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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,918 ratings  ·  595 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Ten Speed Press
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  3,918 ratings  ·  595 reviews

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Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jasmine Walt
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you know me at all, you know that I strongly disagree with most "writing advice." Not because I think authors are wrong in the way they write -- but as part of human nature, we will always transfer information that is relevant to us and us alone. For instance, if you pick up a book called "How To Write A Novel" by P.G. Krolmeister, you're not going to learn how to write a novel. You're going to learn how P.G. Krolmeister writes a novel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this! It's just t ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Douglas Wilson
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wordsmithing
Really good stuff in this one.
Bruce Henricksen
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Kerry Allen
May 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Haley Whitehall
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Brigitte Staples
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Christi Craig
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Patrick Adekunle
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Recall what we've said about stories: they are the brain's virtual reality, allowing us to benefit from the experience of hard-pressed protagonists."

I couldn't agree more.

In this book, Lisa Cron masterfully breaks down the elements of narrative fiction. I particularly love how she elaborates on each of these elements by using cases from popular films and novels; in my opinion, the best way to understand something conceptual is to see it in practice.

I'm happy I made the decision to read thi
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Well, it took me a very long time to read this. I think the bulk of the interesting psychological tips are at the start of the book, the first half. Full of wonderful lines such as: "Before there were books, we read each other." Love that. Cron delves into brain science as it relates to the craft of writing. Those parts are a 5. The rest seems to be filler for me. I began highlighting in the beginning, then stopped. However, still was wroth the read to learn more about the science of storytellin ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Very interesting. Loved the research and insight.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for any writer. I don't think I've ever highlighted so many things from a book before. ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had originally given this book a 1/5. After much thought and debate, I realize that this book simply was just not for me. However, that being said, just because it is not for me doesn't mean that it is not worth reading. While attending a book club last night concerning the book itself many opinions were brought out including my own fairly negative experience. What came out of the book club meeting was a better understanding that while I think of myself as a confident writer, others do not. Ot ...more
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
Vaughn Roycroft
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Sep 19, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Who am I kidding? I’m not going to finish this.

She lost me in the first chapter when she said prose doesn’t matter – only story. ARRGGGGHHH! Sure, it’s a great song, don’t pay any attention to the fact the orchestra is out of tune, screeching away. A style that sets my teeth on edge is not going to keep me reading, no matter how great the story. Maybe it’s just me, but the sound and rhythms of good writing is what keeps me engaged every bit as much as story. Inferior writing distracts and even
Holly Walrath
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-is-hard
This book has really made me rethink how I approach my writing. It uses helpful tips from Brain Science to get you thinking about how readers read. I wish more writers read this book before writing! It really simplifies the simple elements of story and why we find reading so enjoyable.
Julie Christine
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 -
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was good enough to check out twice, and I still plan to check it out again, once I've finished re-drafting my new outline. Once I finish my new protagonist. This book led me, I believe, to realize that the protag. I wanted to use for my #wip is not the right character for this particular story.
Cron uses fascinating brain research to explain both the psychology of reading, and even how the writer's brain works, and how all of this applies to writing a story. I highly recommend it, and
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing, 2013
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
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A more cohesive review at a later date and at a different time but while the advice in this book is solid, the kind of books that will be written following said advice will be formulaic. It doesn't take joy in the art of the craft but is slave to the story. While story is indeed important, I would argue that so are the accoutrements of a story. ...more
Kimberly Sabatini
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft-of-writing
*The second time around was just as helpful!

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE the way Lisa Cron thinks about story. He approach feels so organic and true. Can't recommend her books enough!
Candice Bundy
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An engaging take on writing from a neuroscience perspective on how readers seek engagement and how to hook them into your story. Very approachable!
Laura Joakimson
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
Between 3-4 stars.

There were many things about this book I liked. Which I will list below. But I thought it was weak on the brain science I was hoping for. And her examples of good stories was quite limited and whitecentric. Die Hard was referenced repeatedly as the perfect story. And Gone with the Wind was admired without reference to why it’s racially problematic. This undercut the author’s authority on what makes a good story.

The key concepts of the book—on storytelling— I appreciated. I li
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"If I ask you to think about something, you can choose not to. If I make you feel something, now I've got your attention."

I've highlighted, underlined, and dog-eared something on almost every page in this book. What a treasure for the new novelist!

Lisa Cron writes in an incredibly easy-to-read way, and uses stories and excerpts to illustrate her points. She does pull on the "science" behind reader responses, but more than that I think she just lays out a pretty straightforward blueprint for ho
Elizabeth Guillemette
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I used this book for a seminar class to help with my writing. I liked that the advice for writing was based on brain science and there was also lots of discussion of stories and characters that would be useful in teaching and discussing stories with students as well.
Sara Cardon
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
I liked how she walked writers through the elements we crave in stories. The check points are spot on. She makes a case that it's not enough for writers to recognize a good story when they read but to learn how to craft a good story. The suggestions and examples are helpful and provide areas a writer can delve into to really understand (probably through another source since they're covered in an overview way in this one). It's a good refresher book as well as helpful for new writers. ...more
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Lisa Cron is a story coach, speaker, and the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius. Her TEDx talk, Wired for Story, opened Furman University’s 2014 TEDx conference. Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton and John Muir Publications, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and Court TV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the Wi ...more

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