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Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence Paperback – July 10, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 221 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

As both a publishing veteran and a TV pro, Lisa Cron knows storytelling. In Wired for Story she shares her fascinating psychological approaches to the craft. Her fresh way of looking at the core essentials of writing has our neurons firing. 
- Writer's Digest


. . . how can you craft a story compelling enough to keep readers turning the pages deep into the night? The answer lies in a new book linking writing to neuroscience, Lisa Cron's Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science.
- Arnie Cooper - Poets & Writers

Lisa Cron's Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence is relentlessly interesting because it reveals how our brains perceive and process stories and narratives.  Ms. Cron walks the writer through the mental architecture of a story, patiently revealing what works and what doesn't and why. She writes with clarity and humor about elementary things every writer could profit from revisiting under her auspices. Who would have thought anyone could make the intricacies of brain science accessible?  
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
“We all love a good story but most of us struggle to write them. Lisa Cron enlightens us as to how to get the job done in a savvy and engaging way.”
—Michael Gazzaniga, neuroscientist and director of the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Story guru Lisa Cron unlocked my last novel for me over lunch, but if you can’t have her by your side when you’re wrestling your manuscript, the next best thing is this smart, funny, genius book about the myths, realities, and brass tacks of story. Packed with innovative tips and techniques, it's as essential to any writer as a laptop, and much more fun.”
—Caroline Leavitt, author of New York Times best seller Pictures of You

“Wired for Story reveals that stories are not only a metaphor for human striving and survival, but they are also the means by which the brain ensures that we survive. Lisa Cron translates the latest neuroscience into a master guidebook for how to write engaging, meaningful, and moving stories.”
—Elizabeth Lyon, author of Manuscript Makeover
 
“As a story consultant for business executives as well as artists, I am always searching for ways to convey the skill set involved in constructing a story. Wired for Story presents basic principles for harnessing the natural power of the brain to recognize and create stories in a way that is inspiring and entirely helpful.”
—Murray Nossel, PhD, founder of Narativ Inc.
 
“Remember when Luke has to drop the bomb into the small vent on the Death Star? The story writer faces a similar challenge of penetrating the brain of the reader. This book gives the blueprints.”
—David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

About the Author

LISA CRON spent a decade in publishing—first at W.W. Norton then at John Muir Publications—before turning to television, where she’s been supervising producer on shows for Showtime and Court TV. She’s been a story consultant for Warner Brothers, the William Morris Agency, Village Roadshow, and Icon; an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency; and is featured in Ask the Pros: Screenwriting. Lisa is an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607742454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607742456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I've read a lot of books on writing, and this has been the most useful. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy in galley form. I liked it so much, I bought an extra copy to share with others. The book is chockablock with original, sharp and accessible advice that could make all of us far more powerful at telling our stories. I measure a book by the number of underlines and dog-ears I make (handy for referencing the parts to reread), and this one is a marked up mess. That's a good thing.

If you have a story that isn't quite hanging together or is dragging in spots or is feeling stuck, this is the book for you. It will help you put your finger on why - and walk you through what to do about it.

Wired for Story has helped me fix so many things that I knew weren't quite working in my draft novel. That's critical, because as Lisa Cron has written, "Have you ever gone into a bookstore, pulled a novel off the shelf, glanced at the first page and thought, `You know, this is kind of dull, and I can't tell what it's about, but I'm sure the author tried really, really hard, and probably has something important to say, so I'm going to buy it, read it, and recommend it to all my friends?'" The answer is, of course not. That's why you need Wired for Story. It helps you write the kind of book someone will pull of the shelf and never want to put down.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a new writer. I had a first draft and was editing it when I saw this book being discussed in the forum. I bought it on kindle and after each chapter I read I went back and checked my first draft. I found I had a lot of rewriting to do. The check list at the end of each chapter was a big help. I am not knowledgable in the quality of self help writing books but as a beginning author I would recommend this book. Its a very easy read and very clear.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're at the very very beginning of your writing process, the lessons in the book might be of use to you, but you should know that this information is available in countless other books and online.

And, sure, there's no foul in providing the very basics, but wrapping it in the dubious claim of "brain science" shows this book for what it is, gimmicky and basic. But don't take it from me, read the table of contents. There are 11 (very) basic ideas here, essentially a pamphlet worth of information padded into 200 pages (with a twelfth chapter that uses 30 pages to essentially say, "practice makes perfect."

If you're looking for basics, you'll do just as well (for cheaper) with Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes or Writing Fiction Step by Step and Fiction Writer's Workshop. If you've been writing for awhile, and are looking for a good plotting book, you'll likely do better with Plot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish) (Write Great Fiction) or Elements of Fiction Writing - Plot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found a few memorable nuggets here and there. But mostly it was common sense laced with some tidbits from science to make it seem more substantial. One reviewer here warned everyone to brace themselves for the amazing ending. What a letdown.

I liked the some of the myths she addresses. These were highlight for me. For example all books need suspense and page-turning appeal, even literary novels. I believe it. Another: learning how to tell stories is more important than writing finely-crafted prose. Quite plausible. I also like where she explains the truth meaning of the old adage: show don't tell. You need to explain why people are feeling that way and not just show their reaction.

I also think her advice on stringing together cause and effect with setups and payoffs is very important, but for me it was just a reminder and doesn't require an understanding of brain chemistry. She has some good quotes but a lot of her scientific references left me scratching my head. Sometimes she forces quotes into places that are out of context and not in support of her point.

I was hoping to get some insights from science so I could learn to hook the reader psychologically. But it's more like she is using science to prop up common-sense material you would find in any basic class or book on writing. Possibly, she is sprinkling quotes from smart people in order to make herself sound smarter.

I appreciated specifics from works like "Gone with the Wind" and even "Die Hard." Most of the time, however, she makes up scenes with Sue and Peter in some ad hoc scene. Usually I got her point, but it seems kind of lazy to make up silly stories when she could be drawing examples from actual books.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't read this book unless you want to touch hearts and minds and move people. Lisa Cron has cracked the code on why stories matter, how your brain processes narrative, and most importantly how to craft a compelling and unforgettable story of your own.

I've gone to the McKee seminars, I've read Vogler and Truby. But I don't think I really began to understand the alchemy of storytelling until i got my hands on this book.
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