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Linnea Sinclair

For “Why are we wired for story?” my Ah-hahs were more about my non-writing career as a high school librarian. One of the rationales for reading for pleasure during school is that it teaches children empathy. This article helped me understand why that’s the case. When we read, our brains are trying to make sense of scenarios to protect our physical or emotional well-being. Fiction allows us to experience other cultures and perspectives, and as our brain makes sense of it, we are also learning to appreciate the experiences of others.  The article also reminded me of the adage, “High school–where reading goes to die.” I think a lot of the classics that teachers and curriculum dictate students read, lack the sense of urgency and the magic, i.e. dopamine, and that may be part of why students start to think of reading as tedious around the time they get to high school.

Haha on the “where reading goes to die…” Okay, a sad haha. Yeah. You nailed it in that the reading choices don’t resonate to the kids’ emotional level or needs.

Reading teaches (or should teach) everyone empathy. Reading is where “I” becomes “the other.” That’s also why (and my regular inmates have heard this a lot) first person POV scares many readers. “I” and “the other” are indistinguishable. For some readers, that’s simply too intense.

For the other article, “7 ways to use brain science to hook readers,” what resonated with me was the idea that readers want to immediately know the characters’ goals. I don’t think this means the goal, motivation and internal conflict needs to appear in the first paragraph, nor does it need to be explicitly stated, but I do wonder if there’s a shrewdness to knowing how much information and how quickly to reveal that information to the reader. I also found it interesting that our brains want to figure out problems. This is likely why “telling” doesn’t work very well. It’s better to allow readers to feel emotions and experience events, therefore allowing them to make inferences of their own.

Well, yeah, kinda sorta. GMC doesn’t have to blatantly appear on the first page but we need to FEEL it in the background (if not in our face–genre-dependent) in the first few pages. Now, don’t confuse (and we’ll get to this more deeply later) the MC’s opening GMC with the over-arcing GMC of the entire plot. Very often the opening GMC is in exact opposition to the actual GMC. Dorothy wanted to run away from home. After hanging out in the Land of Oz, she wanted nothing more than to GO HOME.

And, yes, the whole brain thing is why “telling” sucks in fiction. 😉 

//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//


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