|Do you know why you are drawn to certain stories? I learned a lot about it in an online writing class that I just finished called Story Genius, and I want to share it with you here. Based on this class and an Aha moment I had recently, I have decided to go a different direction with my book. I am really excited about it!
Story Genius is based on Lisa Cron’s book with the same title and a subtitle that says it all: “How to Use Brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years and Write 327 Pages that Go Nowhere).”
Why has this class been so transforming for me as a writer? Because I learned about what aspects of story resonate most with readers. Not surprisingly, the most important thing is the protagonist’s inner struggle. This usually begins some time in childhood, and is characterized by a belief that builds over time and is hard to break, except when it comes into conflict with something the protagonist truly desires. Then there is an Aha moment when he or she realizes this dilemma, and the protagonist either changes to achieve this desire, or stays the same at some personal cost.
These principles apply to all stories. It doesn’t matter whether the story is fiction, non-fiction, short story, movie, or a play. In can even apply to tweets, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of social media.
A Favorite Example
The example from the class that I love most is Ira Glass’ interview on This American Life of a man who was having difficulty with relationships. This man grew up believing you should be honest no matter what. He learned this from his parents, who even took him to their marriage therapy sessions because they believed in honesty so much. When this man started dating, he told all the women he met the truth about everything. Slowly, he realized that his brutal honesty was getting in the way of his relationships, so he changes to get the thing he wanted.
How am I going to apply what I’ve learned in this class to my book? I decided I am going to revise my book and maybe even turn it into fiction. I will apply Story Genius principles to my grandmother’s underlying story: who she is, what she wants, what she believes, and what happens when events occur that make her realize that the thing she believed in all along will no longer get her what she wants. This is her Aha moment, which changes her outlook and how she makes decisions going forward.
My Aha Moment
My own Aha moment about my writing journey goes something like this. I believe that my grandmother’s story has shaped me and is worthy of being told. I spend years interviewing her and my father for the book, and complete a manuscript. My goal is to publish my grandmother’s story so others can read it and learn something from her struggles. As I receive feedback from agents, consult with writing coaches, and take writing classes, I realize that I could dig deeper into the story and make my book better by using what I learn from Story Genius. I decide to try to write a fiction book based on my grandmother’s life.
In conclusion, my path to publishing is going to take a little longer than I thought. Thank you for continuing to travel with me around another bend on my journey!
What beliefs have you grown up with that may have come in conflict with something you wanted in your life? How did you resolve it? Please leave a comment here.
If you want to learn more about Story Genius, let me know! Story Genius is taught by author Lisa Cron and book coach Jennie Nash through Author Accelerator and is being offered again in October.