Story Smart
Using the Science of Story to Persuade, Influence, Inspire, and Teach
by Kendall Haven
October 2014, 174pp, 7x10
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-61069-811-5
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-812-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The neuroscience of story—made simple. This book translates key scientific findings into action by creating a step-by-step guide with an array of practical tips and techniques anyone can use.

This one-of-a-kind book reveals the secrets of a story’s power to persuade, inspire, influence, and to teach.

Our brains have been evolutionarily hardwired to think, to make sense, and to understand in simple—but hidden—story terms. You’ll discover the Neural Story Net, the Make Sense Mandate, Motive Matching, and the Story Influence Line—and understand how these powerful concepts control listener/reader engagement, attention, and the impact your communications will exert. You’ll learn that what reaches the conscious mind of your target audience is significantly different from what first reached their eyes and ears—and that you can control that internal, neural process.

This easy to use guide is organized into four parts: the neuroscience of narrative; your story tools; how narratives exert influence (changing beliefs, attitudes, values, etc.); and the straightforward process of creating “Story Smart” stories.


  • Shows how to use the power of story to get your message across in any medium or venue
  • Explores the convergence of the neural science of story with the art of communication to reveal the power of words
  • Provides tips, techniques, and strategies for structuring your stories for the most impact
  • Reveals the common communication pitfalls to avoid
Kendall Haven is the only internationally recognized expert in the science of story structure, participating in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Narrative Networks project to research the neural and cognitive science of how stories exert influence. Previously, Haven spent eight years as a senior research scientist for the Department of Energy. His published works include 24 books from Libraries Unlimited, including Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story; Crash Course in Storytelling; and Super Simple Storytelling: A Can-Do Guide for Every Classroom, Every Day.


2016 Storytelling World Awards Best Storytelling Resource—Storytelling World, March 17, 2016


"Kendall Haven speaks to the power of the story by exploring how the brain processes stories and what elements are key to making a story successful. This book is . . . an easy-to-read guide to the science behind what makes stories memorable."—The Library Quarterly, March 21, 2016
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