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Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,459 Ratings  ·  249 Reviews
This guide reveals how writers can utilize cognitive storytelling strategies to craft stories that ignite readers’ brains and captivate them through each plot element.

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 g
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Mar 25, 2013 Mignon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By the fourth page I had dug my highlighter out of my purse, and by page 10 I was dog-earring pages. I had started reading it while waiting for a doctor's appointment, and I was actually disappointed when the doctor finally showed up because I had to stop reading.

Lisa's insights about what makes a good story from her work in television and teaching are amazing, and the way she weaves in studies from neuroscience that explain *why* we like certain kinds of stories and elements gives it a level of
Aug 30, 2012 Bradley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been the best book on story writing that I've read that wasn't written specifically for screenwriters if it wasn't for the poor writing. It's as if the author has done little of it over the years and the book only got a proofreader rather than an editor. Because of that, I found it difficult to get through and had to force myself to read a chapter a day rather than a whole bunch at the same time.

Content-wise, the book is good, but it doesn't say anything new, although it reinforc
Jasmine Walt
Aug 07, 2012 Jasmine Walt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you can only buy one book on the craft of writing, let it be this one. I read it in a handful of days and there was so much stellar information I know I'll be reading it several times and making copious notes. If you're looking for a handbook that tells you about not using adverbs and avoiding dream scenes and all those other writers rules that everyone touts but hardly anyone knows why, then pass over it. But if you really want to know what story is about, and how to use it to hook your read ...more
Brigitte Staples
I define my editing skills by before and after I read 'Wired for Story' by Lisa Cron. Discovering why we want story - what lies beneath our fascination, what our brain is subconsciously looking for - my perspective on reading took a 180 degree turn after finishing this book.

'Wired for Story' reveals the psychology and neurology behind the mechanics of fiction, and shows how to harness this knowledge to create compelling writing, from hook to closing sentence. I admit, there were times I felt lik
Haley Whitehall
I read this book based on the recommendation of a fellow author. He said it was a must read. After finishing it, I believe it is a must read for beginning authors. I have done the writing conferences, online classes, critique groups, and read other books on writing. Wired for Story is different because it does take more of a scientific approach, but I found this approach confusing. I know internal vs. external conflicts, story plot, theme, cause and effect etc. Having these things explained in d ...more
Christi Craig
Jul 11, 2012 Christi Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve left pencil tracks in 80% of this book. That's how much I love it, and why this book has earned permanent status on my shelf of books on writing.

Story ideas, when viewed in a general way, are not unique. Nor are they very exciting. But, as Lisa Cron says in her book, story comes alive in the specifics. Throughout Wired for Story, Lisa takes a look at storytelling from the inside out, using research in neuroscience to focus on what makes a story work and to explain why a story works. She gi
Bruce Henricksen
Apr 25, 2013 Bruce Henricksen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wired for Story claims to apply neuroscience to the teaching of writing. Each chapter begins with a maxim derived form brain science and then explores its significance for the would-be writer. Unfortunately, that significance always turns out to be one of the old, familiar rules that writing teachers beat to death: hook the reader early, eliminate irrelevancies, and even the dusty one about showing not telling.

A much better book is Jonathan Gottschall's The Storytelling Animal. It actually delv
Lydia Sharp
Must-read for any writer/storyteller!

I'm predicting Wired for Story as the Next Big Thing in writers' guides. Not exaggerating, it will change the way you approach your storytelling. In fact, it has already helped me improve my own stories. I plan on reading it again and again. It's one of the few books I keep within easy reach in my writing space as a regular go-to guide.

My honest opinion-- I have not been paid in any way, monetary or otherwise, to endorse this book-- is that anyone who has a c
Kerry Allen
May 12, 2013 Kerry Allen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donated, never-again
This little gem on page 24 is a representative sample of the content of this book:

"Here's a disconcerting thought: marketers, politicians, and televangelists know more about story than most writers. That is because, by definition, they start with something writers often never even think about--the point their story will make."

If you're the "most writers" referred to, for whom writing is merely self-indulgent and self-gratifying creative masturbation, you might find something you don't already
Vaughn Roycroft
Dec 13, 2013 Vaughn Roycroft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only did this book change my perception of "story", it completely transformed my approach to writing. I used to say that if a new writer asked me what they could do before they began, my response would be to simply start. Now I would tell them: "Take a day or two studying Wired for Story. Then just start." It's one of a handful of writing books that I keep handy on my writing desk and refer to often. A must for any fiction writer's tool kit.
Apr 08, 2016 Bucket rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sensational subtitle makes it sound like one of those smarmy write-a-novel-in-30-days books, but don't be fooled. This is one of the most helpful fiction craft books I've ever read. It's devoted to the idea of 'story'--what makes a story, what people are 'wired' to look for and want in a story, and how to satisfy those cravings in your fiction. The 'brain science' part is presented in a very accessible way, and Cron only gives us enough information to make her point, never bogging down the r ...more
A fresh take on the art and craft of telling a good story. There is nothing new here, but it reinforces good practice and presents it in an engaging, action-oriented way. The science aspect is overblown-a gimmick that makes for a good tagline-but it doesn't get in the way of excellent advice. The Checklists at the end of each chapter are worth the price of admission.

There were elements, positions and opinions that made me twitch. At times I felt like I was reading the Starbucks business plan -
Blak Rayne
I subscribe to several blogs that post informative material for authors, and when one in particular recommended 'Wired For Story' by Lisa Cron, I thought I'd give it a shot. Aside from fiction, I do read educational books as well as view tutorials, and I always gravitate toward anything to do with writing and publishing. In the case of 'Wired For Story', I have to say it wasn't my favourite read, but it certainly wasn't the worst.

The book was helpful to an extent then it transitioned rapidly in
Feb 27, 2013 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like others, I thoroughly enjoyed the way Cron used popular movies (ie Die Hard, Gone With the Wind, Ferris Bueller's Day Off), books and otherwise to express her points. She has fantastic insights and brings a fresh perspective to the art of writing by tying into how it relates to the brain, especially the brain of the reader, and using how the brain works to write a better story.

Truly a good read filled with many, "that's clever," "I didn't know that," "what a great way to word it," and "I nev
Peter Gelfan
May 12, 2015 Peter Gelfan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book marks a convergence that has been a long time coming. For millennia, the craft of storytelling, which has been taught informally and formally by writers and other teachers, has consisted of handed-down principles and so-called rules whose origins lie in philosophy, experience, scholarship, pedantry, sarcasm perceived as wisdom, personal opinion, the necessity to construct marketable curricula, and the pithy utterances of great men and women. Some of this accumulated pile of craft is ce ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Rachel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, want-to-own
This guide reveals how writers can utilize cognitive storytelling strategies to craft stories that ignite readers’ brains and captivate them through each plot element.

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
Marina Finlayson
A fabulous book that manages to pull together in a marvellously succinct and logical way a whole bunch of things about story construction that I had grasped in an intuitive way, but it was wonderful to see them laid out so explicitly. I wanted to highlight insightful quotes on just about every page (except, you know, I'd feel guilty about defacing the book). Having these concepts tied back to the way the reader's brain works was really fascinating. A great book; highly recommended for writers.
Yzabel Ginsberg
May 08, 2013 Yzabel Ginsberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
"Wired for Story" might be disappointing if you're looking for deep, complex insights into scientific research, but otherwise hands out a lot of useful information, especially for those who're starting as authors, and are still hesitant, or lack knowledge, about what makes a good story. This said, I think even more seasoned writers may find it interesting, if only as a reminder of what they're already doing right.

This book isn't about writing well per se—it won't really help with grammar, spelli
Christine Locke
I'm not going to lie: a lot of the information here can be found in other books or in a writing class at your local junior college.
However, that being said, there's some very interesting information here given from the angle of brain science/psychology that's good to read if you're writing. It's always good for a writer to find new ways to keep the reader in mind. Also, something different about this book that was overlooked in reviews I read before buying it: there's a checklist at the end of e
One of the best books on writing out there. So many books focus on micro things, but this stays big picture and walks you through the things you have to do to tell a compelling story that readers respond to. I read a chapter a night and it was like taking an online class. Amazing insight. I feel like I have a much better grasp of what a story needs to do and be and why. The perfect read to follow The Writer's Journey. I am incredibly lucky to have such an awesome crit partner who recommends such ...more
Erin Lindsay McCabe
This book has been on my radar since I chanced upon it at Barnes & Nobel. I didn't buy it that day, but a few days later it was still on my mind and I went back to get it... And it was gone. Not long after that, I happened to listen to a Q&A session between Cron and book coach Jennie Nash, which focused on Cron's upcoming book Story Genius, which (I gather) is more of a guide/workbook based on the principles discussed here. It was the Q&A that convinced me I probably needed Wired for ...more
Anne Hamilton
Dec 11, 2013 Anne Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating book about the interaction of the brain with story. The challenge is to use the information to craft better fiction. As Cron points out - it's easy to tell when a story is well-written because it supplies all the things the brain craves. However, it's not so easy as an author to sculpt such a story because there's an innate conflict to preserve whatever words we can...
Moira Katson
Jun 14, 2015 Moira Katson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books about writing can be a little bit hit or miss. Often, the author's particular favorite piece doesn't align with your own, and the piece seems overly restrictive. Worse, there's the implicit assumption in a few books on writing that if you don't do things the same way as the author (plot exhaustively, fly by the seat of your pants, make color coded character sheets), your work will inevitably be a failure.

Lisa Cron largely avoids these pitfalls in "Wired for Story." She traces storytelling
Dec 16, 2013 Patti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-advice
Such an in depth study of why people love stories and how to incorporate that into our own storytelling. Wish I had read it years ago.
A must read for all writers of all genres.
Tonia Harris
Nov 16, 2014 Tonia Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure (as if that's the right word, but I'll leave it) of attending Cron's workshop at a recent conference, and meeting her in person. This book will change the way you write. I realized while reading this book and attending her workshop what an incredibly lazy writer I was before. Lazy in the sense that I squirmed through several rewrites trying to better understand not only my characters, but what the story meant/means to me as a human. Cron cuts through the bullshit and not only ...more
Bernie Gourley
There are countless books offering advice to writers. Some are good. Some are not. Good, bad, or ugly, few of these books offer anything new beyond particularly artful (e.g. humorous or poetic) explanations or superior examples. In other words, if you’ve read five writer’s guides you’ve read five thousand. Cron’s book is the rare guide worth a read even if you’ve read a hundred other such books. It’s not that Wired for Story offers radical or novel advice on story building (its writer’s tips are ...more
Yes, I’m rating this book as amazing. It seems as if it took me forever to get through it but honestly that is more my habit of trying to grasp the concepts and absorb the learning from the text. Cron has scientific evidence to support design strategies when writing stories. I argue that this works for both fiction and nonfiction. We are truly story seekers. We learn, grow and are entertained by stories. From our earliest age, we ask our elders “tell me a story.” As children, hopefully, we make ...more
Oct 19, 2013 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of how-to books on writing. The actual advice given in this one is not much different from what any (good) guide to writing will tell you. What's different about this book is that the author, Lisa Cron, connects that well-worn advice to research in cognitive science and human behavior in order to explain why good stories need to be that way, and why you have to make them so in order to grab a reader. That adds a fresh layer of interest to the large genre of how-to guides and ele ...more
Oz Barton
Dec 29, 2012 Oz Barton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There are so many goddamn books about writing. So, so many. Few of them are better than useless. A tiny, sparkling handful actually manage to be helpful in a real way. This is one of those shining few.

It's infinitely more useful than pretty much every other book out there that focuses on plot, because it teaches you instead to focus on story — and yes, it lays out exactly what it means by "story". Never vague, always insightful, it happily busts the most common myths and maxims about writing and
Leland Beaumont
Feb 17, 2013 Leland Beaumont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This is the book I have spent years searching for. This is the first book I have read that explains the process of storytelling. Lisa Cron has cracked the storytelling code and reveals its secrets.

Our brains actually are wired for story. Stories help us identify and remember what is most important, connect events, experiment safely, anticipate consequences, teach, play, and learn. A good story draws us in so completely that we become lost in the story and unable to know why it works. As a r
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“If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention.” 12 likes
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