There are many definitions for the term story. Everybody from Plato to Weird Al Yankovich has chimed in. If you’re reading this eBook, though, you’re likely not looking for a philosophical definition. You’re likely wanting to know how a good story works, why it captivates the brain, and perhaps, how you can learn to tell one. If so, I’m glad. That’s the stuff I’m interested in too.
Whether you’re a speaker who wants to compel an audience, a business owner who wants to tell the story of your business, a writer who wants to write a novel or a parent who wants to send your kids to bed dreaming of other worlds, this eBook is designed to help.
Psychologist Uri Hasson of Princeton University spent a season observing the brain images of people as they listened to and watched stories unfold. His 2008 study revealed that while watching television, our brains are far from inactive, depending on what we’re watching. While watching a ten-minute clip of a Sunday Morning concert in New York’s Washington Square Park, only a five percent stimulation response was noticed in his subjects’ cortex. But when Hasson showed them Alfred Hitchcock’s film Bang! You’re Dead, his subjects elicited a 65% response. Stories cause the brain to come alive.
Last year people spent more than 490-billion dollars at the box office. What this means is we hunger for stories the way we hunger for food. Stories are a recurring commodity for which demand will never be fully satisfied. Just because we can’t see and touch stories doesn’t mean they can’t be bought and sold. George Lucas sold his Star Wars plot lines and characters to The Disney Corporation for 4-billion dollars. But what did he sell? He sold a napkin on which an idea had been scribbled. He sold a fictional universe of his imagination. In fact, in the contract to Disney, Lucas sold the names of more than 30-thousand non-existent planets. What did he really sell? He sold a story.
Stories do more than entertain, though. If you want people to understand and identify with a complicated concept, tell a story about it. Telling a story often creates a “clicking experience” in a person’s brain allowing them to suddenly understand what someone else is trying to say. As such, those who can tell good stories will create faster, stronger connections with others.