Book review – for readers and writers – no.131: Morgen Bailey reviews StoryWorks by Jane Bailey Bain

23 Sep

Today’s book review of a writing guide is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed (please note I’m usually booked up months in advance) and / or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

StoryWorks by Jane Bailey Bain

StoryWorks coverSynopsis: Inspirational leaders know the power of story. Top coaches use words as a tool for personal transformation. Great speakers and writers realize the importance of narrative. Do you have a new idea? A good proposal? A great product? The best way to sell it is by telling a story. This book shows you how to do that effectively. It is a practical handbook on how to tell stories, and ranges from classic tools like the ‘Rule of Threes’ to the new mnemonic ‘Five Finger Technique’. There are stories and creative exercises to expand your narrative repertoire. If you’re a leader who wants to communicate well, a professional keen to improve your speaking skills, a manager with a team to motivate or a writer looking for more ideas – you’ll find resources here to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Whether you have one minute to impress at an interview or the keynote speech at a conference, this book will help you tell better stories.

This guide is available via and


This guide starts with a really interesting background to storytelling over the centuries and how it has influenced us ever since. Jane then goes on to show how fiction can have much more impact than nonfiction and analyses examples showing this.

It was very interesting to learn different techniques for not only writing but some that can be used in other areas of our lives. The five senses section was unusual, and although we all know that chopping things into segments work well (I tell my students that 300 words a day equates to over 100,000 words a year – you could write a novel in just 20 minutes a day), it was a useful reminder.

Jane shares her extensive knowledge with us, and this book is so rich that, like a calorific cake, it is best devoured in small chunks in order to savour each portion.

For me, though, there were too many fables, and I wondered the relevance of having so many seemingly illustrating the same type of character, but it leads by example, and lovers of fables and fairytales would relish this style of teaching and the content within. I would have preferred more of a balance of contemporary to historical.

I spotted a cliché: ‘until you are blue in the face’ but it didn’t feel so bad in non-fiction narration.

Apart from the five finger technique (which in itself would be worth purchasing the book for), the most interesting pieces for me where right near the end: tips for storytelling, story worksheet, creating characters and business application and stories.

The final ‘about the author’ lists Jane’s background. Apart from being an executive coach, she has worked for several years as an advisor on development projects in Asia and Africa and these clearly have an influence on the stories chosen for this handbook.


At times, the book feels a little heavy which may not suit those who aren’t looking for a university–feel guide. The introduction to this book, however, promises you that you will find techniques to inform, instruct and entertain and, as the cliché goes, it does what it says on the tin.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition, RONE 2015 Judge, and teaches creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog,, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.


If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are just $1 or £1 ($2) until the end of Sept!! ***

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You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.


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