By: Lisa Cron
Story Genius is a foolproof program that saves writers from penning hundreds of pages only to realize that something’s not working and they have to start again. Informed by story consultant Lisa Cron’s science-based insights into how story structure is built into the architecture of the brain, this guide shows writers how to plumb the nitty-gritty details of their raw idea to organically generate a story scene by scene. Once writers reach the end of Cron’s program, they will have both a blueprint that works and plenty of compelling writing suitable for their finished novel–allowing them to write forward with confidence.
Completion: While I read the whole thing, I did have to skim in places because Cron kept hammering the same simple point for pages at a time which becomes quickly repetitive.
Writing/Style: The style is both unsurprising and yet disappointing. The book reads like any basic writing guide which wouldn’t be as bad if it didn’t advertise itself with a subtitle that reads “How to Outline Your Novel Using the Secrets of Brain Science”. I was expecting more depth and substance involving interesting facts and tips on writing plot, pacing, character development, etc. in relation to science. I expected answers to questions like which physical character traits trigger sympathy or anger? What words create a certain reaction from the reader? Instead, we are given a pretty straightforward guide disguised as something more.
Characters: Since this is a book on writing, there are no characters per se. Instead, I will just mention that Cron uses the same story example throughout the book to demonstrate how a writer could flesh it out into a stronger story.
Plot/Pacing: The pacing is acceptable only if you have never picked up a book on writing before or taken a writing class. Otherwise, it is slow and lacks originality.
World-building/Atmosphere: Cron spends very little time on world-building. This is not a book worth picking up if you are interested in genre writing.
Sub-genres (Romance, Humor, Mystery, etc.): Cron’s voice throughout the book didactic with small attempts at humor that just fell flat for me. Cron focuses on telling a general story and does not focus much on particular details related to different genres such as romance, humor, mystery, etc.
FINAL VERDICT: While I am disappointed that this writing guide’s angle of science is so shallowly executed, this guide is far from a horrible book. For many beginning writers, it might be helpful, and for more experienced writers, it can be a nice reminder to focus on your characters’ internal struggles; just don’t expect this guide to be more advanced than what it really is.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.