d recommend people read for fun. I enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to it again and again when I’m editing text to make sure I’m using the tips and tricks that it suggests, but it’s more of a quick and dirty reference book. For experienced communicators this will be too simplistic, but this would be a brilliant gift for early career scientists and researchers that are just getting to grips with communicating their work.


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