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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
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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
About the Author
LISA CRON is the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius. Her TEDx talk, Wired for Story opened Furman University's 2014 TEDx Conference, Stories: The Common Thread of Our Humanity. Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and Court TV, and as a story analyst for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency. Since 2006 she has been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, and she is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA Program in Visual Narrative in New York City. She is a frequent presenter at writers conferences, universities and schools nationwide, and in her work as a story coach Lisa helps novelists, screenwriters and journalists wrangle the story they want to tell onto the page.
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I saw the negative three or fewer star comments and can only think the commentators didn't see what the author was actually trying to convey. It's a classic lesson in the KISS method (keep it simple stupid) and I loved it.
This isn't a full-on, in-depth analysis of every part of the craft of writing, as many seemed to expect, that would take 12 full books or more. This is also not only for beginners as some suggest. To them I would say, don't let hubris cloud your ability to write better--think beyond that--read the book again. I think the book serves as an excellent reference to keep us on track when we lose the plot, so to speak.
Seasoned writers can get quite jaded and write almost on auto-pilot at times--not good. Thank you, Ms. Cron, for putting me back on track and making me excited to re-write and re-edit my latest book, my first YA fantasy, for the zillionth time. I was out of my comfort zone with this book and feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure. Wired for Story has me fired up to go forth and do this.
I highly recommend this book, especially for seasoned writers.
So: Should Joe have bacon or kippers for breakfast? Not a world-shaking or life-changing choice.
Except... what if choosing bacon meant that Joe would soon be in a battle for his life, because of a mutated pestilence that had infected the swine from which the bacon was made? To catch the reader's attention, the story must show right from the beginning the serious nature of Joe's breakfast choice, and then incorporate the consequences in a way that rewards the expectant reader.
According to Cron, it isn't the obviousness of the dilemma, but the way it is presented—the way it is written—that absorbs that survival skill in the brain, and rewards the ardent listener to a well-told story.
Where it succeeds is in its brevity and clarity. The author gets right to the point and even provides short lists at times of what to do and how to do it. Her writing is also peppered with cheeky humor which is humorous in a thats-almost-funny kind of way that is refreshing compared to the textbook style adopted by many how-to-write books.
Where the book fell down, for me, was in its limited examples and scope. It really felt like the author was addressing romance writers, for the most part. I could think of a few counter examples to some of her rules, although one would have to leave the romance genre for those to work. But for a 230 page book, that is minor discrepancy.
The second thing I noticed, which has already been pointed out by others, is that the brain science was limited. In fact, it was mostly only refereed to in footnote. Personally, that was fine with me, but I could see why it made others feel misled (it is in the title, after all).
Extraordinary--and somewhat frightening-- to be re-reading this book in the week's following the 2016 election. The deeper into the book I get, the more real the political articles and memes become.
I read this book twice, with a several month break inbetween. Curiously enough, I liked it much better the second time when I was actively taking notes. There is much practical advice here and taking "Wired for Story" seriously will help you keep your audience in mind. By looking at how and why readers engage with the written word, Lisa Cron was (probably unintentionally) in the forefront of research currently being done by e-book publishers who are studying how many readers actually finish the best-sellers they have downloaded versus readers' completion rate of other e-books.
Cron begins each chapter with two thought-provoking ideas. Examples:
" Cognitive Secret: The brain is wired to stubbornly resist change."
" Story Secret: Story is about change, which results from unavoidable conflict."