Weekend Reading

From Lucinda Betts: a truly fascinating article on why and how our brains are wired to enjoy stories. Seriously – worth a read over your morning weekend coffee.

We tell stories about other people and for other people. Stories help us to keep tabs on what is happening in our communities. The safe, imaginary world of a story may be a kind of training ground, where we can practice interacting with others and learn the customs and rules of society. And stories have a unique power to persuade and motivate, because they appeal to our emotions and capacity for empathy.

Storytelling is one of the few human traits that are truly universal across culture and through all of known history.


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  1. 1
    Lee Rowan says:

    This article touches on some of the reasons I write (and prefer) happy endings.  I’m very aware that real life ain’t that way—but I’ve worked with people who behaved as though they learned their social skills from soap operas, which are notorious for the ‘temporary’ happy ending, where a couple that marries on Friday may be knee-deep in infidelity a month later.  Feh.  Save me from thedrama-llamas!  I think it’s more interesting to give characters some brains and heart and let them find happy resolutions.

    Life isn’t perfect; no argument there.  But giving readers models of characters who face problems together, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and work to resolve issues so that there can be two winners instead of a winner and a loser… I think that’s the sort of story that’s worth writing.  People seem to forget that one of the big functions of storytelling is teaching.

    Some folks seem to adore soap opera bitches; I don’t see the attraction.  Where’s the achievement in living down to one’s nastiest impulses, teaching ways to stifle empathy and be more selfish?  Any politician can do that.  “Edgy” is fine if you’re chopping carrots or shaving… not so great to live with 24/7.

    want87… I want 87 seats in Congress to go blue.

  2. 2
    Wendy says:

    This is a fascinating topic and a good bolster to the ‘worth’ of genre fiction when it’s judged by snobbish types.

    I have a friend who looks down her nose at my fiction reading tastes (I will read almost anything, fiction or non-fiction, but she seems to believe I only read fantasy/SF just because that’s my favourite type, and the type I write; and anyway, so what if it was the only type I read?) and it’s good to be able to point to the long history and function of storytelling in the context of how it engages and teaches the reader…arguably genre fiction is far better at that than literary fiction with its often depressing themes and representations of dysfunction.

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