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

TonAmerican novelist John Bart claimed that, rather than the traditional “What happened next?”, the real question every reader asks himself as he reads is “the fundamental question of identity—personal, professional, cultural, 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 shows 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, considering how many authors are teaching creative writing these days to supplement their meager income, 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 who wrote a very good but largely forgotten novel, Killian Lone’s Hunger and Howl. exist The science of storytelling, he tries to do for novelists what McKee, Joseph Campbell, and Christopher Booker did for screenwriters—provide a how-to, 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 that fiction is a response to deep psychological impulses, Stoll uses a combination of neuroscience and psychology to explore why fiction has 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 made particular use of psychologist George Lowenstein’s research on curiosity (“In the details of his dry academic paper, Lowenstein perfectly describes police procedural drama”) and Benjamin Bergen and Neuroscience research by Michael Gazzaniga. Storr shows how novels activate the brain’s reward mechanism; he shows how we can use neural models to populate the world of the novel we’re reading; there’s something great about research on saccades – what our eyes do when processing information The micro-movement — 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, templates like this often feel a little blunt, but Stoll’s central thesis is so compelling, and his own prose so sculpted and so readable, that I find I was largely persuaded myself. 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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