Sunday, August 28, 2016

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

book cover
Story Genius
by Lisa Cron

ISBN-13: 9781607748892
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Story Genius is a foolproof program that saves writers from penning hundreds of pages only to realize that something's not working and they have to start again. Informed by story consultant Lisa Cron's science-based insights into how story structure is built into the architecture of the brain, this guide shows writers how to plumb the nitty-gritty details of their raw idea to organically generate a story scene by scene. Once writers reach the end of Cron's program, they will have both a blueprint that works and plenty of compelling writing suitable for their finished novel--allowing them to write forward with confidence.

My Review:
Story Genius is a guide on how to create powerful, character-driven stories using the Story Genius writing system. If you expect a lot of brain science, you'll be disappointed. The author only referred to a couple of studies. Instead, she resorted to speculative stuff, saying, "Evolutionarily speaking, our brain is wired..." followed by a story about what advantage we might have gotten from telling stories.

She believes that all powerful stories are ultimately character-driven, so she has you start your story creation with the character rather than a plot. She takes you step-by-step through deciding what the story is about, what your main character desires, and the misbelief that prevents him/her from gaining that desire. From there, you come up with what happens scene by scene to force the character to re-evaluate that misbelief. She described each step, then she had a fiction author--who is coming up with her next story--write that step to demonstrate it.

This system will prevent your book from wandering around aimlessly, full of filler scenes. Overall, I think a person could successfully follow this Story Genius system. It seems best suited for literary writing. She didn't really show how it might be used in genre fiction, where some genres are expected to contain very specific plot elements (which runs counter to her purely character-driven system). However, she does give some good advice on how to come up with a strong story and this can be used in any case.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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