Exploring Stories

Posted on September 27, 2011

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Who doesn’t love a good tale? Could our brains simply be wired to respond to stories? Perhaps we’ve seen an evolutionary advantage to storytelling, but where do the stories come from? If the brain is circuitry and storage, is the mind our source for imagination? Thinking about this fascination we have with stories can bring out a whole slew of questions.

The sensation of being swept into the illusion of a novel or movie fascinates me. Besides a break from reality, or a novel experience, what do stories give us? I’ve done a little research and picked out a few interesting ideas:

1) They can be instructional. Stories portray physical, social, and moral situations along with potential solutions and actions that  result in success or failure. Given that, stories can certainly be as propaganda. On a more positive note, they teach us how we might live our lives.

2) Complex concepts or dangerous situations can be explored without losing life, limb, or personal integrity. Stories give us emotions, such as fear, courage, and strength which may satisfy the daredevil, anarchist, or explorer within us, without risk.

3) Stories are a way to create mental maps to help us understand the world around us. They give us an insight into diversity without stepping outside our comfortable homes.

4) They can alter our consciousness. Stories transport us, and immerse us in ways that differ from other stimuli. No one seems to understand the hows or why of it, but the topic is considered important to neuroscientists.

For this blog, I’m going to analyze novels, and occasionally movies in hope of understanding how they achieved or failed to fulfill the function of great stories. I’m hopeful that such a discussion will make me a better storyteller, and through frequent compositions, a better writer.

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