Science of Story Telling

I really like Fast Company’s website, especially Co.Create. Of course, right? You can always find inspiring and informative stories as well as practical advice to become more efficient at your brand or your skill.

So, I found an article all you writers out there will appreciate. Today I was happy to have stumbled upon an article called “The Science of Storytelling.” by Jonathan Gottschall.

The author of the article writes:

“…stories aren’t just fun escapism–they have an almost spooky ability to mold our thinking and behavior. In this post, I’ll describe the science behind the attention-seizing power of stories, leaving their molding power for a follow-up post.”

It’s true. Of course we read a book or watch something on the TV to escape from our real world of work and chores and failed social interactions (Sorry, had to add that one in), but what happens to us as our mind enters into a story and its characters is so much more. We literally become part of the story.

Get ready for this one! Further in the article, he says:

But when absorbed in a good story–when we watch a show like Breaking Bad or read a novel like The Hunger Games–we experience approximately zero daydreams per hour. Our hyper minds go still and they pay close attention, often for hours on end. This is really very impressive. What it means is that story acts like a drug that reliably lulls us into an altered state of consciousness.”

Storytelling is really very powerful, isn’t it? The way a good book or an intense film can mould your mood and spike your thinking process is really quite amazing. We become stressed, afraid, joyful, upset, etc. as we follow the fictional life of a character. We really do live through the eyes of the main character in a book, show, or movie.

I also find that while writing fiction, I don’t find the process to be relaxing at all. It feels as though I have become the characters, and I will develop goosebumps during a scary scene or I will often shed tears if one of the characters I have loved and nurtured in my imagination dies. Sometimes, I need to sit back and take a sip of tea to remove myself from the intensity of being so involved in an alternate world.

This also reminds writers how cool it is to think that other people reading your work will also feel such emotions simply because their brain is wired to tune in to a story and become so engrossed into the tale that they lose track of reality. I love it! 🙂

So, writers, what do you think of this article? Do tell. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Science of Story Telling

  1. HI Sara,
    I think it is a great post. As a professional storyteller, I have learned that the human brain is wired for storytelling–it helps put all the confusion of life into a frame of story that helps us process and make sense of the world. If you can present ideas and information through story, whether for teaching or healing or entertainment, you will touch the heart that the mind may understand.

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