A while back I posted a blog about an upcoming vacation David and I were taking to Quebec City and how we would follow the trail of a favorite author’s sleuth—Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache, the protagonist of her novel, Bury Your Dead.
Did we visit the Café Temporel like Inspector Gamache and drink café au lait and munch croissants? Mais Oui! Was it as delicious as Louise’s description made it sound? Absolument!
Did we visit the Literary and Historical Society where the victim, Augustin Renaud, met his death? We did! Was it fun to take the tour and talk with other Louise Penny fans who’d read the book? You betcha.
Did I come away with further insight into what it is about Louise’s storytelling that grabs the hearts and minds of readers? Not as much as I would have liked.
Which is why I’m excited about a book that points to some answers. It’s called Wired For Story, by Lisa Cron (http://www.wiredforstory.com/). Cron’s book pulls together some of the latest neuroscientific research on why humans need stories and what writers must do to fulfill that need.
Cron tells how Canadian researchers studied two groups of readers: one that read Chekhov’s short story, “The Lady with the Toy Dog”; and another that read a document with the same content, but told as fact. It turns out that Chekhov’s story was significantly more likely to influence behavior measures. Leading the researchers to conclude that a powerfully-told story can instill new values such as empathy. Wow!
She points to another study where brain imaging reveals how readers’ brains create vivid mental simulations of the sounds, sights, tastes and movements in the brain regions used to process similar experiences in real life.
Even better, the book provides twelve chapters on how to use neuroscientific findings to craft better stories.