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The Storytelling Ring

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Sites throughout the WWW featuring Storytelling resources, organizations, events, and the tellers themselves. All dedicated, at least in part, to the vocal art of telling stories. Enjoy!

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Effective stories produce brain chemicals - 02/04/2013

Human Brain by BrianMSweis hypothalamus=red, amygdala=green, hippocampus/fornix=blue, pons=gold, pituitary gland=purple CC image from Wikimedia Commons Why do some stories 'work' really well? Why will some stories reduce an audience to tears, or silence, or a warm fuzzy glow? I remember telling 'Oh Luck of the Ugly', a Sudanese folktale about an ugly girl and her struggle to find happiness, to some Year 12 girls in a Brisbane school. Many of them had tears in their eyes and were strongly moved by the story. We talked about it and then I asked them, "What do you think boys would do when they listen to this story?" They were collectively derisive. One said, "They would just laugh." I said, "No. Year 12 boys listen carefully and, towards the end, go very quiet and thoughtful. This story effects them as well." How does a 'good' story bring about this effect? Well, it seems that effective stories stimulate the brain to produce specific two brain chemicals - one, cortisol, encourages the story listener to 'concentrate' and the other, oxytocin, to 'empathise'. As storytellers, we know that if we are going to tell a story it might as well be a good one. It needs to follow narrative structure and if you like the term, as script writers and movie directors do, the dramatic arc. It needs reachable characters, a setting we can imagine, a challenge or a problem to overcome and finally a clear resolution. Now, if the character is similar to the audience and, if that problem is one that a ...

Effective stories produce brain chemicals

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