Okay, I actually read some of my non-fiction TBR stack. Books about stories, writing, and motivation specifically. Perhaps I should mention I’m a book hoarder, er collector, I’m a book collector. Because I collect so many books (fiction and non-fiction—however right now I’m referring to my non-fiction collection—the bookshelves on the left in the photo) it takes me a while to actually read them. That doesn’t seem to slow down my acquisition of new books, however, that’s a story for another day.
|My library (AKA living room)|
|Non-fiction TBR (stacks 1 & 2)|
When I do read I tend to binge read, one of my favorite activities to avoid housecleaning, laundry, and the dishes (only if hubby is on the road, otherwise he has dish duty). I started with Wired for Story.
(As a quick aside, Lisa Cron presents The Craft of Story in a Lynda.com video that is an excellent addition to her book.) One of the tantalizing things that hooked me on this particular work is the role neuroscience has had on how we learn and interact with the world around us (I’m an Instructional Designer in my day job so I am all about learning). As Lisa puts it “…our brain is hardwired to respond to story…story is how we make sense of the world.”
As authors, and devout readers, this should come as no great surprise, but it is nice to learn the science behind our gut feelings on the subject. Lisa makes it clear it’s all about the story. As writers, story comes first, craft second. Before you dig out your pitchforks and light any torches, I must say I’ve read many a story that could have used better editing, the author could have done a better job with point of view and her descriptions, but I hung in till the very end because the story made me care what happened next. While I would say it was the characters that made me keep reading, Lisa says it is curiosity that kept me turning the pages. And while better attention to craft would have made for a better read, I finished the book. I can’t say that for a (too) large number of books I stop reading before I even finish the first chapter—not just because they were poorly written (some weren’t at all) but because I just didn’t care—apparently the story was missing!
Lisa says “…there is an implicit framework that must underlie a story…to ignite the reader’s brain.” Or as she goes on to state, “We won’t put up with a bad story for three seconds.” Hmm, apparently I’m more tolerant for some reads than others since I usually try to read the first chapter, then again, I’ve also quit reading at the first line or two.
But recognizing a good story and being able to craft one is not so simple.
Brain science shows our brains react to stories the same as real-life. In other words, our brains willingly evoke the suspension of disbelief and it becomes real. Wired addresses how our brains perceive story and how, as writers, we can tap into those hardwired expectations. The chapters delve into hooking your reader, zeroing in on the point of your story, determining your character’s feelings, desires, and inner issues, delving into specifics, conflicts, and what must go wrong. She saved the best advice for last—reminding writers that the harder we try, the more likely we are to screw it up. That probably sums up the frustration writers go through when they try to apply all their newly-learned craft lessons. And why they feel like it was easier to write before they knew all those rules. Which is true. Fortunately, there is a cure—but you’ll need to read Wired for Story to learn how.
|Non-fiction TBR (stacks 3,4, & 5)|
So, have you experienced any good stories lately?