Nearly every writer has had to argue, or at least define, the value of his or her craft at some point. Those writing for publication have to do more than write for pleasure, they must figure out why the story they feel compelled to tell matters.
There is a book called “Wired for Story,” and it perfectly captures why storytelling is not only important but critical. Lisa Cron defines a story as this:
A story is how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve what turns out to be a difficult goal, and how she or he changes as a result.
She breaks it down further by adding:
“What happens” is the plot
“Someone” is the protagonist
The “goal”is the story question
And “how she or changes” is what the story itself is actually about
By why does it matter?
Lisa goes on to explain that humans actually crave good stories and children as young as three can tell a good story from a bad one. A good story makes reader connect with and care about the protagonist’s struggle. And, the protagonist’s internal struggle is more important than the external obstacles w/he faces.
The key is making readers curious about what will happen next and draw them into the story so that they experience the story alongside the protagonist. Stories allow readers to live out scenarios they might not ever experience on their own.
Lisa gives a wonderful example of why stories matter:
Neuroscientists believe the reason our already overloaded brain devotes so much precious time and space to allowing us to get lost in a story is that without stories, we'd be toast. Stories allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them. This was a matter of life and death back in the Stone Age, when if you waited for experience to teach you that the rustling in the bushes was actually a lion looking for lunch, you'd end up the main course.
Humans are truly Wired for Story. The trick is writing a story they will care about.