Book Review: Wired for Story

Wired for Story

Lisa Cron

Imagine knowing what the brain craves from every tale it encounters, what fuels the success of any great story, and what keeps readers transfixed. Wired for Story reveals these cognitive secrets–and it’s a game-changer for anyone who has ever set pen to paper.

The vast majority of writing advice focuses on “writing well” as if it were the same as telling a great story. This is exactly where many aspiring writers fail–they strive for beautiful metaphors, authentic dialogue, and interesting characters, losing sight of the one thing that every engaging story must do: ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next. When writers tap into the evolutionary purpose of story and electrify our curiosity, it triggers a delicious dopamine rush that tells us to pay attention. Without it, even the most perfect prose won’t hold anyone’s interest.

Backed by recent breakthroughs in neuroscience as well as examples from novels, screenplays, and short stories, Wired for Story offers a revolutionary look at story as the brain experiences it. Each chapter zeroes in on an aspect of the brain, its corresponding revelation about story, and the way to apply it to your storytelling right now.

As far as writing books go, I found this one to be quite useful.  Rather than talking about what makes a good story, Cron talks about why these elements make a good story, rooting her argument in neuroscience.

It’s a really useful exploration into storytelling since it takes that different approach.  There are many myths about writing I believed to be true, such as holding back on knowledge to surprise the reader, but are in fact counter-productive when you consider how the brains of the readers operate.

This is a really useful read for writers of any genre.  I think erotica often comes across as a slap-dash effort that takes minimal skill.  Unfortunately, there are some writers who approach this genre (and, really, any genre) with that attitude, and it shows.  A good writer doesn’t have to write perfectly.  A good writer is someone who constantly strives to improve their craft.  This should be one of the required readings for any writer learning the craft or pursuing improvement.

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