Sharing my research for a book on story
Summary: In the interests of 'working with the garage door open,' I'm sharing my research notes.
One day, I hope to write a book about story theory.
The project began because I wanted to get better at telling stories myself. But, after a few years listening to podcasts and reading articles and books by story theoreticians, I realized that I had enough ideas gathered to write something of my own.
I structured my notes, got excited, and started to write.
As I dove into a section on narrative drive, however, I realized that I had a problem. I was writing about dopamine, and how it keeps audiences gripped to a story, when I realized that I didn’t really understand what I was talking about — not deeply.
The summaries I’d been reading, as useful as they were, could only get me so far. I needed to go to primary sources. I needed to internalize the neuroscience myself.
This started a months-long detour in which I dove into journals and academic papers to see if I could get my brain around how neuroscience and story theory intersected. I wanted to know the underlying mechanisms that made stories work.
I still have a lot to learn — I’m by no means an expert — but I did learn quite a bit. And it’s fascinating stuff.
Now, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I want what I write to be perfect before I publish. But I recognize that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” If I wait until my writing is perfect, I’ll be waiting forever.
So I’m trying to embrace the notion of “learning in public.” Write and publish, not once I’m already an expert, but as I’m learning; not at the very end of the journey, but all along the way.
In that spirit, I’ve decided to publish learnings from my research before they’re well-digested into a book. Think of these as my working notes.
This post itself is just a stub — a placeholder to get my foot in the door. More to come . . .
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A peak aesthetic experience is one in which a person is exposed to a particularly meaningful work of art, music, nature, or story and experiences tears, chills, a sense of being moved, or some combination of these.