31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Wired for Story

Wired for StoryWired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First SentenceWired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron by Lisa Cron

My usual tactic when I’m trying to learn something new to is read a mountain of books about a topic, and then attempt it. I’m currently in the stage of “read a mountain of books” about writing, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one, and how much I learned.

Cron does a fabulous job of explaining the latest brain science research and how it relates to writing. Why are stories so captivating? What makes a book so compelling that a reader is completely unable to put it down?

I was concerned that the book would be formulaic, and over-the-top, emphasizing over-the-top action à la a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead Cron explains why some of those blockbusters work, and how writers can use that knowledge for their own stories. No explosions, alien invasions, or other special effects extravaganzas required.

You don’t need to be a screenwriter or novelist to learn from Cron’s book. Any sort of writing should be interesting and compelling enough to make the reader want to turn the pages and continue with the book.

Publisher’s Description:
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.

31 Days of Great NonfictionMy other favorite writing books?

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. I have heard so much good stuff about King’s On Writing. I need to make time to read it. I have found these types of books to help with my writing (surprising, I know). I read The Elements of Style at the beginning of this year, and it was a great read. The book focuses on grammar for the most part, but it has helped tighten my writing.

    • I need to read The Elements of Style. My grammar knowledge is mostly picked up from reading good books, so there are areas where it’s weak. Sometimes moving around a lot as a child means lots of weird gaps in your education, and for me it’s grammar-related.

      King’s fiction writing is not my taste at all, and I still loved his writing book. My only hesitation on recommending it more highly is because of some of the language.

      • The Elements of Style is an amazing book. Make sure you read the one that is written by Stunkard and White; apparently there is a version of the book without White and it is not as good. Some of the writing suggestions are incorrect now, because language is ever evolving; however, there were a ton of wonderful writing tips in this book. It is the best 100 pages you will read. I recommend this book to folks all the time.

        • Thanks for the tip on the version – I’ve got it on my list, but will double check that I’ve listed the right one.

  2. Bookmarked the page for reference — I loved Bird by Bird. Wired looks good.

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