Theory of Writing - Page 2
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  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I don't always disagree with you, sometimes you are right
    I am? Is this a trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Perhaps 'rewarding' would be a better word than 'enjoyable'? I don't know. I don't want start splitting semantic hairs. If you have an interest in the death of coral reefs, then wouldn't it be reasonable to assume you might enjoy reading a work of fiction about endangered coral reefs? I'd suggest that enjoyment and interest are two sides of the same coin. Most people who pick up a novel do so because they enjoy reading, but, if the plot, or style, or characters cease to interest them, then they might put the book down, or, as you suggest, skip to the end. They stopped enjoying it. If you read through to the end, then, on some level, you enjoyed the book. Enjoyment = Pleasure. And isn't scratching an itch usually a pleasure?
    Well, if you got poison ivy on you, the scratching of your itch might be pleasurable. But you would probably try to avoid poison ivy in the future. And if books were the same way, you might avoid them too.

    I read about the man running for his life (why?) and killing himself (why?) to preserve a crucial secret (what?) And a CAT scan on his body 400 years later causes him to sit up (why) and sprays gold all over the walls (why?). About page 50 I realized I wasn't actually enjoying the book. It was how the author resolved these issues, it was chaotic or something.

    So, no -- just because someone keeps reading a book doesn't mean they enjoy it. Wouldn't books be more enjoyable if the chapter ended with a resolution of the current issue so the person could set down the book and go to sleep if that was needed?

  2. #12
    You said something earlier about why people read books.
    When you step back and look at entertainment as a whole, people don;t just want to be entertained; they want their guts in a knot, they want to grit their teeth and feel that burn of anticipation. I say this because I see it in other venues. As an example; talk radio. Many people live with their head in the echo chamber of conservative talk radio because it embroils them, gives them a fire in their belly, makes them feel something besides boredom.

    We also see this fire in the belly desire in gambling. Gamblers are not just about winning; they are addicted to the gut wreching stress of the risk. For some people, gambling is that thing that makes them feel different.

    And in reading, people want that emotional attachment, they want their guts in a knot, they want to feel anything but the boredom they feel all day. They want you to light that fire in their soul. emotionally speaking, writing, talk radio, and gambling all trigger the same emotional responses; they're the same drug by another name.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    You said something earlier about why people read books.
    When you step back and look at entertainment as a whole, people don;t just want to be entertained; they want their guts in a knot, they want to grit their teeth and feel that burn of anticipation. I say this because I see it in other venues. As an example; talk radio. Many people live with their head in the echo chamber of conservative talk radio because it embroils them, gives them a fire in their belly, makes them feel something besides boredom.

    We also see this fire in the belly desire in gambling. Gamblers are not just about winning; they are addicted to the gut wreching stress of the risk. For some people, gambling is that thing that makes them feel different.

    And in reading, people want that emotional attachment, they want their guts in a knot, they want to feel anything but the boredom they feel all day. They want you to light that fire in their soul. emotionally speaking, writing, talk radio, and gambling all trigger the same emotional responses; they're the same drug by another name.
    Revolutionary? People don't read a book for the resolution, they read it for the suspense? The purpose of suspense isn't just to make the resolution more enjoyable?

    That explains something to me. I was trying to help someone at WF. I focused on how the conflicts were resolved. I should have noticed -- the conflicts were immediately resolved! So it was mostly a happy story with small moments of tenseness.

    If that was true, authors might end their book with something gut-wrenching, like that perhaps some velociraptors escaped to the mainland.

  4. #14
    I can get excited by fixing a scene or understanding something new about grammar, so I don't really need any more excitement in my life.

    But I regret the triviality of most interactions with other people. And I love reading books about the real person inside that brain. Coincidence? Maybe not.

    So your idea is huge. What if there were people who felt like they had no real successes in their daily life and maybe even felt powerless. Could we write books for them? (Spoiler alert: We do)

  5. #15
    Member Garvan's Avatar
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    Humans Need/Want Stories

    To add to the discussion as to why we read - humans are hardwired for stories - we all want to be told a story. It is how we learn best when information is presented in the form of a story -
    It turns out that your mind was evolutionarily hardwired long before birth to think in specific story terms… Evolutionary biologists confirm that 100,000 years of reliance on stories have evolutionarily hardwired a predisposition into human brains to think in story terms. We are programmed to prefer stories and to think in story structure.
    The reason story seems simplistic is because it comes naturally to every human. Through the ages the human brain has evolved to process information by turning it into a story form conducive to understanding. The result is that story comes as naturally to us as learning to speak and understand language. This is how we “interpret” the facts, or “make sense of a situation.” The fact is the human brain is hardwired to take in information and process it through a story structure!
    The "human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor," says Jonathan Haidt. Certainly, we use logic inside stories better than we do outside. Leda Cosmides and John Tooby have shown that the Wason Selection Test can be solved by fewer than 10% as a logic puzzle, but by 70-90% when presented as a story involving detection of social-rule cheating. Such social-rule monitoring was evolutionarily crucial because as Alison Gopnik notes “other people are the most important part of our environment.” In our ultra-social species, social acceptance matters as much as food. Indeed violating social rules can exclude you from group benefits, including shared food.
    It is how we interact best -

    [QUOTE]In his book, Story Proof: the science behind the startling power of story, Hendall Haven unveils research and studies that validate “stories are more efficient and effective structural vehicles when used to motivate, or teach and communicate factually, conceptual, and tacit information (attitudes, beliefs, values, and cultural expectations). Stories belong as the bedrock of management, leadership, education, outreach, and general communication efforts.”It turns out that your mind was evolutionarily hardwired long before birth to think in specific story terms…

    Evolutionary biologists confirm that 100,000 years of reliance on stories have evolutionarily hardwired a predisposition into human brains to think in story terms. We are programmed to prefer stories and to think in story structure.Unconscious portions of our human brains process raw sensory input and pass it to intermediate processing areas of the brain. These areas… are the exact areas that are activated when humans create stories.

    The output of these regions is fed to the conscious mind for consideration. In other words, the brain converts raw experience into story form and then considers, ponders, remembers, and acts on the self-created story, not the actual input experience![/QUOTE

    ]We even "link" up with the person telling us the story emotionally -

    When we tell stories to others that have helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it, can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton: “...the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains.”


    That isn't even half of it - because we are hardwired to listen to stories and because stories have played such an important part in our understanding of the world around us our brains reward us for listening and engaging with a story. Your brain releases endorphins, dopamine and serotonin when you are presented with a resolution to a story - which is why we say an ending was "satisfying" because it was, it made us feel better, satisfied - or a character you are emotionally connected to escapes death or defeats the bad guy or whatever the events are.

    Add to this the fact that we are actually not ourselves when we are fully engaged with a story - MRI's have been done to people viewing movies and they literally disconnect with who they are - they become the person that they are most attracted to on screen. Because the corresponding parts of our brains light up when reading or hearing certain things this experience can feel real to the viewer or reader as often we have a "visual" movie running through our heads as we read.

    Which is why you keep reading even when you don't like the story is because your brain is hacked by a good writer, one who is engaging your brain and rewarding it through the high of emotions - tension and release - adrenaline and endorphins. You are literally "hooked" on the story.

    This leads to the original question about the Theory of Writing - the "traditional" story arc - I can't find the article right now but there was a study done that showed that the common arc of storytelling (set up, build to climax and resolution) makes us feel good. It makes our brain release happy hormones and we feel contented and or alternatively gripped by the adrenaline of a tense moment. Either way, we have created a system that most engages us and holds us captured often "against" our will; the inability to put a book down even if we need to sleep or eat or do other everyday things as an example.

    We literally can't help ourselves when it comes to being told a story - all that has happened is that our brains have decided that they prefer the format of novels and books over either more verbal or visual formats.
    Last edited by Garvan; January 15th, 2018 at 06:14 AM. Reason: fix spacing as for some reason when I first joined there was an issue.

  6. #16
    Hi Garvan. Welcome to WF, and thanks, I like thinking about science.

    The story in my mind is that the researcher found a story with a good ending, then tested people, and found out that their brains released endorphins and serotonin during that ending. That suggests that they liked the good ending. But isn't that just circular? I think I could write an ending they don't like. The hero has to fight the bad guy with swords, the hero would normally win but it's raining and the bad guy has much better traction, then the bad guy gets struck by lightning.

    I think I can write stories where the readers don't identify with the main character, and stories that are simple boring.

  7. #17
    Member Garvan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Hi Garvan. Welcome to WF, and thanks, I like thinking about science.

    The story in my mind is that the researcher found a story with a good ending, then tested people, and found out that their brains released endorphins and serotonin during that ending. That suggests that they liked the good ending. But isn't that just circular? I think I could write an ending they don't like. The hero has to fight the bad guy with swords, the hero would normally win but it's raining and the bad guy has much better traction, then the bad guy gets struck by lightning.

    I think I can write stories where the readers don't identify with the main character, and stories that are simple boring.
    But why write a story that your readers won't like? Isn't that sort of... defeating the point of wanting to write?

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Garvan View Post
    But why write a story that your readers won't like? Isn't that sort of... defeating the point of wanting to write?
    From a publisher or agent's point of view, the goal is to sell books. When that conflicts with the goal of the reader enjoying a book, my impression is that enjoyment is easily jettisoned.

    People are not naturally good story tellers. So the question becomes what advice to give writers about writing. (And I think readers.)

    Now, you can imagine the author creating conflict, so the reader reads the book (whether or not the reader enjoys that). And then a resolution of the conflict, which the reader in theory will enjoy (though the publisher at this point might not care). That would be classic advice; it was the assumption of your description of the scientific research. But how important is that?

    When I try to think of classic short stories that might have been used in that research, none of them really fit the conflict/resolution model.

    Hence the question of if and how people enjoy reading books.

  9. #19
    Unless you are and editor, or a student, reading fiction is not a mandatory activity. So if someone chooses to pick up a book and read it to completion they are doing so because they enjoy it (or at the very least, find the act of reading satisfying). Satisfaction, enjoyment, curiosity, it's all basically the same thing.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Unless you are and editor, or a student, reading fiction is not a mandatory activity. So if someone chooses to pick up a book and read it to completion they are doing so because they enjoy it (or at the very least, find the act of reading satisfying). Satisfaction, enjoyment, curiosity, it's all basically the same thing.
    You are simplifying rather than looking at the world.

    The people of Hawaii showed a strong interest in some news they received this weekend. It was fascinating. It was gut wrenching, apparently much more than any of our feeble stories. And yet . . . no one wants to do it again. I'm pretty sure they are upset that it happened even once.

    Yes, a compulsion to wash hands is in some twisted way satisfying. But not really. I will start watching a TV show, get hooked, watch the whole thing, and when I am done I will sometimes hate the show and myself. Satisfied? Not really.

    Or we can talk books. Some books begin with a mystery. I, normal human being except probably with a compulsion to analyze everything, will keep reading. The hook is in my upper lip. But, actually, it's impossible for me to learn anything about the characters when I have no idea what's happening. in fact, there is nothing enjoyable about reading when I don't know what's happening. Putting down that book is like not scratching my poison ivy. it's like not eating that next cookie -- it's impossibly annoying. But am I actually enjoying reading the book? No.

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