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60 Ways to Create and Heighten Conflict
Why Do We Love Stories?
by: Ian Irvine
Stories dominate our daily lives, in books, movies, TV, games, jokes. Newspaper articles are called stories; even songs tell stories; even advertisements. But why do all humans crave stories? For many reasons, including escapism and to learn about life, but most of all to relate to the characters (Cleaver, Immediate Fiction).
Relating to the characters is what makes a story real, but how does this work? Relating means making an emotional connection, and the emotions we’re feeling when we read a story are the emotions of the characters (enhanced by our own lives and experiences). What they feel, we feel. The better the story, the more we lose ourselves in the lives of the characters and the more we become them, through identification.
Identification is why the reader reads and the writer writes. It’s our deepest social need and at the heart of all human interaction. We cannot identify with someone in a story unless their character is revealed to us, and revealing character should be the author’s main purpose. But how do we do it?