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Five essential writing tips backed by science

The Many 'Us'

Most writers become emotionally invested(and hence biased) in their main character.

A great storyteller must come out of his ‘self’ and be willing to expose his own flaws. In real life, one rarely gets to know who he is(self-realization), but in a story, the hero can realize himself, while recognizing his conflicting desires and thoughts.

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Five essential writing tips backed by science

Five essential writing tips backed by science

https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/science-storytelling

bigthink.com

6

Key Ideas

The Science Of Storytelling

According to Will Storr, author of ‘The Science Of Storytelling’, reality is just a phrase for a common set of shared facts and surroundings and is mainly a mind construct. We may not be living in reality, but through our internal storytelling, we are constructing a reality. We may just be the sum of the stories inside our minds.

Change Matters

Human beings react to physical and environmental changes all the time. Likewise, a good story requires changes and challenges, and characters need to be provided with certain crossroads of change, else the story does not move.

Cause And Effect

Incomplete stories are filled automatically by the brain, as we have an urge to find meaning in everything. We also tend to believe the simplest explanations. Stories need to be shown a linear cause and effect for the reader to stay interested. If there are too many effects, the effect is lost.

Humans Are Flawed

Flawed characters have been a favourite in stories, as it is the imperfections in life that are relatable, as we are all partly biased, stubborn and imperfect. Flaws also show that life is not fully in one’s control.

Apart from plots, having a convincing character and exposing their flaws is a hallmark of a great story.

The Many 'Us'

Most writers become emotionally invested(and hence biased) in their main character.

A great storyteller must come out of his ‘self’ and be willing to expose his own flaws. In real life, one rarely gets to know who he is(self-realization), but in a story, the hero can realize himself, while recognizing his conflicting desires and thoughts.

Use Your Illusion

The best stories are always a hero’s journey, where challenges and problems transform a person.

Human beings still have a tribal instinct in their DNA, and the modern age has transcended all the prior boundaries. The stories we believe, and the hero’s narrative each one of us follows, are what make up our major beliefs in life. We all love a good story as we are all deep down a story only, a coherent narrative that we call our own.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Seven universal plots
Seven universal plots

There are only seven plots that are so fundamental to the way we tell stories that every storyteller uses one of them: Overcoming Monsters, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return Rebirth,...

Economic history

Looking for a few universal plot patterns reveals things fundamental to how all people think, which are likely to be repeated in the future and relevant to your own situation. This idea also applies to how the economy works.

Economic history can seem complicated because it's part of politics, psychology, sociology, criminology, biology, military, technology, education, finance, etc. But within all that complexity is a lot of similarities.

The lens to look through
  • People seem to want the same economic things – security, power, admiration, fulfillment.
  • They tend to use the same tactics to acquire those things - work, risk, incentives, persuasion, theft, control.
  • They tend to fall for the same flaws pursuing those things - overconfidence, pessimism, underestimating how fast things can change, etc.

Although economic history may seem complicated, there are only a small number of broad story plots throughout the world and throughout time.

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Why storytelling works

Stories are like instruction manuals that explain how we move from one state of being to another.

Stories help us imagine how we can improve our own lives or avoid unpleasant consequen...

A good story moves us

A good story can make us laugh or cry, our bodies can tense with a dramatic horror movie, or we are flooded with relief when the hero comes to the rescue. This experience is called transportation.

Transportation allows us to experience a story's movement through its characters. The characters' struggles and their rewards become our own.

Our relationship with stories

Good stories catch your attention, connects you by drawing you in and move you to action. Stories that don't capture your attention will fail to deliver their message.

When participants remain engaged with a story and see characters overcome conflicts, they will empathize with the characters and be more willing to act on these feelings.

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Storytelling is...
Storytelling is...
...the process of using fact and narrative to communicate something to your audience. Some stories are factual, and some are embellished or improvised in order to better explain the core message.
Why we tell stories
  • Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages;
  • Stories bring people together: stories connect us through the way we feel and respond to them;
  • Stories inspire and motivate, by tapping into people’s emotions and baring both the good and bad.
Good stories are …
  • Entertaining. Good stories keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
  • Educational. Good stories spark curiosity and add to the reader’s knowledge bank.
  • Universal. Good stories are relatable to all readers and tap into emotions and experiences that most people undergo.
  • Organized. Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps readers absorb it.
  • Memorable. Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the reader’s mind.

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Pete Docter

“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some ..."

Pete Docter
Pixar’s Plotting Techniques For Structure And Purpose

The Story Spine structure: Once upon a time there was [blank]. Every day, [blank]. One day [blank]. Because of that, [blank]. Until finally [bank].

A story’s purpose: find why you want to tell this story, what belief of yours fueled that story, what does it teach and its purpose. Stories with a purpose that you are passionate about have a bigger impact.

Jon Westenberg
Jon Westenberg

“Storytelling is the greatest technology that humans have ever created.” 

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Our brain on stories

A story can put your whole brain to work.

When we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we wou...

We are wired for storytelling

A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long.

Giving suggestions

Exchange giving suggestions for telling stories.

A story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.

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Storytelling is essential to living

Stories are the primary way through which we make sense of our world. We explain ideas by telling stories.

Even science uses storytelling when they use data of the physical world to ex...

The brain’s reward system

When the brain pieces separate bits of an image together to form a coherent picture, it is known as pattern recognition. Once we recognize a pattern, it can spark a degree of pleasure, often described as that "a-ha" moment.

Where science and story meet

Despite the verities of science, we feel compelled to tell stories that venture beyond the facts.

When we first see separate ideas, we feel obliged to find a relationship between the ideas to form a coherent picture. Once a possible relationship has been established, we feel the need to come up with an explanation.

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Old Vs New Stories

The stories in pop culture in the last century tend to be moralistic and have a clear demarcation of good and bad.

These stories have virtually the same structure of good guys fighting with...

Colour Vs Black and White

The old folktales didn't have a black-and-white narrative, and instead had nuanced characters with personality, and not necessarily morality.

In many old stories, the protagonist had a varied set of values, which were colorful and diverse.

Complex Vs Simple

The old complex storylines were not having a clear identification of what's good and what's bad. The reader had to figure out the details and the complexity which lead to endless discussions.

The modern tales provide a simplified 'colour by numbers' approach to understanding, with clear outlines as to who is the Hero with all the morals, and who is the bad guy who must be killed.

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Bring People Into Your World

Walt Disney took suspension of reality a step further building theme parks that brought people into his world. You can bring people into your world through storytelling and brand activation.

...

Suspend Reality

Suspending reality is a powerful storytelling technique as it creates a safe, magical world in which to contend with powerful emotions and themes, and it allows the viewer or listener to be transported and associate that escape from reality with the story.

Anything is possible and that becomes inspiration.

Focus on Shared Desires

Disney stories have a near universal appeal because they are designed around struggles and desires that are common to humans everywhere.

You can apply this message to storytelling in your company, too. When you’re communicating with your customers, you should focus on the shared experiences and desires that make your product so valuable.

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Hardwired for Stories

We love to tell and listen to stories. The 'Story Narrative' is hardwired in us, as we think and remember in stories.

A strong narrative can be the difference between succes...

Creative Problem Solving

Human beings are able to creatively solve problems, alone or in a group. This has given rise to many inventions, shaping common goals shared by a group of people.

We needed a 'sticky' idea to spread it among people, and the story narrative is exactly that.

Relating To The Characters

Stories cater to our Ego. A listener puts himself in the shoes of the protagonist of a story, and an idea is given emotional heft and sturdiness.

The more we are able to relate to the central character, the more engaging, effective and memorable a story narrative becomes.

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Steve Jobs

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of ..."

Steve Jobs
Storytelling Is Everything

Whether it's telling inspiring stories to customers or delivering a presentation to executives and the board of directors, being a good storyteller helps us make the leap from Good to Great.

Product managers and designers can benefit tremendously by great storytelling, and so can anyone who is working with product design.

Purpose

Instead of selling products, we need to focus on their purpose and what good it does for the end-user. Focus on the need of the customer and design the product around it.

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