Following on the heels of Lisa Cron’s breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story.
It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite.
The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think).
In Story Genius Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.
**I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
When it comes to writing, I certainly identify as a plotter. In fact, I probably even get more enjoyment out of plotting a novel then I do the actual writing of it. But, I do look to the other side of the spectrum and I have a lot of respect for those who identify themselves as pantsers. When I heard of Lisa Cron’s new book, Story Genius, I was intrigued with what she might have to say in this book of a method that falls in between. Not to mention, that I also believe that writing is a craft in which you can always learn more. You can borrow techniques from coaches, teachers, or other writers and make them your own. Often, I find that writing books can always offer up something to learn to improve your own writing.
However, I did discover some overall pros and cons to this book.
The Good: Cron’s book has a lot of wonderful actions for you to do. Things from nailing down the point of your story to developing key moments. The best thing is, these are done with the story you want to write in mind. They aren’t meaningless tasks, but something you can write and actually use in your novel.
She also makes a lot of good points about structure and what things work in a story and why. The key points of the book are valuable things to make note of and use.
The Not-So-Good: I found Cron to be very wordy. This is not a very short book and there are a lot of places that it begins to feel like she is just repeating herself over and over. I don’t mind this to some degree, but I often found myself skimming things to get to the next major point or to avoid rereading what I had already heard.
The other thing, was just the overall organization of the book. Because there is so much here, I think this book will be hard to go back and use as a reference tool in the future. So, if you opt to pick this one up, it’s probably going to be worth the time to take good notes from it of the things you would use.
Overall, this won’t be the last writing book I pick up for my shelf, nor is it a book that is going to replace any that I already have. However, I think it does deserve a spot there, and it is a resource I am confident I will go back to.