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Posted by : Kuna (admin) Thursday, May 11, 2017

Habitual readers of Serenade journal, new readers, hello. : D Today's update is about a new column of the blog, the one about tutorials. Hope it will be of some help ; >

Since a while ago, I wanted to write some posts about a topic that I care a lot about, which is storytelling. As a reader myself, I always get curious about the reasons that bring me to like a story or make me unable to stop reading. And also: the reasons that make a story so meaningful for me. I have a crush for psychological studies of the attitude and how the brain works in habitual situations. In other words: why we get curious about something or why we consider something familiar and like it, etc. 
For this reason I couldn’t ignore a book called “How to write stories that brain get curious to read” (the Japanese title for “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron). It may not say anything very new (well, for me it was educational), nevertheless it neatly outlines concepts and explains how they relates to the brain’s psychology. I don’t mean to summarize Lisa Cron’s manual here, but I’d like to highlight some of the points she explains. Also, I’d like to put the accent on how we perceive reality compared to a fictional story, because I think that there lies the key to understand how to write a story efficiently. Many times I find myself with a good concept in mind, or with a beginning and an ending that I think work very well together, but I got lost in the process of finding the way to communicate them successfully to an audience. “Wired for Story” helped me clear things up! (Please note that what follows is partly inspired by "Wired for Story" and partly comes from my experience).

Why we read stories.
Let’s begin with something very physiological: reading something interesting, makes our brain release dopamine. Dopamine is the substance that usually is released when we accomplish a task, as to tell our brain we feel the gratification of the result, and that we should do it again. For example, when we are back from gym, or we finish a painting, a manuscript, etc. dopamine is released. Likewise, it's released when we read a good book or watch an engaging tv series as well, that’s why people like to be entertained by stories.

Regarding the psychological side of the matter: we love to read stories because stories can tell us about reality and how to get through it, while we stay safe at home. There will always be a main character who makes bold choices and faces the consequences for us. We can think about the story we read and draw some guidelines for our own life. So we can read the most troublesome adventure of all times without worrying about us being hurt and at the same time see how it ends. It looks very obvious, but it’s one of the main reason we are drawn to read a story: the brain thinks it can be useful information for our survival and push to keep reading.

For me, these two points are the very meaning of stories existence: the dopamine gratification and the story as a way to know the world.

How a story works.
So how does a story tells our brain “hello, I’m a useful source of information for your survival, read me~”?

First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to imagine how a story is going to unfold. Therefore, whenever they read an interesting first sentence they start to think how that story is going to end and keep on reading to find it out. For example, a story about a cheating wife makes us wonder “When is she going to be discovered?”, “How will her husband react? And her childrend?”, etc.

Second step. Now that you know it, you have to do that! : D The trick is to write something that makes the reader’s mind start wondering and imagining about its development or conclusion. Make a reader ask “What’s going to happen next?” or “Maybe is it going to turn out like this? Or like that?”

What to put into a story.
First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to link events. When we live our life, we think of everything that happens to us as connected to several other events. For example,  when two meet and fall in love they may think it’s a matter of destiny. But actually, it’s a sort of map our brain comes up with to make reality comprehension more simple for us.

Second step. Since we have this tendency, we should write a story providing events that are linked together to communicate easily with the readers. So, unlike reality where everything is random, in a story it’s always a matter of “destiny”.

What to not put into a story.
First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to ignore whatever is not directly related to what they’re doing at the right moment. If they’re absorbed by something, their brain will ignore all unnecessary information to better focus.

Second step: In a story it’s not the reader’s brain the one that decides which are the information worthy of focus, it’s the writer who has the task to choose those. In other words, the reader can’t tell apart necessary information and unnecessary ones so they will take everything as important. Remember, a reader’s brain imagines what’s going to happen next because they read something previously that made them wonder. If you write an event that won’t have any further development, you may forget about that but the reader is going to remember it and keep wondering what meaning is going to have on the story. Avoid unrelated things to your story.

What a story is about.
First step. You need to know that: in modern times, people like tranquility and routine. Having a job, a house, friends, love, etc. And have this repeated day after day as a sign of stability and absence of worrying. At the same time, they dream of some big change to happen in their life. Winning a jackpot, meeting a famous person who falls in love with them and other big hits : D.

Second step. As we said before, people like to read stories to have big adventures while sitting safely in their living. An entertaining story tells about a change and how people change. This is what readers get really curious of. How something started from A and ended up in B. Readers can use this change as a knowledge for their own lives.

End of first part : D I apologize if some information looks incomplete, I plan to write more about them in next posts. I'll greet every suggestion or comments.
See you on next update! : >

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