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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 ·  3,083 ratings  ·  464 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
Paperback, 262 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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4.21  · 
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 ·  3,083 ratings  ·  464 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
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.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was great. Borrowed from the library but could be handy to buy and keep as a reference.
Peter Gelfan
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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!
Oz Barton
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I understand why some people didn't like this book. It's not reinventing the wheel, guys. It's not a neuroscience book. If you go into this book with the expectation of what it actually is, I promise you won't be disappointed.

This book does not tell you how to write a wonderful sentence. It doesn't give step by step advice about how to create good dialogue. What this book does is tell you the ways in which the human brain is addicted to pattern recognition and what the brain thinks of as "payoff
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
What is about humans that make us love stories? Why do we react to them? Why are they important to our lives?

Lisa Cron answers these questions in Wired for Story, and gives writers a number of lessons on how to engage a reader, how to write a sympathetic character, and how to find the meaning of your story so your readers get it too.

Many of the concepts and chapters in this book helped me start thinking about my own stories and characters. However, in terms of usefulness to a writer, there's onl
Feb 18, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: want-to-own, writing
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
Steve Sanderson
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Want to know why humans are so interested in stories, why we get a hug kick when we find out what's going to happen next? This book will help you figure out why stories are important, and it'll show you how you can keep this in mind when you work on your own stories.

I'm editing one book and working on another, and Wired For Story has helped in both of these projects. The author's suggestions have helped me get rid of passages and sentences that don't work for the book, even if they were somethin
Francene Carroll
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very worthwhile and interesting book for writers at all levels. I gained a lot of insight into why some stories keep the reader glued to the page while others fall flat. Cron's argument that the brain has adapted to use stories to help us navigate the world and increase our chances of survival makes a lot of sense. There are so many excellent tips in this book that I'm not even going to attempt to summarize them. I've never used my Kindle highlighter so much before in one book! The only negati ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
"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
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
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