Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Storytelling Animal

We authors might like to think our drive to tell stories makes us special. However, humans have been obsessed with telling stories for thousands of years, and this characteristic has shaped our evolution. Jonathan Gottshall discusses this topic in his book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.

 Make-believe is an essential part of a young child's development. It's a way of practicing social and problem-solving skills. However, we continue making up stories our entire lives, and they're not always wish-fulfillment fantasies. Our nighttime dreams are more often nightmares instead of pleasant vacations. Stories can bring groups together and establish social norms. On an individual level, our memories aren't exact, but fictional recreations. Even our self-images are fictional versions of ourselves where we're always better than average and the hero of our own stories. People suffering from depression have more realistic images of themselves, but in this book, that's a sign of how important storytelling is to our mental health.

Storytelling has taking many forms during human history. We no longer depend on oral storytelling for our fix. We consume stories through books, video, and games. Even if reading fiction becomes a lost art, we will find ways to tell new stories.

In my Season Avatars series, there's a Goddess who calls Herself the Grandmother of Stories. Although She originated in a quasi-Polynesian culture, She is aware of events happening in other parts of the world. She uses her understanding of human and divine nature to protect Her chosen people and uses storytellers as Her Avatars. Even deities from other cultures respect Her.

Do your own stories reflect the power of human storytelling? If so, how? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If not for storytelling, all of our history would've been lost.
I think most people's self-images are really poor though. They think less of themselves then they really are.

Gouri Rani said...
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