Book Recommendation: Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron

“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:

Pass it on.


About Christi

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
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15 Responses to Book Recommendation: Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron

  1. Thanks for the recommendation. I saw the announcement for this book yesterday and downloaded the sample, but now you’ve motivated me to lay down cold, hard (virtual) cash. 😉

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we want and need fiction, and from what I read in the sample, this book looks at that question.

    I hope your fiction is flowing well!

    • Christi Christi says:

      I love books that incorporate outside research to explain why we do what we do or need what we need, and this is definitely one of those books — well worth it!

      Writing is slow lately, but still moving forward 🙂

  2. Lisa came onto my radar via a guest post on Writer Unboxed. The more I hear about this book, the more I want it. (And, Shhh, have you noticed her avatar in the sidebar over at WU? She’s listed among the monthly contributors… Very exciting!)

    Thanks for sharing some ‘specifics’ that entice me all the more, Christi!

    • Christi Christi says:

      You’ll definitely have to check out this book. And, I hadn’t seen the addition to the list. Very exciting; I can’t wait for those posts!

  3. Lynn Wyvill says:

    Thanks for recommending this book. It sounds like exactly what I’ve been looking for!

  4. Jan O'Hara says:

    There’s been a flurry of books which use neuroscience to explain particular aspects of human behavior, but I have to say this one would hit two sweet spots at once. Thanks for putting it (again) on my radar, Christi.

    And yeah, what Vaughn said. 😉

    • Christi Christi says:

      Oh definitely, this book would strike a chord with you from both sides, the medical and the creative. And, what a great addition for WU!

      • Jan O'Hara says:

        I read it on the weekend, and it helped me work through a plot point on which I’ve been stuck for a while. It’s a fabulous book, but now I’m particularly biased.

        • Christi Christi says:

          Cool, Jan! I was talking up the book this weekend again, too. I thought about loaning it to a friend but didn’t want to part with my copy. Not even for a second.

  5. Thanks for calling this book to my attention, Christi. I read the Kindle sample and then bought the book. I can’t wait to read it.

    • Christi Christi says:

      Cool, Linda. You’ll have to tell me how you like it, especially being of the panster-turned-semi-plotter persuasion like myself. I love reading these kinds of books and seeing how the information translates into writing new stories.

  6. Pingback: News & Noteworthy | Christi Craig

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