Where Story Lives and Breathes

Where story lives and breathesLisa Cron guested on a podcast last year discussing internality and backstory, where story lives and breathes.

Listening back to Joanna Penn’s interview from 2021, writer and coach Lisa Cron asked ‘why does story matter in every book we write, no matter the genre?’

Cron believes we focus too much on plot. For too many manuscripts, ask her what it’s about, she replies “it’s about three hundred pages… it’s just a bunch of things that happen.”

Cron decries ‘story structure’ books:

“…first of all, it’s a misnomer. It’s not story structure, it’s plot structure. And the story’s not about the plot. The story’s about how the plot affects the protagonist…”

In Cron’s view, story is “driven by that internal consequence that causes the protagonist to see it differently and then take action.”

When writers talk about the narrative thread, again, they mistake it for the plot.

“Narrative thread is not the plot. The narrative thread is the internal, subjective narrative that the protagonist is using to make sense of what’s happening in the plot, and then deciding what to do.”

Her answer is internality and backstory. She rejects the idea of ‘rationing’ backstory and internal reflection in favour of plot. The more of both in the manuscript, the deeper the characters.

“That’s where story lives and breathes. If you don’t create that first, you don’t have a story.”

Cron concludes with a contemporary analogy:

“When you’re lost in a story, you really are lost in that protagonist’s world. They’re your avatar. You are that person. That’s why story works. Story is the world’s first virtual reality.”

You can find Lisa Cron at WiredForStory.com and on Twitter @LisaCron

3 thoughts on “Where Story Lives and Breathes”

  1. ‘Internality’ sounds like another made up jargon word, but I get it. Really difficult to get inside the characters without it (unless you’re Ishiguro, when it’s all sub-text, but there’s only one of him)

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