Monday, November 7, 2016

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Genre: Language/Writing
288 p.
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Published: 8/9/16
Source: Blogging for Books for review
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 thoughts:

While I don't think there is a lot of "brain science" (aka neuroscience) within the book, it does give a small introduction to the concept. This was the main reason I picked it up, but I was still not disappointed. I think she would have lost people with more science, but I still feel there needed to be a bit more.

I did like how she took a look at your average creative writing class and took apart what we have all been taught. She states that we are taught language but not storytelling. I have to say she is not wrong on that aspect. For example, story prompts are often "what if" examples (I remember these in grade school and high school) but the story doesn't often start there. With no background, no knowledge of what is motivating the character the story often lags and goes nowhere. In fact, it often skips the point of the story. As I was reading this section I saw that in reviewing books I do look for the point and not the "what if" aspect of the story. So, I think she was right on in this emphasis.

She did provide several story examples of what she was teaching but I found myself skimming these. They were often boring and just belabored the point rather than emphasized it. Still, I did like that she gave examples within the book.

I give this book 4 stars. While I wouldn't say it fixes the problems people have with writing a novel, it does fix some elements in creative writing that doesn't work. I think it really helps someone with an idea to start in developing a story. I highly recommend it to those that want to write or, like me, wanted a greater understanding of the process.

33 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to read more books about writing - particularly, outlining. I will always welcome a suggestion or a book that will direct me in the right direction. Thanks for reviewing this!

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    1. Well, this one isn't about outlining but it does have a section as to why that doesn't work for most people. :)

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  2. So interesting and I love that they are making things like this, thanks so much for posting about this, I'm sure there are a lot of people that will love reading this one.

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    1. I have seen a lot of people wanting to learn this and so I was curious... :)

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  3. I might have to pick this book up! I've been considering taking a creative writing class, but I'm unsure if I should. Might just have to pick up a few different books and see how that goes first :)

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  4. oh that's nice, it sounds different

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    1. It was. Sometimes I do like a book like this... I'm strange I know. :)

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    1. I think you'd actually like the way this one was written. :)

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  6. I am just impressed that you tackled this one!

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    1. On occasion I like to read things like this. I'm weird like that. :)

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    1. It is especially if you want to learn more about the process.

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  8. This is interesting, and I think when considering writing every but of advice helps.

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  9. This is kinda fascinating, Melissa. I'll have to see if my library has it. I hadn't thought about how storytelling wasn't taught - but I've always written them anyway. And I too am always looking for the deeper meaning in a story. :) Great review!

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    1. I think, if nothing else, this may give you a different perspective. :)

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  10. Beautifully considered review. I have several writer friends who I'm sure would find this book interesting.

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    1. Aw, thanks. I think they would find this one interesting indeed! :)

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  11. I love books on writing. I have tons of them though this one I had not seen. I will see if my library will get it for me :)

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  12. There really is a fine line with ones like this on going too science-y. Too bad it didn't have *quite* enough, though. Still sounds like an interesting read!

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    1. I get why it wasn't, it was a personal preference. :)

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  13. Hmm, I don't often pick up books that are instructional but this seems like an interesting read. Thanks for putting this on my radar, Melissa!

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  14. interesting, sounds like it might be worth reading if you are looking to be a writer or interested in.

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    1. It is... or like me just curious about the process. :)

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  15. I'm not a writer but I think these types of books are good to read even for reviewers. It's still good insight into the process and critiquing.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  16. I can understand skimming the boring parts, we all do that. But it still sounds like an interesting read!

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    1. It really was the examples I skimmed so no real biggie. :)

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  17. I used to aspire to be a writer but always discourage whenever I started writing my own story, but this book really sounds like an interesting read.

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