Today marks the 8th Blogiversary of our TeachingAuthors story!
What better way to celebrate eight by thanking you, our Readers, with a Book Giveaway of Lisa Cron’s STORY GENIUS.
In my Two Thumbs Up review that follows, I share Lisa’s insistence that if a story is to help the reader navigate his world, the writer must fully know his characters: their wants, their needs, and the why’s behind them, but also their worlds and what they rightly – or wrongly - believe.
Here’s hoping that in thinking about our Readers in similar fashion, we’ve not only eased your travels these past eight years as you tell your stories. Here’s hoping we’ve been both your arm and umbrella as April so beautifully described in her April 21 poem “Taxi Waiting.”
I offer my sincere thanks, too, to my fellow TeachingAuthors “villagers” who’ve kept me blogging, teaching, authoring and keepin’ on since April 22, 2009: Jill Esbaum, Jeanne Marie Grunwell-Ford, JoAnn Early Macken, Carmela Martino, Carla Killough McClafferty, Bobbi Miller, Laura Purdy Salas, Mary Ann Rodman and April Halprin Wayland.
Help us blow out our “One-is-for-Good Luck” candle by entering the Book Giveaway that follows my TWO THUMBS UP review.
TWO THUMBS UP REVIEW: STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron (Ten Speed Press, 2016)
Author and Story Coach Lisa Cron has done it again, offering the TeachingAuthor in me an eye-opening, thought-provoking look at STORY vs. WRITING.
You got that right: STORY vs. WRITING. As I often tell my students and writers, there’s the story, and then there’s the way we choose to tell that story to our intended audience.
STORY GENIUS takes that truth to a whole different level, making the case and showing readers that fully knowing and investing in a character’s BACK STORY before his current story ever begins enables the story – i.e. the external plot – to write itself.
Forget pantsers, Lisa Cron advises - those writers who hope to discover story by writing blindly to the end.
Forget recommended unsuccessful first drafts.
Even forget external structure models.
When seeking to tell your story, remember only: stories begin “in the middle,” in medias res, and you can’t have an after without a before.
STORY GENIUS underscores what Lisa Cron considers the two parts of writing a story – two parts I came to think of as two halves: the protagonist’s Inner Story and the External Gauntlet that spurs the protagonist’s inner struggle.
In the first half’s six well-organized chapters that build upon each other, she shows us how to dig deep to learn a protagonist’s inner workings. We move from an idea to the phrasing of a What if? question to our story’s Who, Why and Worldview, in which our protagonist’s burning desires and misbeliefs are plumbed and explored. Finally we reach the When that brings our protagonist to an offer he can’t refuse – i.e. the point in the middle where the storytelling begins.
It’s in the second half that STORY GENIUS’ blueprint system emerges, allowing for a “scene-by-scene progression that begins with a now-known opening.
Scene Cards are the vehicle, noting the cause and effect of the external plot and what Lisa Cron calls The Third Rail or internal plot, the piece our brains crave.
Think: What happens? What are the consequences?
Think: Why it matters? What’s the realization? And so?
I found the chapter on Subplots (The Secret to Layering) especially helpful, putting forth subplots as “an integral story layer that, once exposed, sheds light on the surface meaning.”
That exposure, of course, comes from digging deep in the first half.
Throughout STORY GENIUS, “What to do” exercises follow each teaching point, inviting us to try our hand.
But even better, Lisa Cron offers a pure “Show, Don’t Tell” example of each point by sharing her friend Jenny Nash’s step-by-step evolution of her novel from the first inkling of her idea to actual scenes.
Lisa Cron is an engaging Narrator and indeed, TeachingAuthor. She knows personally, from years of story coaching and writing, the obstacles we confront when trying so hard to tell our good stories well. In STORY GENIUS, she shares real life situational examples that comfort and console while offering concrete examples from contemporary and classic books, movies, tv and plays that illuminate her teaching points.
WIRED FOR STORY, which you can read about here, WOW-ed me in unexpected ways. STORY GENIUS is the perfect sequel, building on Lisa Cron’s neurologically-based story tenets.
You can read more about Lisa Cron, her books and how to subscribe to her newsletter here.
. . . . . . . .
OUR BLOGIVERSARY BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Now for some celebratory gift-giving! To enter our new drawing for a chance to win a copy of Lisa Cron’s STORY GENIUS, use the Rafflecopter widget below. You may enter via 1, 2 or all 3 options.
If you choose option 2, you must leave a comment on today’s blog post below or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. We’d love to know, by the way, what topics and themes you’d like us to feature in upcoming posts. If you haven’t already liked our Facebook page, please do so today! If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.
Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.
Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, you must still enter the drawing via the widget below. The giveaway ends May 5, 2017 and is open to U.S. residents only.
P.S. If you’ve never entered a Rafllecopter giveaway, here’s info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.
a Rafflecopter giveaway