The Science of Storytelling Review by Will Storr – The Temptation of Novel Ideas | Science & Nature Books

TonAmerican novelist John Bart claimed that instead of the traditional “What happened next?” the real question every reader asks himself as he reads is “the fundamental question of identity—personal, professional, cultural, and even Species – specific “Who am I? “Stories are ordered, meaningful machines that help our brains render the insane incoherence of chaotic existence into understandable narratives. These narratives, as Peter Brooks demonstrates in his classic critical work read the plot, “follows the inner logic of the words of death” – stories have a beginning, middle, and end, because so do our lives. Every time we read a novel, we are giving ourselves a new way to think about the shape and structure of our own lives. Even in the age of artificial intelligence, the novel remains our most nuanced and complex technology when it comes to answering these deep existential questions.

Surprisingly, given how many authors now teach creative writing to supplement their meagre incomes, there are not many good books on fiction writing techniques. Beginning novelists still tend to turn to screenwriting guides when looking for inspiration.However, as a distinguished representative of Robert McKee storyone of many guides to using formalist archetypes to provide film writers with plot blueprints in Charlie Kaufman films adapt Proof that structures that work for blockbusters don’t always work for more refined narratives.

Will Storr is an award-winning journalist and author of a very good but largely forgotten novel, The Hunger and Howl of Killian Lone. exist The science of storytelling, he tries to do for novelists what McKee, Joseph Campbell, and Christopher Booker do for screenwriters—provide a how-to guide, review the fundamental questions that energize readers, and then use those questions to help novelists shape their narratives. However, Storr is doing something more interesting than just capitalizing on the current craze for creative writing, and much of this book isn’t just for those who wish to write for themselves. Recognizing the novel’s response to deep psychological impulses, Stoll uses a combination of neuroscience and psychology to explore why novels have become a staple of our cultural life. He shows how novelists can tackle the challenge of “catching and keeping the attention of other people’s brains” by delving into the science of these brains.

This makes for a very engaging reading experience. Storr deftly weaves between high and low cultures – in the space we’ve drawn from a few pages Mrs Dalloway to lost lover to Marion and Jeff to computer games fortnight – He illustrates and expands on these examples by repeatedly referring to the science behind them. He was particularly good at drawing on psychologist George Lowenstein’s research on curiosity (“Deep in the details of his dry academic paper, Lowenstein perfectly describes police procedural drama”) as well as Benjamin Bergen and Michael Neuroscience research in Gazzaniga. Storr shows how fiction activates the brain’s reward mechanism; he shows how we can use neural models to populate the world of the fiction we’re reading; there’s something great about research on saccades – what our eyes do when processing information The micro-movements made — and how novelists use it to frame their scenes.

The science of storytelling At the end is a long and practical appendix titled “The Sacred Flaw Method,” which provides a step-by-step guide to writing fiction, drawing on lessons and observations from the book. For the long and complex art of fiction writing, such templates can often seem a little blunt, but Stoll’s central thesis is so compelling, and his own prose so sculpted and so readable, that I Find yourself largely persuaded. Robert McKee has built an empire out of his screenwriting manual – attending one of his workshops will cost you nearly $1,000. Storr’s masterful exploration of the enduring appeal of fiction makes it feel like it could do something similar – a clever and fascinating exploration of the science and psychology behind our most complex art form, while also serving as an effective guide .

The science of storytelling by Will Stoll Published by William Collins (£12.99). To order a copy, visit or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online only.Phone orders as low as £1.99

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