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The Science of Story for Writers

From the time our children can talk they ask us to “tell them a story.” We collectively spend millions of dollars buying children’s books and taking our kids and grandkids to the movies. Why? Because human beings are created for story.

“The telling of tales does more than entertain,” writes Lee Gutkind, the godfather of creative nonfiction. “It transmits important information between generations, making important events of the past relevant.”[1]

Stories are all around us and we spend a large amount of our time every day in imaginary worlds—some of our own making and others in books, television, movies, podcasts, radio—the list goes on and on.

“Neuropsychologists are discovering that the impulse for story is likely hard-wired into our brains,” Gutkind explains.[2]

Stories are an important part of how human beings think and process reality. As writers we should always be on alert for stories that will make an impact. One of my books is about survivor of the Holocaust who lost most of her family to the diabolical Nazis. When I shared this remarkably moving story with an acquisitions editor at a writer’s conference, he responded that it was “a story that needed to be told.”

And that is our job—to tell the stories that need to be told.

Learn more in Craig’s new book, Telling the Truth: How to Write Narrative Nonfiction, Biography and Memoir—coming soon from Bold Vision Books.

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