I’m a TeachingAuthor, right?So, the Teacher and the Writer in me can combine their high opinions and enthusiastically award Lisa Cron’s WIRED FOR STORY (Ten Speed Press, July, 2012) two Thumbs Up!
Both parts of me were actively, indeed compulsively engaged while I read this book, subtitled “The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence.”
I’m happy to say: the book proved providential. I’d just begun what I hoped would be a final revision of a middle grade novel. Thanks to the beginning chapters, I instantly saw I still had Back Story to discover.
Maybe that fact explains why my copy of WIRED FOR STORY is now inked and yellow-marker-ed from cover to cover, the “Aha!’s” circled and starred, the turn-me-around explanations of and insights into key story elements underlined at least twice. Page corners are bent, both top and bottom.
Just to make sure I truly got these Story Truths - Truths now showcased in a whole new neuroscientific light, Truths I know cold and fervently teach, I first copied them into my Writer’s Notebook, next into my ongoing novel revision, then finally into the body of emails I sent several of my writers and students presently immersed in their storytelling and revisions.
As a teacher, I relentlessly remind my children’s book writers to think about their readers.Where are they cognitively, emotionally, chronologically?
What questions are they asking at the end of the chapter?
What keeps them caring and turning the pages?
But now, thanks to Lisa Cron and WIRED FOR STORY, I’ll exhort them to keep in mind their reader’s brain!
It’s wired, it turns out, to grasp the architecture of story; it’s wired to expect its necessary building blocks.
“Fire,” the author reveals, “is crucial to writing; it’s the very first ingredient of every story. Passion is what drives us to write……but there is an implicit framework that must underlie a story in order for that passion, that fire, to ignite the reader’s brain.”
Lisa Cron is an instructor at the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. She’s worked in publishing, as an agent, as a TV producer, as a story consultant for film.In other words, she’s a TeachingAuthor too.
And it shows.
The book illuminates “the intricate mesh of interconnected elements that hold a story together," while zeroing in on how the brain works.Its twelve-chapter organization is pure Show, Don’t Tell, from “How to Hook the Reader” to “What Does Your Protagonist Really Want?” to “Courting Conflict, the Agent of Change” to “Cause and Effect” to “The Road from Setup to Payoff” to “The Writer’s Brain on Story.”
Each chapter begins with a Cognitive Secret and a Story Secret. For instance, when digging up our protagonist’s inner issue, cognitively we see the world not as it is, but as we believe it to be. Story-wise, Cron tells us, we must know precisely when, and why, our protagonist’s worldview was knocked out of alignment.Each chapter ends with a summarizing Checklist usable at any writing stage.
Cron parcels out the techniques and tips in delicious bites that build logically, using familiar examples from literature, movies and television for further concrete explanation. Within each informational segment, she distinguishes between the Myth and the Reality.
Her tone is warm, friendly, personal, because she too is a writer who knows the challenges of story-telling.
Each chapter’s opening quote, many unknown to me, begs to be copied and shared.
Lisa now contributes to WriterUnboxed, a blog about the craft and business of fiction.Visit her website to learn more about her and WIRED FOR STORY.
And, Good News: YOU can enter to win an autographed copy of WIRED FOR STORY. Be sure to see the details below.
So, thank you twice, Lisa Cron.
The Writer in me now embraces her current revision more confidently, knowing the story parts my reader’s brain expects in order to live and breathe and care (!) inside my novel.
The Teacher in me now has a new gift to bear.
You must follow our TeachingAuthors blog to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. If you're not already a follower, you can sign up now in the sidebar to subscribe to our posts via email, Google Friend Connect, or Facebook Network blogs.
There are two ways to enter:
There are two ways to enter:
- by a comment posted below OR
- by sending an email to teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com with "Book Giveaway" in the subject line.
Just for the fun of it, see if your cortex is working. Along with your name, share the name of a part of your brain!Whichever way you enter, you MUST give us your name AND tell us how you follow us. If you enter via a comment, you MUST include a valid email address (formatted like: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com) in your comment. Contest open only to residents of the United States. Incomplete entries will be discarded.
Entry deadline is 11 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 (Central Standard Time). The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and announced on Sept. 26.