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The Science of Storytelling

The Science of Storytelling

Stories are everywhere

Stories are as much a part of our lives as eating and sleeping – so it’s worth taking a closer look at what makes them tick.

The secret to building the “perfect story” isn’t so secret. It just involves taking an in-depth look at the way our brains work

Our brains are built to enjoy stories

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T / Unsplash

Our brain casts us as the hero of the narrative of the reality it creates. To do so, it will reconfigure our past choices to fit our heroic narrative.

Our brain also seeks to create a linear plot in our lives, ordering our memories into cause and effect sequences.

The story our brain creates includes not just us, the hero, but other characters. We’re surrounded by other people, and one of our deepest urges is to understand how their minds work. It’s one of the ways our brains seek to control our environment.

Why are we driven to understand other people? The answer is rooted in survival. Our species has lived on because of human cooperation, and as we moved into fixed settlements, having social skills for trading and negotiations became a valuable asset. In humans of all ages, the urge to understand others is so overwhelming that we even project human feelings onto inanimate objects, like a “vengeful” door swinging back to hit us after we slam it.

Stories give us an opportunity to satisfy our itch to understand the minds of others. And there’s a particular type of character we are drawn to – one with flaws.