fiction · Uncategorized

A Brain Chemistry Story Map: The Irresistible Novel

Thanks for staying with me, readers, for the past 23 Saturdays as I’ve read and reviewed each chapter of The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke. We started out the first part of the book reviewing grammar and writing practices. Now in the second part of the book we are taking a look at the human mind and how studies on the mind can improve our novels. We have a month left before we finish the book and I’m excited to announce that starting next week you can enter to win your very own copy of The Irresistible Novel. I’ll be doing my blog’s first giveaway as a result of having spoken to the author and I’m so excited to give one lucky reader a chance to read through this book free of charge. Stay tuned for that giveaway!


A Lesson in Brain Chemistry

This chapter opens with a brief discussion on the brain chemicals released during the course of reading a novel for most people. From start to finish, many readers will experience the release of dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, testosterone, glutamate, GABA, and serotonin. In this section he explains the feelings attached to each chemical such as the feeling of empathy that releases with the presence of oxytocin. It’s a lot of hypothesis and science talk so I’ll move on the next section.

The goal of a story’s beginning to is create a connection between the reader and the protagonist of your story. If you can get your reader to release oxytocin they will quickly form a bond with the character based on feeling of empathy and understanding. This is also sometimes called transportation. It is the ultimate goal of any story’s exposition.

The middle of the story is important for building anticipation. This is often done by a series of events that take the reader on an emotional roller coaster in preparation for the climax that lies ahead. During the middle of the story the reader can experience any of the following brain chemical reactions and oftentimes will feel more than one: dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin and testosterone.

By the end of the story your reader should feel some sort of calm relief as they come to terms with the way the character’s battles have turned out. The chemical associated with calm relief is known as GABA and if the calm is associated with happiness or excitement for the life that lies ahead for the character the reader may also experience a wave of serotonin.

The following is a glimpse into the story map developed by Gerke based on the scientific principles acquired through the brain studies performed by Dr. Zak:

  1. Attract the reader’s attention through the dangerous and new
  2. Show the protagonist in a struggle everyone can relate to
  3. Give the reader an opportunity to form a tight bond with your character
  4. Add some tension on the way to the climax (anticipation, curiosity, rests)
  5. Send the hero on a journey where they are able to experience change
  6. Create a rewarding ending

My Current Project…

As much as I struggled in school to comprehend science and anatomy I found this chapter on brain chemistry to be informative to me as an author. There is much to be learned from the study of neuroscience as it applies to reading and writing fiction and this chapter only scratches the surface.

After having read this chapter I can already think of ways to tweak the plot of my novel to help meet the neurological needs of my reader. I’m looking forward to inserting more tension and anticipation to the rising action and climax of my novel.

The Ameri Brit Mom


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