Story Genius (If You Want To Write A Novel, Read This Book)

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There was a time when I wanted to try to write a novel.

That was a long time ago.

I shelved the novel idea because 1) I don't have the time, and 2) I really like the idea of reading novels better than writing them.  However, there is still a little part of me that is interested in the process of writing novels.  I've read enough of them at this point that there is a stark difference between a novel I am just plodding through and one that really grabs me - and when I get one of the latter, I always wonder "how did the author do that?"

Well, I think I finally understand a little bit about why certain novels are more compelling, thanks to Story Genius: How To Use Brain Science To Go Beyond Outlining And Write A Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron.  This book is written to aspiring novelists who are trying to really nail down their story and make it compelling.  Cron takes you through the process of identifying the underlying message of your novel, finding a "what if?" that will drive your story, and developing your characters so that everything they do involves a defined past that has an effect on the protagonist's current predicament.  She includes practical advice with her "Scene Card" system to help budding authors to think three-dimensionally and really layer all the aspects of their story together.

The author does go on a little side tangent in the first chapter about how stories helped us survive, evolutionary-speaking...I don't believe the theory of evolution, so I thought some of that chapter got annoying.  But you could pretty much skip the first chapter and be no worse for wear.

Also be aware that there is some language in this book, including the f-word in one of the example story scenes.

I'm still not planning on writing a novel, but now I find myself reading fiction in a whole new way.  It is interesting to think about past books that I've read and found really compelling, and to think about the way those authors applied some of these same concepts that Cron talks about in this book.  Warning though: reading this book may ruin you for underdeveloped stories or mediocre fiction!  I really enjoyed seeing the complexity behind writing a really good novel, and it makes me appreciate all the work and thought that goes into the books I read.  Very interesting, and if you are not like me and actually DO want to write a novel, I think this book would be of great value to you.

Note: I received a copy of Story Genius for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.
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