Friday, April 24, 2015

Wired for Story: A Review by Angie Kidd
This book on writing was recommended to me by a teacher in a middle grade novel writing class.  Books on craft are always hit or miss, but for me, this one just clicked.  I like how it explained how we’re hardwired for story and what makes readers want to keep turning pages.

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?

Additionally, each chapter begins with both a cognitive and story secret, such as “everything in a story must be there on a need-to-know basis.” We probably all know that we’re not supposed to info dump, but this book helps you understand how to know when to share important information.  

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. 

Angie Kidd grew up in Ohio but currently lives in Michigan.  She wears many creative hats including journalist, poet, artist, children's librarian, blogger, and children's author and illustrator. Her artwork and poetry recently appeared in the Beyond Words collaborative exhibition in Toledo, OH.  Check out her blog at  

Learn more about Wired for Story and the craft of writing on Lisa Cron's website:

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Happy reading!
Kristin Lenz


  1. Thanks Angie for the review. This sounds like a good resource.

  2. Angie, I agree about books on the craft being hit or miss, but this is one I'm definitely going to check out. Thanks.

  3. Thanks, Angie! I think this is going to be one to buy! S.

  4. Great article, Angie! I will definitely have to give that book a read.

  5. Great review. You've definitely got me wanting to read this one.