Story Genius by Lisa Cron

As an aspiring writer with a lot of writer friends (some who’ve published their long awaited first books and even more, like me, who haven’t), the topic of crafting a riveting story comes up all the time. We’re constantly chatting about what makes a good story, what makes characters not only believable, but memorable and what kind of voodoo magic we employ to get ourselves to sit down and finish our writing projects once and for all. We talk about it all the time, and we read about it with a constant, voracious appetite.

So when I snuggled up on the couch with my cat on one side and a freshly printed book on the other, I was ready to hear what Lisa Cron had to say on the matter in Story Genius, a newly published book that answers all of the questions above, and then some. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Story Genius is a thorough, yet easy to read guide to writing. It also delivered on a promise to explain “how to use brain science to go beyond outlining and write a riveting novel.”

sotry-geniusWithin the first few chapters, the author easily convinced me to rethink how I’ve been structuring my fiction stories. To start, Lisa Cron focuses not on pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants and seeing where the story takes you) or outlining (mapping out your entire story right from the start), but on the internal transformation of your main character and the action and plot points that will stem from her internal struggles. Cron’s method is definitely character driven, and it focuses on building extensive back story for each your novel’s characters.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Story Genius. The author does a great job walking readers through building scenes and characters based off the protagonist’s internal struggle, or “third rail” as Cron refers to it. And I especially liked that the author recruited a fellow writer to work through Cron’s prescribed method throughout the entire book. Readers can read through the “third-rail approach” and then watch it played out in an ever-developing fiction piece by a writer named Jenny.


Because of its focus on internal logic, cause-and-effect driven scenes and its character-focused method, I’ve already placed Story Genius on my desk as a quick-grab reference for writing fiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone who writes fiction, if only to help you in fleshing out characters and ensuring their actions are logical and believable.

As for me and my perpetually-in-progress first book, I’ll keep plugging away, but now I have a better sense of what should drive my stories forward. I’m sure a lot of my fellow writers are way ahead of me on this one, but I’m still glad to have learned the lesson.

Happy reading, everyone.

page dividerFor more about Story Genius, click here, or learn more about the author, Lisa Cron.

Just sayin’: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

Book Review: Little Paris Bookshop

Some books, like people, will steal your heart away before you ever know what’s happening. They’ll sweep your little cappuccino-drinkin’-self right off your feet and leave you smiling for days, reason unknown. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George, did exactly that each time I sat down to read it. Originally a German novel, this fictional account focuses on a tragic, middle-aged man whom over time has closed himself off to everything except his books (and cats, admittedly). Note to self: don’t end up like that. Keep loving people, in addition to cats.

Continue reading “Book Review: Little Paris Bookshop”

Book Review: The More of Less

The More of Less by Joshua BeckerThe More of Less, by Joshua Becker, is not at all what I expected when I first picked it up. To give you an idea of what I mean, let me start with what I thought I was getting: a simple book about how to minimize your possessions and consequently, live a clutter-free life. Here’s what I actually got: a really cool book about changing your mindset towards consumerism, identifying your priorities, and living a mindful, purposeful life. Oh yeah, and there’s some stuff about decluttering and minimizing in there, too. But the great thing about this book is that the discussion of what and how many goods we should get rid of takes a backseat to that of developing a minimalist mindset and figuring out how to “unbusy” our lives. Continue reading “Book Review: The More of Less”