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How does one define the word story? Long, short, funny or serious? Dark, inspirational, or possibly captivating? Each person has his or her own unique story to tell.  Stories are never-ending journeys, hidden talents or suppressed memories, all waiting to be told. We all have a distinct definition of a story, so why not share yours? Here at The Storyteller Agency we love to hear and to tell stories. To start off the week, we’ve compiled some of the best storytelling quotes in hopes of inspiring others to tell their stories. So, what’s your story?

Storytelling Quotes

1. “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”

--Patrick Rothfuss, author

Works: The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear

2. “Storytelling is our obligation to the next generation. If all we are doing is marketing, we are doing a disservice, and not only to our profession, but to our children, and their children. Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging, and educating them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling.”

--Laura Holloway, Founder & Chief of The Storyteller Agency

3. “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

--Brandon Sanderson, fantasy and science fiction writer

Works: The Way of Kings

4. “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.”

-- Sue Monk Kidd, author

Works:  The Secret Life of Bees

5. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

 ― Joan Didion, writer and journalist

Works: The White Album

6. “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”

 ― Graham Greene, novelist and author

 The End of the Affair, The Quiet American

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7.” There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. When he reads a novel, he wants either his sense tormented or his spirits raised. He wants to be transported, instantly, either to mock damnation or a mock innocence.”

 ― Flannery O'Connor, writer and essayist

Works:  Wise Blood, The Violent Bear it Away

8. “Inside each of us is a natural-born storyteller, waiting to be released.”

-- Robin Moore, author

Works: The Green Berets

9. “Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

--Dr. Howard Gardner, professor Harvard University

10. “And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message?  It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story.  Storytelling . . . good storytelling . . . is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”

--Gary Halbert, author, marketing practitioner, copywriter

Works: The Boron Letters

11. “Narrative imagining — story — is the fundamental instrument of thought.  Rational capacities depend upon it.  It is our chief means of looking into the future, or predicting, of planning, and of explaining.” 

--Mark Turner, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author

Works: The Literary Mind

12. “We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”

--Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Center

13. “The way we experience story will evolve, but as storytelling animals, we will no more give it up than start walking on all fours.”

--Jonathan Gottschall, author

Works: The Storytelling Animal

14. You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.”

--Margaret Atwood, poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist.

Works: The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace

15. Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.”

Robert McKee, professor

16. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

 – Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker

Works: The Icarus Deception, V Is For Vulnerable, Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

17. “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers.”

--Daniel Pink, author

Works: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

18. “Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses.”

-- Aleks Krotoski, author, broadcaster, journalist and social psychologist

Works: Untangling the Web

19. “Well, if storytelling is important, then your narrative ability or your ability to put into words or use what someone else has put into words effectively, is important too.”

Howard Gardner, American psychologist

20. “The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic slice of truth, wisdom, is dying out.”

 – Walter Benjamin, philosopher and cultural critic

Theses on the Philosophy of History, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, Arcades Project

21. “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

 – J.K. Rowling, novelist, screenwriter and film producer

Works: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil

22. “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”

Jean Luc Godard, film director, screen writer, film critic

23. “Purposeful storytelling isn’t show business, it’s good business.”

Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, entrepreneur, educator

24. “Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories or common-sense advice.”

 – Edward Miller, founder of Edward Elementary, illustrator and product designer

Works: Boats on the River

25. “At its very core, marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey – appealing to our wants, needs and desires – while at the same time telling us about a product or service.”

 – Melinda Partin, Multimedia Producer, Digital Marketing director

Works: Kaspar, Offending the Audience

29. “Stories create community, enable us to see through the eyes of other people, and open us to the claims of others.”

Peter Forbes, photographer and author

Works: A Man Apart

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30. The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.”

Ben Okri, poet and novelist

Works: The Famished Road, Wild

31. "Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

 --Jean Luc Godard, film writer, film critic, film director

Works: Liberty and Homeland, In Praise of Love, The Old Place, Origins of the 21st Century, Adieu au TNS, Histoire(s) du cinéma: La monnaie de l'absolu

32. "Story is a yearning meeting an obstacle."

--Robert Olen Butler, author

Works: Alleys of Eden, Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, Hell, A Small Hotel, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul, The Empire of Night, Perfume River

33. "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all."

 --Joseph Campbell, mythologist, writer and lecturer

Works: The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Masks of God, Historical Atlas of World Mythology

34. "Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it."

 --Hannah Arendt, political theorist, philosopher

35. "The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions."

 --Michael Margolis, CEO Get Storied, Educator, Futures Anthropologist,

36. "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

--Maya Angelou, poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist

Works: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


37. “This is our story to tell. You’d think for all the reading I do, I would have thought about this before, but I haven’t. I’ve never once thought about the interpretative, the story telling aspect of life, of my life. I always felt like I was in a story, yes, but not like I was the author of it, or like I had any say in its telling whatsoever.” ― Jandy Nelson, author

Works: The Sky Is Everywhere

38. “I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”

 ― Chris Cleave, writer and journalist

Works: Little Bee

39. “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”

-- Eudora Welty, short story writer

Works:  A Worn Path

40. “Tell the story that's been growing in your heart, the characters you can't keep out of your head, the tale story that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.”

Jennifer Weiner, writer, television producer, and journalist

Works: In Her Shoes, Fly Away Home, Goodnight Nobody

41. “Authors do not choose a story to write, the story chooses us.”

 ― Richard P. Denney, author

Works: What Lies Beneath, Mara, Hillserpent Academy

42. “Once upon a time there was what there was, and if nothing had happened there would be nothing to tell.”


 ― Charles de Lint, writer

Works: Dreams Underfoot, The Dreaming Place, Promises to Keep

43. “There is no greater power on this earth than story.”

 ― Libba Bray, author

Works: The Diviners, Lair of Dreams

44. “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”

 ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, author

Works: Bag of Bones Scribner, Black House, Carrie Doubleday, Cell Scribner, Christine Viking Press , The Colorado Kid Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc., Cujo Viking Press, Cycle of the Werewolf Signet , The Dark Half Viking Press, The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Scribner ,The Dark Tower, Dolores Claiborne

45. “Whenever I'm asked what advice I have for young writers, I always say that the first thing is to read, and to read a lot. The second thing is to write. And the third thing, which I think is absolutely vital, is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories you're being told.”

 ― John Green, author

Works: An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns

46. “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of work of fiction should be to tell a story.”

 ― Wilkie Collins, novelist, playwright, and short story writer

Works: The Woman in White

47. “If every event which occurred could be given a name, there would be no need for stories.”

 ― John Berger, art critic, novelist, painter and poet

Works: Once In Europa, Ways of Seeing, G., Here is Where We Meet: A Story of Crossing Paths

48. “Things in life have no real beginning, though our stories about them always do.”

 ― Colum McCann, author

Works:  Zoli, Let the Great World Spin, Transatlantic


49. “Storytelling wasn't about making things up. It was more like inviting the stories to come through her, let themselves be told.”

 ― Jennifer McMahon, novelist

Works: Don't Breathe a Word, The Night Sister, The Winter People, Promise Not to Tell

50. "Storytelling offers the opportunity to talk with your audience, not at them."

 ― Laura Holloway, Founder and Chief of The Storyteller Agency

Now that you have a little inspiration, it’s time to get started with your story. With our guidance and expertise, we can help bring the storyteller out of you. We can assist you with one or all of your visual storytelling, written storytelling, or social media storytelling needs.