Top positive review
A breath of fresh air (in a VERY stuffy field)
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2016
This book stands apart from every other book about story I've ever read. And I've read quite a few.
For someone who's primarily "interested" in the art and/or science of story, this book is bound to disappoint.
But, for someone who's *engaged* in the hobby or profession of crafting stories that need to *work*, "Story Genius" is a godsend.
Lisa Cron has nailed down, in deceptively simple language, the very exact steps a writer needs to take to go from interesting prose to a compelling story. While the book is highly readable and doesn't have lots of (any, in my reading) frightening and impressive words, I see the fingerprints of other geniuses on the page: Rupert Sheldrake, Nick Arrizza, Anders Ericcson, and even (and in this context, it's a high compliment), L. Ron Hubbard.
Just fingerprints, though. The vast majority of the work here is all Cron's. She is so lighthearted and playful, you could easily miss the profound value (to the working storyteller) in her book IF YOU WEREN'T ALREADY STARVING FOR IT.
Which I am. Because with all the wonderful books I've read and courses I've taken, a few things have been missing.
Like: After you've identified the "wound" in the protagonist's past that informs the inner part of their journey through the story, what in the world do you do with that information? Most other writers, teachers, and gurus implicitly leave you with the challenge, "Well, that's for you to figure out."
Translation: They don't know, and they don't want you to know that they don't know.
Cron does, and she lays it out explicitly and generously. On the point of the protagonist's "wound" alone, this book is a complete though concise master class.
Another thing I've found missing almost everywhere else: How much of your character's past do you need to tell your reader about -- and how do you determine what that how much is?
I've only seen a partial answer to that question one place else -- in Aaron Sorkin's MasterClass on screenwriting -- and while he gave essentially the same answer, I find Cron's coverage of this topic in this book, much more useful and comprehensive.
"Story Genius" might not be the best book for a beginner for one simple and ironic reason:
Until you've been burned over and over again by the overconfident gurus of this field (and I don't include Sorkin here -- he's great, but again, not as comprehensive on certain key points), you won't be able to appreciate the finesse and extraordinary practical value of what's in this book.
I know if I had read it, say, 30 years ago, I would have shrugged a lot of this stuff off. Might have called it "repetitive" or "incomplete."
These days, I struggle with the real problems that Cron addresses in this book -- both as a working writer myself, and as a coach to other writers.
In that way, I am like an experienced jeweler walking through a flea market of cubic zirconium. I have to make stuff work, rather than read or hear it five times just to understand what it is.
So, I recognize a gem when I see it.
If any of this resonates, you should get this book to ease your own suffering and increase your own productivity -- and satisfaction with the experience -- sooner, rather than later.