What are stories? Why do we care? 001-01

The audience is introduced to a character with a stable status quo. Something disrupts the status quo, and the character reacts, doing their best to resolve the conflicts brought on by the change. These conflicts raise questions. As the character resolves the questions their perspective changes. They shift from a reactive to a proactive role, or vice versa, as the story moves towards the climactic conclusion. The story narrows to a single event, where the character either chooses or recognizes there is no choice, becoming part of a new status quo.

Every story follows this pattern. Most stories begin as close to the disruption as possible, spending most of the story in a mix of steps and setbacks towards the goal or climax.

Something happens, and we ask what does it mean? Sometimes the answer is as simple as cause and effect. The wind blew, and stone rolled across the road. Other times it’s a matter of motivation. Someone kicked the stone. Why did they do that? Now we have a character. Now we have a story.

Humans are always looking for meaning. Understanding why something happens, the cause and effect relationship, grants us some measure of control, but there are always new questions. Stories help us better understand these questions, or distract us with familiar things so that we can take a break from the eternal mysteries.

Nostalgia is the desire to revisit something, to remember the past. Familiar things offer us comfort, help create a sense of stability and safety. We know what to do, so we don’t have to try as hard. We can relax; certain in the knowledge that we will enjoy this, because we did before. The familiarity helps us connect our past and present, creating a greater understanding of the cause and effect which led to “now”.

Stories help to engage our minds with new thoughts and ideas, or remind us of old favorites.

Next Time…
Myths & Misconceptions

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