Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wired for Story

I am a writer.
I am also a scientist.

And when the two combine, I am ecstatic.

I recently read Wired For Story by Lisa Cron. The subtle is “The Writer’s Guide to Using Brian Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence.”

She hooked me with the subtitle!

Science has discovered we think in story. We are hardwired to take in data and make sense of it best when in the form of a story. 

“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and so prepare for it—a feat no other species can lay claim to, opposable thumbs or not. Story is what makes us human, not just metaphorically but literally. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience reveal that our brain is hardwired to respond to story; the pleasure we derive from a tale well told is nature’s way of seducing us into paying attention to it.”

The neurotransmitter dopamine, for pleasure, is triggered through curiosity. We feel pleasure via the brain’s reward system that pulls us forward through the story because we have to find out what happens. Because we could learn lessons that can help us in our own lives.

Stories give us meaning to our experiences in life.

Each chapter shares something from brain science then applies that insight to storytelling. For example we think best in specific images rather than abstract.  Thus a writer shows, not tells and makes whatever conflict the character is experiencing very tangible.

Checkpoints summarize each chapter making for an easy read and quick reference.

Also included are some great quotes like:
Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience.”
Alfred North Whitehead.

The scientist in me loved applying research to one of my passions, storytelling. The scientist in me craved more detailed info than the book offered, but then again most writers aren’t scientists either.

The writer in me loved the good review of the essential ingredients of the story.

And a fun reason to read this book? You could impress your friends with a new expertise in neuroscience!

What good books about writing have you read lately?

3 comments: said...

I am impressed!!! This is certainly not the "story" for a commposition/literature teacher. Love all the ideas you put into story. Clella

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

This sounds fascinating to me! I'm no scientist, but I've often said that if I were, it would be brain science that I'd want to study. And of course, I'm a HUGE fan of story. I just went to our library site and placed a hold on this book! Thanks, Jeanie.

Jean Wise said...

This book certainly is a different approach to story but also a good review of storytelling. Glad to share it here today.