Story is universal. There isn’t a society on earth that doesn’t tell stories. It’s no wonder, because stories captivate us in a way nothing else can.
And yet, until recently, story was primarily seen as a delightful form of entertainment. Sure, we thought, stories make life much more enjoyable, but they don’t play a necessary role when it comes to survival.
It turns out story has been crucial to our survival from day one. Opposable thumbs let us hang on, story told us what to hang on to. Story is what allowed us to envision the future and so prepare for the unexpected.
In the same way that food tastes good so we’ll eat it, stories are entertaining so we’ll pay attention to them. But for writers the real breakthrough is the discovery of what triggers that delicious sense of enjoyment we feel when a story hooks us. It’s not lyrical language, great characters, realistic dialogue, or vivid images. Nope.