bridgette's review against another edition

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4.0

I've not yet written a novel from scratch using using her method, so I can't say for 100% that it works. Regardless, Cron's book delves into story telling from every angle and focuses on how developing characters then often leads to plot and how all your plot points have to touch on the main character's internal struggle to create an enthralling story.

This is the first book I've read that I think could actually make me a plotter (I'm usually a panster with some plotting tendencies), but her methods just make logical sense, and I can see how they would build on each other and tie it all together to create a wonderful, logical story. I've been one to even consider using index cards or story cards (Cron calls them scene cards), but following her method should result in a much more high quality, detailed "first" draft than just sitting down at the computer and typing away. Already, her theories and strategies have already pointed out flaws in my current MS that I wasn't sure how to fix and wasn't even sure they were a problem. Now, I can see a more detailed, specific path forward, so that makes it worth the read.

I'll probably update this review once I use the method to actually write a novel from beginning to end as opposed to using it for revisions.

evolvemind's review against another edition

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5.0

If an indicator of a successful work is that your thoughts keep returning to it, or that it stirs much passionate controversy, the wide-ranging comments suggest Cron has hit the mark. As someone wrestling with the complex project of writing a first novel that tells a cohesive, compelling story, I've found the insights, method, and tools in Story Genius exceptionally helpful. By including iterations of a work in progress, it invites you into the kitchen to watch the sausage making. Then the exercises have you get your hands sloppy with your own recipe.

I appreciate the distinction between the broader worlds of literature and sprawling slums of superficial (a bunch of stuff happens) fiction, on one hand, and storytelling that feels psychologically grounded and relatable, on the other. This was intuitive to me before, but Story Genius helped clarify why I already sensed such a distinction. A story, in this context, "is how the things that happen [plot] affect someone in pursuit of a difficult goal, and how that person changes internally as a result." That tracks with my own sense of what a story is. I tend not to finish reading 'stories' that lack this dynamic.

The coverage of neuroscience is thin, as some have complained, but the principles presented are sufficient for the demonstrations and challenges that follow. To reap the considerable practical benefits the book offers, approach it as a guide to specific story-crafting concepts and techniques. It's a workshop.

Having completed NaNoWriMo the past three years, Story Genius has given me specific insights into why those three efforts (while fun) have amounted to lessons in how NOT to effectively create cohesive, logical (cause-and-effect), emotionally compelling stories.

I highly recommend the book and the writing approach for those who want to write stories that will skillfully draw most readers in through emotional resonance with relatable main characters.

erinys's review against another edition

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5.0

I picked this up while finishing my current novel and starting work on the next one. I was hoping to brush up on the preparation and planning stages of writing, and this turned out to be EXACTLY the book I needed--and one of the better resources I've read on writing in general.

I highly recommend this to anyone who feels like their story-telling skills could use some improvement. I think all of my books from now on will be better because of it.

ginpomelo's review

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hopeful informative medium-paced

3.0

noiriste's review against another edition

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3.0

Years after initially reading this and having become a better writer since, I've come to realize this book is good for drilling one essential fact into your brain: good fiction mimics real life in that what happens to people and how they interpret things that happen to them are deeply related to their pasts, their traumas, and the environments they grew up in. A lot of beginning fiction writers don't get this. This book's hack is similar to EMDR, in that it identifies the character's issue and the novel is the conduit for overcoming that issue by reliving the problem with a greater understanding.

The problem is...this is only relevant for a particular kind of novel. There are so many different kinds of novels out there that don't follow this trajectory, that resist traditional narrative arcs, and actively fight against them because they are often aligned with outdated modes of political and social thought.

So while this isn't a bad writing book, you should not see it as the blueprint for all novels, or even most novels. It's a good training manual to get your brain into character writing mode, and not making the mistakes of many amateur writers. This is really a book for the 99% that make it to the slush pile. This is not the book for the 1% who are decent writers and just need to keep chugging ahead to land an agent. It's worth reading for brushing up all the same.

Just keep in mind Cron doesn't even use any recent or classic bestsellers as examples of her blueprint. Instead, she uses her friend, an unpublished writer, and her lousy idea for a novel. I don't like disparaging other people's work, but it really can't go without saying the example she uses throughout the book is an awful, awful idea for a book (a female screenwriter is struggling to finish her show, so she steals a dog as the studio heads threaten to bring in a fan fiction writer to replace her).

_frances's review

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challenging funny informative medium-paced

3.75

aeosworth's review against another edition

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slow-paced

3.0

Read this book because my students voted it the best craft book in the works and decided to read it this semester. I draft really differently than this, so it’s not my jam. But I’m excited to try out some of this as a revision tool.

lucaslyra's review

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challenging informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

5.0

emilyrooke's review against another edition

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5.0

Incredibly helpful and highly recommended!

professor_kirby's review against another edition

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3.0

Lots of good insights that I think will help my writing. However, its title is misleading, as there is very little actual brain science discussed in the book. Also, the author suffers from My Writing Method is the Best and Only Correct Way to Write, All Others Are Wrong Syndrome, which is quite grating.