Loren Niemi

Why Use


My Books




The Book of Plots
by Loren Niemi

This is a primer of useful plots for storytellers, writers, and any professional (lawyer, minister, CEO) who needs to craft facts and themes into an engaging whole. If you want to expand your narrative horizons, this will get you started. Using variations of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and original stories from the author's repertoire, it examines the construction and limitations of ten narrative forms, including revelation, meta-narration and parallel plots. Developed and tested in workshops over the course of a decade, this text contains helpful formulas for each plot form and useful exercises for making stories.

"I use Loren's plot templates both as a teller and a teacher. He honors the tradition and also keeps it living and growing new directions with a great tool for cobbling tales."
--Kevin Kling, Storyteller and NPR Commentator

"One of the best tools to break open a story that is stuck and finding new ways to view and interpret your raw material."
--Nancy Donoval, Storyteller/Coach

"(Loren) Niemi has created here both a workbook and a library of examples that shows the man practices what he preaches. Besides explaining 10 plot forms simply and succinctly, he uses formulas that appeal to the left side of our creative brains (Flashback Plot: D-A-B-C-D-End) to help us see the plot pattern, and offers familiar examples ("Alice in Wonderland", "Big Fish.") Then he peppers the book with his own authentic stories--movingly autobiographical pieces that place us squarely in his Minnesota childhood on the farm of his Finnish grandparents, or bring us along as his car flips over in a late night accident and he walks away unhurt and pondering the phenomenon of chance."
--Jennie Orvino (feature writer, poet)

"Using examples from his own repertoire as well as a delightful series of changes rung on Jack and the Beanstalk... the result will inspire every creative storyteller to experiment enthusiastically with material."
--Jo Radner

Lluminia Press

Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories
By Loren Niemi & Elizabeth Ellis

A difficult story is any story whose content makes it challenging to tell or difficult to hear. Told for the wrong reasons, it can be as painful for the listener as for the teller. But we know from literature and media from Sophie's Choice to The Sixth Sense, told properly, a difficult story can powerfully alter not only he who tells it, but those who hear it.

How can we tell the stories of wickedness and loss, sorrow and grief? What stories are we not telling, and why not? How do we respectfully engage our audience and get to the core of a story's meaning? How can we learn from our troubles and share them in a way that helps others learn and grow?

Niemi and Ellis begin with the assumption that it is essential and beneficial to tell difficult stories. Stopping our ears or stilling our tongues will not make tragedy go away; rather, the first step in ending suffering is to name it for what it is. Inviting the Wolf In has three essential elements:

  • a general discussion about the value and necessity of telling difficult stories;
  • a "how-to" section that leads readers through the process of creating and shaping difficult stories; and
  • sample stories authored by Niemi, Ellis, and others who expound on the choices they made in shaping them.

This is a book for storytellers, ministers, therapists, social workers, human service professionals, lawyers and teachers-indeed, all readers who deal with those in crisis and confusion.

"Buy this book, if only to read the stories for inspiration. Elizabeth Ellis and Loren Niemi possess a level of compassion, maturity and skill that can mentor any storytelling risk-taker through the delicate task of using Truth - the real kind, the scary kind, the kind that sets you free - as the source for powerful stories. This is not a book about theories...this is a book about what they do, what has worked for them and what has worked for others they've taught in their workshops. It has worked for me, I highly recommend it."
--Annette Simmons

"Here we have a book of great honesty and depth, of caring and of considerable usefulness. Owning this book is a must for those who attempt the difficult task of shaping personal stories. And a read of Loren and Elizabeth's carefully thought through advice is basic to even tellers like myself, who wouldn't touch a personal tale with a ten-foot pole."
--Margaret Read-MacDonald

"The tone of this book is so thoughtful, as in, well thought-out, and so compassionate and honest, that it's a comfort, even as it's pushing the reader to step into emotionally scary stuff. It's not flippant. It's not preachy.
Even though I bought this at a going-out-of-business sale at a warehouse book kind of place ($1!), the book is still in print and well worth whatever price you pay."
--Lois-Narrative Nonfiction blog

Order on-line from August House Publishers: www.augusthouse.com


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