I love popcorn popped in bacon fat. I love almost every fruit (except kiwi) and vegetable (including kale) I've ever eaten. And since I was little, I've loved diving head first into every story I hear, searching for what works, what doesn't, and why. (Which made a lot of otherwise boring stories way more tolerable.)
Story has always affected me in a big way. I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't read A Wrinkle in Time when I was nine. Or, sadly, watched way, way too much TV as a teenager. Remember That Girl and Love, American Style? I hope not.
Even the ads I watched as a kid had an impact on me. No, I wouldn't buy the product (even then I was a rotten consumer); what I bought was the "reality" that those old ads portrayed. Everyone's house is spotless. Happy people don't fight. Every problem has a neat, easy solution.
It was the world of advertising that helped me really begin to understand the power of story. I remember being stunned to discover how many deep-seated ideas, attitudes and beliefs I held that I'd never actually thought about. Beliefs that, when I did think about them, I didn't believe at all, not even a little bit. In fact, they were often the exact opposite of what I knew to be true. (Happy people do fight — all the time -- and guess what? it's okay!) An effective story, it turns out, enters through your gut, looks out through your eyes, and is never really analyzed by your conscious brain. That's the hardwired power of story.
Understanding that power allows you to both wield it, and, as important, to gird yourself against it if need be. Otherwise, like me, you might end up at McDonalds at midnight scarfing down a Big Mac, super sized fries and a 32 oz Coke because you deserve a break today! (Hey, it only happened the once.)
That's my story. What's yours?
Lisa Cron is a story coach and the author of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence and Story Genius: How To Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages that Go Nowhere) both published by Ten Speed Press.
Her video tutorial Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story can be found at Lynda.com.
Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency.
Since 2006, she's been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in visual narrative in New York City.
Lisa works with writers, nonprofits, educators and organizations, helping them master the unparalleled power of story, so they can move people to action – whether that action is turning the pages of a compelling novel, trying a new product, or taking to the streets to change the world for the better.
Her literary agent is Laurie Abkemeier at DeFiore and Company