Stories, tradition, and narrative transport
How humans evolved to need stories
I got access to DALLE-2 so expect to see more wacky images in World Builders.
Today’s newsletter dives into how our brains are wired for story, starting with momentum, and an 87-year-old animator who worked with Walt Disney.
It takes about 3 minutes to read and you can check out the last one here.
A message from... Me!
The interest in this tweet blew me away...
One way to become a better storyteller:
Take your two favorite authors. I recommend one non-fiction and one fiction.
Copy, word for word, their best work. Do it by hand.
I chose Paul Kalanithi and Neil Gaiman.
It’s the single exercise that improved my writing the most.
— Nathan Baugh 🗺️ (@nathanbaugh27)
Jan 5, 2023
In my experience, there are two ways to get good at storytelling:
- Study the greats (what this newsletter is for)
- Practice, practice, practice
I do a lot of practice through StoryWork.
And so many of you liked, commented, and sent me DMs about the practice I decided to turn it into a guided course for you.
Check it out:
We're wired for story. In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there's a surprisingly simple reason we want to own, integrate, and share our stories of struggle. We do this because we feel the most alive when we're connecting with others and being brave with our stories - it's in our biology.
While I agree with Brené, I also believe the human desire for story comes from our evolution. Think about it – how were lessons and traditions passed down before the limitless archive that is the internet? In the form of stories.
Your brain evolved to prefer stories. For me, the most powerful evidence is that the same part of the brain lights up in both the speaker and the listener of a story in a phenomenon called neural coupling. But there’s more:
- Great stories affect listeners emotionally through “narrative transport”
- Stories activate more areas of the brain than just listening to facts
- Stories cause the brain to produce oxytocin (Harvard), a chemical that enhances generosity, compassion, and trustworthiness
1/ It's about change
A story is not just a series of remarkable events strung together. You (or your Hero) must start out as one version of yourself and end as something new.
Stories, at their core, are about transformation.
2/ Start with physical momentum
The first 30 seconds of your story are the most important. One hack to hook your reader and establish momentum? Make sure you are moving forward in the opening scene.
It sounds a bit strange. But opening with forward movement creates instant momentum in your story. And the audience will feel that.
In the early part of his career, legendary animator Floyd Norman worked with Walt Disney. He's one of the few people alive today who got to. Here, Floyd calls Walt "the world's greatest storyteller."
Floyd, at age 87, still consults for Disney. Goals.
Episode -- StoryBrand: How to tell more compelling stories for your business
Storytelling is the heart of content marketing. A great story about a mediocre product can move more units than an incredible product backed by a boring story.
Listen on Spotify.
One Rabbit Hole
I asked Twitter for the best storytellers and got 100+ great answers. It gave me a slew of new people to study.
Who is the best storyteller you’ve read or listened to?
I want to write deep dives on how they do it (process + frameworks)
— Nathan Baugh 🗺️ (@nathanbaugh27)
Aug 11, 2022
The best part of writing World Builders is knowing 22,872 storytellers, creators, and entrepreneurs (like you) are on the other side of the screen.
That’s about 45,744 eyeballs.
If you wanna get some of those eyeballs on your brand, fill out this sponsorship interest form.
Talk next week,