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Publisher's 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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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

The science behind the best sentences and scenes.

Science, yes, but quality close readings of exceptional source material too. Analysis of plot, character, and psychological/neurological reality behind it was truly informative.

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  • Daniel A. Boyd
  • 2020-08-28

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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie Romer
  • 2021-02-13

A great portal into human psychology

I loved this book, even though I fundamentally was shocked and alienated by it. The motives he describes, the self-domestication of the human mind, are what has been the primary alienating factor in my life. I hardly expected the book to go so deep into the unspoken motivation which has dogged me my whole life. I have taken many psychological tests over the years and went to graduate school in behavioral neuroscience and evolutionary psychology but never finished because I never automatically developed the control function he speaks of so eloquently. My main motivation is truth, and it has set me at odds with the social world, and with most humans eventually. This was the first book I have ever read out of thousands that truly changed my view of writing forever and so to me it has instantly become my most favorite and influential writing book. Just know that there are people who do not have a need to control in some instances for whatever reason. I am in a 1% psychological group on many measurements including openness, agreeableness, and IQ. So I have trouble seeing from the perspective of the majority and their needs and motives. This book was the lens and light which showed me how humans think and how to reach them more than any other. I can honestly say that this was one of the best books I have ever read in any subject because of this. It’s value to me as a writer is incalculable. Thank you for writing this book and changing my life forever.

4 people found this helpful

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  • T. Matz
  • 2021-05-17

Never took off

Kept waiting for the book to get better but it never did. Listened to just over an hour and a half. I didn’t care, think about nor need to know a sexual preference, but it had to be subtly made, and afterwards that’s all I heard.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Josephblu
  • 2021-09-09

Excellent class. Original concepts. Well organized

I am perpetually taking classes in an attempt to improve my writing. I have only recently started applying this book to my practice and my writing, but it has been helpful. Rarely do you find a book on writing with much original to teach for that reason alone this book is WELL worth the price,

1 person found this helpful

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  • Roxanne
  • 2021-05-28

Unexpectedly enlightening

This book provides a perspective of storytelling that I was not expecting.... Not your typical English course.

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  • Seth
  • 2021-02-27

Perfect

Exactly what I was looking for. Well versed and informative. I highly recommend to anyone interested in writing or just having a better storytelling toolkit.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jay Quintana
  • 2021-01-23

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Yoshida
  • 2021-07-16

Lot of Factual Information on Storytelling

It starts off with the science of communication and how people can receive information. It's not focused on storytelling for the first few chapters. Then when the book does get into storytelling, it's a lot of factual information (not guidance or techniques).

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  • Brett Knight
  • 2021-06-18

Terribly hard to get through

While there is some good information in this book the way in which it is presented makes it incredibly hard to get through. Which is ironic given the topic of the book. Don't waste your money.