More Books Writers Should Read—4. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story is a unique writing guide that utilizes brain science to show what readers want out of a story. Cron uses various psychological aspects to explain how to craft characters, plots, and conflicts in a way that will allow your readers to enjoy your story and want to keep reading it. She covers the development of a protagonist’s external and internal conflicts, the cause-and-effect trajectory of story, how specific details need to have relevance to the plot, and much more.

Wired for Story-More Books Writers Should Read

  • “From the very first sentence, the reader must want to know what happens next.”
  • “A story is how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal, and how he or she changes as a result.”
  • “Simply put, we are looking for a reason to care. So for a story to grab us, not only must something be happening, but also there must be a consequence we can anticipate.”
  • “To hold the brain’s attention, everything in a story must be there on a need-to-know basis.”
  • “Writers who can’t sum up a story they’re telling in a clearly focused, intriguing sentence or two probably haven’t written a clearly focused, intriguing story.”
  • “The story isn’t about whether or not the protagonist achieves her goal per se; it’s about what she has to overcome internally to do it. This is what drives the story forward.”
  • “Ultimately, what moves a story forward are the protagonist’s actions, reactions, and decisions, rather than the external events that trigger them.”
  • “Conflict must be palpable long before it rises to the surface. It’s the potential for conflict that gives urgency to everything that happens, underscoring even the most benign events with portent.”
  • “In short, ‘telling’ tends to refer to conclusions drawn from information we aren’t privy to; ‘showing,’ to how the characters arrived at those conclusions in the first place. Thus ‘show, don’t tell’ often means show us a character’s train of thought.”
  • “Constantly upping the ante gets the protagonist in shape, which is crucial, since the final hurdle he’ll have to sail over will be impossibly high. Thus the more you put him through before he gets there, the better.”
  • “The villain has to have a good side, however fleeting and minuscule. After all, no one is all bad. Or, if they are, they rarely see themselves that way.”
  • “Readers are always on the lookout for patterns; to your readers, everything is either a setup, a payoff, or the road in between.”
  • “All subplots must eventually merge into—and affect—the main storyline, either literally or metaphorically”

This is the last post in the More Books Writers Should Read series. If you know of other great writing guides, then tell me about them in comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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