Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel

AlbaA large audience of people listen each week to radio shows in order to hear a good story. This new breed of storytellers use a variety of methods all for the end goal of providing the listener with a memorable story and some nugget of truth that they can carry with them after the show ends. And most importantly, to keep them coming back for more in future broadcasts.

Cartoonist Jessica Abel went behind the radio speakers to get a glimpse into what it takes to put together these audio stories that so many enjoy. She spoke to staff at This American Life, Radiolab, Planet Money, and others to get insights into the process, the struggles and victories of telling a good story. The result is Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio.

Books abound in storytelling and the art and discipline of crafting a story. However, Out on the Wire is the only one I have seen that presents the material in comic book form. I am not a reader of comics or graphic novels but I enjoyed the way the book progressed through the chapters in this fashion. It was very informative in the material it presented and the feel of the book made me feel as if I were in the same room with the players, listening to the conversations as they happened in real time. Abel covers important topics like story structure, character and voice, sound (a very important one for a non-visual medium), and editing.

I thought this book was extremely helpful and I recommend anyone interested in storytelling read this, along with anyone thinking of a career (or hobby) in radio storytelling or podcasting. It will be a good resource, but you will need to highlight the dialogue bubbles as you read, since this book doesn’t have a traditional outline or glossary.

I received this book from Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review.


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