How Writers Change the World


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It is with immense pleasure that I announce that my new book, STORY GENIUS, will be released by Ten Speed Press on August 9th. Yes this Tuesday.

It’s also really scary. Because as of Tuesday morning, it will no longer belong to me. It will be out there in the world, and it will belong to you, and to anyone who buys it, takes it out of the library, borrows it from a friend, or illegally downloads it from a sketchy website (you know who you are). Of course I hope you all love it to death (even you pirates) and agree with every single thing I said on every page.

Seriously, kidding.  I’m sure there will be places where you might think, Wait a minute, really? (Notice how I kind of hedged there? “Might think?) Anyway, the point is, there are always people who will disagree, and that’s as it should be.

My goal is to provide you with a new understanding of story, its unparalleled power, and then give you a step-by-step method for creating a novel capable of changing the way people see themselves, the world, and what they go out and do in the world.

I certainly don’t agree with everything I read, either. But with surprising frequency I find gems when reading people I’m pretty sure I’ll disagree with. Like the New York Times right-leaning columnist David Brooks, who said something in last Tuesday’s column that went like an arrow straight to my heart (in a good way). His column was titled: How Artists Change the World. He was writing, specifically, about the photographs of Frederick Douglass, but he was talking about how all artists, including writers, change people’s perception of the world. Not just their perception of what things look like, but – far more potently – what things really mean. Here is Brooks:

“We carry around unconscious mental maps, built by nature and experience, that organize how we scan the world and how we instantly interpret and order what we see.
With these portraits, Douglass was redrawing people’s unconscious mental maps.
These images don’t change your mind; they smash through some of the warped lenses through which we’ve been taught to see.”

Yes!! That is exactly what novels do, that is what you will do. By catapulting your reader into your protagonist’s brain, you help your reader “smash through the warped lens through which [she was] taught to see,” and your reader’s unconscious mental map gets redrawn right along with the protagonist’s.

The purpose of art – as Brooks so eloquently says – is exactly that: to teach people how to see in a new way.

There’s nothing I’d rather do than help you in that quest.

Onward!
Lisa