Craft books can be frustrating because they require an investment of time to read, some advice you already know, and the takeaways are sometimes hard to remember and apply once you actually sit down to write. This book is great because each chapter ends with a checklist, reminding you of key points and questions to ask yourself about your story. For example: Is there something at stake on the first page, and is your reader aware of it?
One chapter I enjoyed the most was “The Road from Setup to Payoff.” It explains how the brain is always looking for patterns, and so you must intentionally create them for your reader, but in such a way that is satisfying and meaningful. Also, don’t underestimate what your reader already knows. I think beginning writers feel they need to keep a lot of secrets, but you don’t want to keep so many secrets that your reader is clueless and unsure what to care about. In fact, better to let your reader in on the secret early on. It actually creates more suspense, not less. I love that concept!
Another great rule of thumb is to remember that each scene should follow the action/reaction/decision pattern so that you’re creating a chain of events that build the story’s momentum.
There are a lot of little details like a section on how to use body language to tell readers something they don’t know rather than just to show for example that a character is crying because he or she is sad.
It’s also a good book for troubleshooting. Chapters 4 and 5 are crucial as they help you identify what your character really wants and how his/her inner issue affects his/her worldview.
The final chapter on revision is also worth a look. It gives you a checklist for your critique group on what kinds of initial feedback you need. The author suggests you ask the same questions after every scene. For example: try asking your reader what he/she thinks will happen next.
I don’t usually buy books. As a former librarian, I tend to check them out at the library. But this is one book I will consider buying. It’s a great resource for each new story you write.
Learn more about Wired for Story and the craft of writing on Lisa Cron's website: http://wiredforstory.com/wired-for-story
Do you have a book on craft to recommend? Let us know in the comments, or send us your review. Submission guidelines are here.
Coming up next Friday on the Mitten blog: a new Member Spotlight! Who will it be?
Become a subscriber and never miss a post. Simply enter your email at the top of the right sidebar.