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The Art of Storytelling: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Inspiring Writing Principles
(Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's full session from INBOUND)INBOUND alum Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the most influential and celebrated authors of our time. Her work has been recognized for its ability to tackle complex issues with clarity and nuance, and her stories have inspired countless readers around the world.
But what makes Adichie's writing so powerful? What are the rules and principles that she follows—and the wisdom and life she pursues—when creating content and telling stories?
Be true to yourself.
Adichie believes that the best stories are those that come from a place of authenticity. She encourages writers to be true to themselves and to their experiences, even if it means being vulnerable. “I believe that stories can change minds. I believe that stories can take away dignity,” she explains. “And I believe that stories can also restore dignity."
Explore the mystery.
Adichie encourages writers to follow the story, instead of controlling or forcing a story. This creates more vivid, memorable writing—and lets readers draw their own conclusions. “No human endeavor requires freedom as much as creativity does,” she says. “To create, one needs a kind of formless roving of the mind, to go nowhere and anywhere and everywhere. It is from that swell that art emerges.
Don't shy away from difficult topics.
Adichie's writing often resists, challenges, and even complicates otherwise easy narratives. She believes that writers have a responsibility to engage with the fuller breadth and depth of raw material, to deepen our understanding of the world around us. “Literature shows us who we are, takes us into history,” she notes. “[It] tells us not just what happened, but how it felt and teaches us.”
Respect your readers.
Adichie is a master of crafting stories that engage her readers without ever talking down to them. She believes that writers should always respect their readers' intelligence and their ability to engage with complex ideas. "As a reader, I have often felt the magic of literature, that sudden internal shiver while reading a novel, that glorious shock of mutuality,” she says. “A sense of wonder that a stranger’s words could make me feel less alone in the world.”
Adichie’s rules for content creation and storytelling are not only practical but also imbued with a sense of passion and purpose. Through her work, Adichie has shown us that storytelling can be a powerful tool for change, and that by following these simple but powerful principles, we too can make a difference.