Humans have been telling stories for tens of thousands of years.
But do we really understand why?
And if we did, would we be able to tell them better?
We would be nothing without story. Story moulds who we are, from our character to our cultural identity. Story compels us to act out our dreams and ambitions, and shapes our politics and beliefs. We use story to construct our relationships, to keep order in our law courts and governments, to make sense of the world in our newspapers and social media. Even when we sleep, we dream in story. Storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human.
There have been many attempts to understand what makes a good story - from Joseph Campbell's well-worn theories about myth and archetype to recent attempts to crack the `Bestseller Code'. But few have used a scientific approach. This is curious, for if we are to truly understand the machinations of storytelling, we must first come to understand the ultimate storyteller - the human brain.
In this original and surprising book, Will Storr takes a scalpel to story. Leading us on a journey from the Hebrew scriptures to Mr Men, from Booker prize-winning literature to box set TV, he demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us using a dazzling display of psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience. With the help of world leading story-analysts and brain experts, he shows how we can use this science to tell better stories - and reveals the benefits this can have on everything from our creative endeavours and careers to our happiness and well being.
About the Author
Will Storr is an award-winning writer. His work has appeared in the Guardian, Sunday Times, the New Yorker and the New York Times . He is the author of four critically acclaimed books and teaches popular journalism and storytelling classes in London. He has ghost-written books that have spent months at the top of the Sunday Times bestseller chart.
`There's nothing else quite like Will's approach, with its illuminating, scientific take on storytelling. All writers, no matter what their level of experience, are likely to go away with a new understanding that will deepen and nourish their work' - Craig Pearce, screenwriter of Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby
`Will Storr is unparalleled in his skills in translation from psychology and neuroscience to real lives, and he writes beautifully' - Professor Sophie Scott, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
`Storr is irascibly good company, and has something approaching genius for marshalling his material' - Sunday Times
`Brilliant ... There aren't many authors who can range so confidently across disciplines and, if you go with the flow, you'll encounter some fascinating nuggets along the way' - Evening Standard
'Storr can open chapters like a stage conjurer, and his prose has an easy, laconic style ... a funny and companionable guide who confounds expectations' - Guardian
`Storr has done huge amounts of research ... he conveys it with a gifted lightness of touch that is wry and funny ... entertaining and fascinating' - The Times