Review (Book): Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron

Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First SentenceWired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are you a published author who either innately understands all aspects of writing a compelling story or has honed your storytelling skills to that point? Then this book probably won’t offer much to you and it will cover much of the same ground you have already traveled (but it might give you insight onto why what you do works).

Or are you, like me, an unpublished author who has followed all of the advice on story structure, pacing, hooks, conflict, and beautiful prose and yet still find your writing falling flat? Then, like me, you may find this book immensely helpful in uncovering the spark that’s missing from your work. This could very well be the final piece of your puzzle

This book is not an article from a peer-reviewed scientific journal, so don’t expect it to read like one on the topic of brain science. If you want to read scientific articles there is a bibliography at the back of the book and you can read the actual study results yourself. Of course, those results won’t make the connection between the results and the actual process of storytelling like this book does.

So what is this book? It’s a flashlight. This book takes concepts discovered in those scientific studies and uses them to shine a new light on the old and familiar rules of writing, to practically apply them, and to pull the most important part of a story (the internal journey) to the forefront where it belongs.

I’m an English Literature/Creative Writing major and a Librarian. I’ve taken courses and read countless articles, blog posts, and books on writing from well known, wildly successful authors over the years. Believe me, I am well aware of those old and familiar writing rules, but a lot of them just didn’t click. I’ve revised my novel so many times, I’ve harnessed it to a solid story structure, I’ve given it entertaining characters and a hook. but the story is still missing something. I now know what it is: My story is “a bunch of big, eventful, unusual things that happen,” but it has no internal impact on the characters.

“Why will the unavoidable conflict that’s going to blossom on page one matter to your protagonist? What will those things mean to her? What specific plan will they topple? What internal fear will they force her to confront? What long-held desire will they give her no choice but to go after?” – Wired for Story

It occurred to me, after years of toiling and learning, that my characters were not confronting an internal fear at all. There was no clear answer to “what does all of this mean to her?” To make it worse, the scenes are not logically harnessed to the ones that come before– stuff happens and the characters are along for the ride.

For me, Wired for Story was like a light being flipped on. I can see, plain as day, how I misunderstood or misapplied old writing rules and, more importantly, where my novel went wrong. Better, I am confident that I can fix a story that I once thought lost.

So, if you have “done everything right” and still find that your story is missing that special something, Wired for Story (and the follow up, “Story Genius”) might be just the ticket to unlocking your story’s true potential.



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