Stories have an evolutionary purpose. Early humans came together to share specific information in the form of cautionary tales. The more vivid, the easier to remember and act upon. Even though we’re no longer relying on stories for our survival as a species, our brains are still hard-wired to love stories. The pleasure we get from them is nature’s way of making sure we pay attention.
Cool idea, but once you grasp that concept, where is there to go with it? It explains some things, like why rip-roaring yarns will always outsell “fine writing,” but it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the nuts and bolts of solid storytelling.
WIRED FOR STORY is full of standard advice for beginning writers. Make sure your hero has both inner and outer motivation. Use sensory details. Make sure your story has plenty of conflict. And so on. The brain science behind this advice is sprinkled in lightly, but the advice stands perfectly well without it, making it seem like a gimmick.
I never thought I’d say this about a how-to book, but the introduction to WIRED FOR STORY is the best part. On its own, it would have made a fascinating magazine article or blog post. The rest of the book contains good advice that won’t hurt beginners and might help a lot. But layering on the scientific basis for each technique doesn’t make the techniques new or noteworthy or even, (in this case) particularly interesting.
rating: 3 stars
pie slices: 8 slices craft
This book is best for: beginning writers
I recommend this book or Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias