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Summary

How do master storytellers compel us? There have been many attempts to understand what makes a good story, but few have used a scientific approach. In The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr applies dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to our myths and archetypes to show how we can tell better stories, revealing, among other things, how storytellers - and also our brains - create worlds by being attuned to moments of unexpected change.

Storr’s superbly chosen examples range from Harry Potter to Jane Austen to Alice Walker, Greek drama to Russian novels to Native American folk tales, King Lear to Breaking Bad to children’s stories. With chapters such as "The Dramatic Question" and "Plot, Endings, and Meaning" and a practical, step-by-step appendix dedicated to "The Sacred Flaw Approach", The Science of Storytelling is destined to become an invaluable resource for writers of all stripes, whether novelist, screenwriter, playwright, or writer of creative or traditional nonfiction.

©2020 Will Storr (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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Profile Image for Daniel A. Boyd
  • Daniel A. Boyd
  • 28-08-20

All middling reviews correct

Doesn't believe in free will. Makes claims that aren't supported by science. Doesn't clearly apply science to plot and structure. Last chapter gives long example of how to implement framework. Needs more throughout. Elephant in the brain highly recommended. Wish I had read more plot books to compare. Main take away is the idea that main character creates a model of the world and that model gets upended. This basically fits 3 act structure but helps you get psychologically into the protagonists thinking. Minor take away is that readers like gossip, stories that denigrate the out group, make them feel good about their world models. This seems possible but author doesn't really provide evidence to back it up. A more upbeat take on the above is story brand. Which talks about how you want to be the guide and make the reader the hero. Good stuff in here, but just not set up in a clear manner.

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Profile Image for Jay Quintana
  • Jay Quintana
  • 23-01-21

If you want to learn science, read a science book

I have to admit to being a sucker for "two-for-one" books. I get to learn about storytelling AND science? I'm in! Information about both are provided here, but only at their most basic levels. If you've never read a book on writing, this book will be helpful. If you have read a few of them, you likely won't get much from this. Still, it doesn't hurt to have the principles of storytelling hardwired into your brain. Likewise, any knowledge of science is good. But I find it doubtful you didn't already know why stories need to surprise, scare, titillate, amuse, and fulfil us, even though you might not have been able to say it using scientific terms. In a nutshell, if you're a newcomer to writing books, you probably should get this. If not, and you're interested in science, see the title of this review.