We all know how to tell stories just like we all know our native language, having heard both since we were born. People, however, who study their native language discover there's much they misunderstood or simply didn't know. The same is true of story when we look at it more carefully.
With topics that include the theory of story as model, the fractal key to narrative complexity, and the art of the long form, this volume will show you the essence of stories and storytelling.
It's advanced stuff - no writing prompts or exercises here - but if you want to understand how stories are the minimum container of significance, how storytelling is like commanding an artillery battery, and why the three easy steps are (1) lather, (2) rinse, and (3) repeat, this volume is for you.
And like deep magic, once you comprehend the nature of the art, you'll be well on your way to becoming a master story weaver.
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Tolkien is a red herring
Hansen seems to now a lot about writing. There's no indication he has any particular expertise or insight into Tolkien.
If your interest is in how to write, this work may be fine. If your interest is in J.R.R. Tolkien, and what made his writing unique, don't bother with this work. Hansen's inclusion of Tolkien material seemed incidental only - a few paragraphs in the middle which took some examples from Tolkien's books to make points about writing in general. You are left with the impression that he could just as easily have titled the book How to Write Like Ernest Hemingway or Louis L'amour or Danielle Steel by revising those few examples on one page. The rest of the work would remain exactly the same. And that's ok... unless your interest is in Tolkien.
Again, as a manual on how to write, this is work fine - it just isn't a work about J.R.R. Tolkien. Since that was my interest, it was a complete disappointment.