Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Word Witch Wednesday - hooray for Story Genius


I'm starting off the year reading an incredible book on writing from Lisa Cron called Story Genius. I don't think I've ever been this excited about a book on the craft. While other ones have inspired me, Cron has opened my eyes and changed how I write for the better.

It's difficult to find a book on writing for pantsers. Most are for plotters, and many insist that pantsers will never be able to write good stories. This raises my hackles. Comments like that will make me put a book down and never pick it up again. One of my idols, Stephen King, is a pantser. A fact I delightfully discovered only recently.

When I write, I have the protagonist already forming in my mind. I know where the story starts and where I want it to go. How it gets there is always a surprise, but I love it. I write organically. The opening event happens, and it all flows from there. Action, reaction. Consequence, reaction. Action, reaction. Consequence, reaction. The story drives itself for me that way.

So how does Cron's book help me when I just let it flow like that? She bases her book on neuroscience. Of course that interested me in itself, but when she explained stories with science, it clicked with me. It's not beautiful prose or a clever plot that makes for a good story (though those things are the cherries on top), it's how the story connects to the readers emotionally. More particularly, how the protagonist connects to the readers emotionally.

There are no detailed character bios or elaborate plotting to be done in Cron's exercises. She helps bring you to the core of your story with the essential elements that make up your protagonist.

I did this with my current trilogy and totally blew myself away. I discovered what drives my story. It was the core of my story all along! No wonder my protagonist gives me trouble. She was fighting it and I was fighting it. But now I know how to write it so it's a specific internal conflict instead of something I knew was there, but couldn't properly get on the screen.

I want to rattle on and on, but you'll just have to read the book for yourself. I highly recommend it.

Have you read any of Cron's books? Is there a book on writing that has affected you this way?

P.S. I'm so excited that in February, Lisa Cron will be writing a short article for the IWSG newsletter. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter, click here. You don't want to miss it!

And don't forget that next week is the #IWSGPit. Polish up your manuscript pitches! It's a great opportunity and free for all writers. I'll see you then!

30 comments:

  1. Wow, that's awful how so many books on writing diss pantsers like that. I've read drawing books that do the same to certain art styles, and I immediately lost respect for those authors. Glad you found one that deviates from that sort of elitism. Cron's book sounds like an excellent resource!

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    1. I don't understand why some authors feel the need to diss other types of writing or art styles. Just discuss your own, not why others are wrong.

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  3. I'm a pantser poet...I don't even know how a poem will end until I've written it! I've wanted to write a book and have a vague idea of a start and a character, but I've been reticent to "pantser it" out! Maybe I should check out this book and just start. It should finish itself!
    Glad I dropped by today!

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    1. Hopefully you'll find the book helpful. I'm glad you dropped by too. :)

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    2. I just ordered "Story Genius" and "Wired for Story"...almost did Kindle because I didn't want to wait. But decided I really would rather mark up a paper book! And I'm still a book smeller.

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  4. I'm a detailed plotter and her book sounds great.
    That is so awesome she will be contributing to the newsletter!

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    1. It might help as she differentiates between story and plot. I'm excited that she will be sending the IWSG an article too! :)

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  5. I've been a fan for years - my copies of STORY GENIUS and WIRED FOR STORY are totally marked up. In fact, I was using SG just this morning while working on my novella. :)

    Yeh she'll be contributing to the IWSG newsletter!

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    1. I borrowed the books from the library, but I'm definitely going to have to get my own copies. :)

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  6. I love Cron's books, especially Story Genius. It helped me solidified what I was trying to do with my current trilogy, and I plan to use the exercises when I plot out my next work.

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    1. That's awesome! They really helped to solidify my focus and give me direction. I can pants a plot, but story is more difficult.

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  7. I already know plotting and building character sheets, so that might be a good book to pick up.

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  8. Go pansters! I think this would be good for plotters too. I haven't read that yes, but it's now high on my list.

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    1. Oh yes, good for plotters too. Cron describes what pantsers have right and what plotters have right, and what they need to do to really hook writers.

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  9. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book on writing. It looks like we have very similar processes, even though I consider myself to be more of a hybrid writer. Each story is a little different, and I love being flexible like that. I used to take a lot of notes, and it drove me crazy. Now I just takes the notes I need - like a chart of hair and eye colors and a family tree (if needed). Sometimes I have maps. Whatever. I’ve never understood static writing advice. I do what I want. ^_^ Stephen King does what he wants. Doing the same has made me a better writer.

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    1. High five! I do the same. Every story is different.

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  10. Sold! I seriously think writing is ALL about psychology and have been trending that direction in recent years, but I'm all for a blow by blow on the actual science behind it.

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    1. This book will wow you with how it explains that psychology. It seems like common sense to me now and makes me wonder how I didn't see it so clearly before.

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  11. Looking forward to Lisa's article in the newsletter.

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  12. I have been on the fence about this book but you sold me. Looking forward the newsletter article.

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  13. Brain science and writing? I'm hooked. :) I just went and picked it up too. Thanks!

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  14. Sounds like a great book for pantsers. I'm glad you found a good one. We all have our own writing methods. What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another. It doesn't matter how we get the job done, as long as we get it done! Cool that Stephen King is a pantser.

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  15. Sounds interesting, but I recall being very dumb at science stuff in high school so I'm not sure how well that book would click with me.

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  16. I'm not a pantster-- at least not completely. I'm like you, I start with a beginning and an ending, then I make notes on things I want to happen in the middle. But I leave room open for changes and plot surprises. And I start with the idea that my character has to learn something-- I think that comes from high school English where stories had to have a theme.

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  17. Sounds interesting. I plot my book, but then I never seem to follow it and end being a pantser.

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  18. Hi Christine - thanks for letting us know about this book and in particular Lisa. Sounds like you're putting her ideas to good effect - cheers Hilary

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