Join Stacey Williams-Ng for an in-depth discussion in this video What stories are, and why we respond to them, part of Storytelling for Designers.
Let's go deeper into defining what stories are and why human beings like 'em so much. Since the earliest days of humanity we have been hooked on stories whether they were painted on cave walls, carved into stone, or etched into stain glass. The format of storytelling did, in fact, start as a visual thing. So we don't have far to look for some basic inspiration. Storytelling is a basic human function. And we know that storytelling is important to us at a cognitive level. As it turns out, stories aren't merely important for how we understand the world.
They are how we understand the world. We weave and seek stories everywhere. It's science. Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can't resist, says science writer Jonathan Gottschall in The Storytelling Animal. So this means your brain seeks out patterns that it can complete into stories. If that's true then designers merely have to provide the clues to allow our viewer's brains to complete the story. Novelist E M Forster summed it up as, story is fact plus emotion.
This is useful to us as a tip because even if we can simply remember to add emotion to our work, we're well on our way to using the power of stories. The famous example is, the queen died, and then the king died. These are facts. Of grief. Just those two little words add emotion. Don't we want our viewers to yield helplessly to our work? Of course we do. Now we might not be weaving tall tales on the order of Oscar Wilde or Dan Brown. But knowing the basic building blocks of the story can help us at every turn of the design process. If we know our viewers can't help seeking out stories in our work.
Then we can be more purposeful in leaving those tantalizing clues for them to gobble up. So, let's get started and delve into the tantalizing stuff
- Connecting with your audience
- Defining the structure (and protagonist) of your story
- Tools of the trade: symbolism, color, icons, typography, and more
- Using personas
- Creating a brief for your story