Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working with Stories wants to know

This is an open call to readers of my book Working with Stories.

As some know, I started out this blog by dusting off a presentation I made in 2000 on eight observations about stories and storytelling in groups. I've been surprised by how much I have to say about those observations nine story-filled years later. I thought these posts would be little things, but every simple observation I made then unfolds itself like origami into a long essay as soon as I reflect on what I've learned about it since.

So I've decided to finish the last three posts, then fold all the new writing into WWS and put out a second edition. This new stuff should complement the existing WWS text, which people have said is more of a "field guide" or "how to," with more of the "why" of the topic.

What is missing?

My question to you is: What should I add to WWS besides finishing these eight observations? What do you think WWS needs that it doesn't have? What do you wish it explained that it doesn't?

And of course, tell me about your experiences with WWS. What happened when you read it? What were the high points and the low points? (I'm going into my cave....)

What about the pictures?

And another question: Do the pictures of leaves and things work for you? Or are they just distracting? I used them because I took them so they are free, and also I wanted to help people think a little about what I wrote by putting in things that challenged them to find connections. But I could replace them with the standard thing of stock pictures of people doing things in offices, etc etc.

Which is better?

Personally I find all the pictures of people in meeting rooms b.o.r.i.n.g. But maybe my leaf pictures are boring too. Be honest, I can handle it (%_^)

Please send questions, topics, suggestions, feedback in email (cfkurtz at cfkurtz dot com) or on the WWS Google Group or in comments on this blog.

Working with Stories will thank you.


Josh Kilen said...

Pictures tell a story just as much as your words. The picture to the left is a little bland but at least there are people doing something, and the reader can well imagine themselves in that situation (mental simulation being a key ingredient for a great story). The leaf gives nothing more than some introspection if the reader even takes time to delve into the metaphor.

General Rule: Good pictures of people doing the things you are talking about always trump stock photography or overly artistic images.

Find a local photographer with some promise and trade full credit in your book and website for some work. Even a half decent photographer can take some great pictures, at least for your purposes.

... if can't think of one, contact my friend Robert Root, he's gifted and would be willing to trade I think (

Cynthia Kurtz said...

Thanks Josh for the thoughtful comments. That's a good point that people need to imagine themselves in the situation. Asking people to take time to delve into metaphors was kind of the point of using the nature images - but I do wonder if I am asking too much there, or if it just comes off as confusing instead.

The problem with using images of people is not so much in finding a photographer as in finding subjects. You can't include pictures of people in commercial products without their permission. That's why stock photos cost something - they paid those people to have their pictures taken. So finding a local photographer is, I think, the easier part of the task. I have no idea what would be entailed in having a photographer hire people to model and to get signed releases from people. That all sounds way more complicated than just making a deal with one person.

If I used stock photography I could be sure I had the legal right to use all photos of the people portrayed. But ... stock photos tend to be stereotypical, and they don't lead people to think very deeply about what has been said. And they aren't free.

So, it's still a quandary. But thanks for your advice! I appreciate it!