What about storytelling? Some impressions and what I learned today

Storytelling has become what can be defined a buzzword of our time.

It is used in very different private and public domains, starting from the communication field, passing by business world and politics.

When I think about this word my mind goes to one of that video in which you can see someone’ hand sketching out on a white board what an out-field word is telling or to a TEDx’ style conversation.

In my opinion storytelling can be defined both as a method and a practice that tries to organize in systemic and attractive way the activity to report some contents to the public.

This attempt to re-organize thoughts and contents can be devoted to commercial, political or educational scopes but even if storytelling can be used to achieve different objectives, all storytellings lie upon commons features.

If we think that storytelling is nothing more then telling stories (I am sorry for this word play but this was quite useful to go through the topic analysis) we can understand the importance that many researchers and influencers are giving to the different narrative’ phases. These can be called “pity, fear, catharsis” – using an aristotelian categorization – or simply “suffering, struggle, overcome” or, as suggested by Kurt Vonnegut, they can be illustrated with graphs. Then again, Freytag explains us how we can theorize a universal structure of stories, based on the idea of a “dramatic arc” or “coming climax”.

Freytag theorization leads us to another crucial element of storytelling, that is the empathy or emotional connection that it has to convey.

If it is always more common to listen researchers – as Paul Zak – linking the creation of emotions to chemical processes, in my opinion this is not the only perspective from witch we can study the relationship between storytelling and emotional dynamics. A particular role is played also by the capacity of the narrator to create a sense of community and participation in the audience. Another important element is the capacity to keep engaged public by adding interesting or unexpected element in the narration.

Far from saying that writing stories and manage storytelling processes are easy tasks, the willingness to influence in a positive way the world or to get back in people who get you down is not enough to say the effectiveness of narrative tools, especially in a world always faster and full of contents. It is crucial to feel the gap by connecting emotionally, to entertain people.

And if it is true that when other’s emotion are at stake there can be some controversial effect, what is also true that bringing emotions in stories is inevitable since stories defines us.




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