“It is only by stopping to analyze what we’re unconsciously responding to when we read a story…that we can then write a story that will grab the [reader]. This is true whether you’re writing a literary novel, hard-boiled mystery, or supernatural teen romance.” ~from Wired for Story
What makes for a good story, or a bad one for that matter? As a reader, I’ve flipped through pages of a novel with beautiful prose, confounded as to why I can’t stand the story. Was it plot? Subject? Character? Too, I’ve wondered why books with flat prose kept me up at night, turning pages.
There’s a secret to this writing business, and Lisa Cron takes a look at that secret from the inside out in her new book, Wired for Story: the Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence.
Brain science, think of that, applied to writing.
I received an ARC of this book a few months ago, and since then I’ve underlined passages on several pages and earmarked the rest (thank goodness we don’t have to return ARCs). I love Lisa’s fresh look at storytelling and structure. Using research in neuroscience, Lisa doesn’t just focus on what makes a story work but explains why a story works. At the same time, she lists questions at the end of each chapter to help writers gauge when and where their stories need more attention.
I’m not kidding when I say I’ve left pencil tracks on 80% of this book. While I don’t have the space to share everything that I love about it with you, I want to highlight one thing that stuck out for me.
“The story is in the specifics.”
Story ideas, when viewed in a general way, are not unique. Nor are they very exciting. As Lisa says, the story comes alive in the specifics. Throughout her book, Lisa gives writers tips, tools, and strategies to take back to their drafts, to make their characters their own, to add depth to their stories and turn them into ones readers won’t want to put down. Wired for Story is a great resource to keep close at hand while working through that first, second, and tenth draft.
You can read an excerpt of Lisa’s book on Jane Friedman’s blog or check out her Q&A with John Magnet Bell on Start Your Novel. For more information about Lisa Cron and Wired for Story, check out her website: wiredforstory.com.
Pass it on.