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January 9th, 2013

Humans Need Story

Happy Wednesday! First of all, I have been writing! Woohoo!! My word count so far is 1,122.

School has started, and things are pretty great. Except that my body doesn't remember how to go to sleep early, so 8:00 class is a beast. What's so awesome about school? Well, it gives me a sense of purpose, for one, which is hugely appreciated after a lethargic and lazy six-week Christmas break. Also, this term seems to be heavy on story structure. This makes me excited because not everybody in my program has been writing and studying writing since junior high! And because I just freaking love talking about writing! And just like how studying anatomy helps everything I draw, by hitting writing structure and basics and organization hard in class, I feel like everything about my writing is going to benefit. In fact, this morning I found myself taking notes not only on the lecture, but about the how it fits with the organization of the story I'm working on. I have to remind myself that I have to think in terms of comics as well as regular writing (though, of course, good story is going to cross media).

Something interesting that we talked about in class is the human need for story. (It started with an assertion that that emotional need is satisfied by either narrative (i.e. books/movies/tv) or sports. Never thought of it that way...) There was some discussion of understanding where we come from, of passing on history, and stuff like that that you'd expect. But on a basic level, it came down to the idea that life is chaotic, and humans need story to get a grounding sense of cause and effect, and that there are reasons and consequences for things that happen. In other words, in order to function, humans need to believe that there is some sort of order and meaning in the world, and in the absence of other reasoning, we impose that cause/effect order on life through story. Player A got 3 points because he shot the basketball from X point instead of Y. The game was satisfying because even though the teams were evenly matched, Player B made a mistake and allowed Player C to make a brilliant goal that set his team ahead and they ended up winning. Character D is allergic to peas, so when the Chef was distracted by an argument with his wife and made a mistake on D's order, D ate the peas and got sick.

Since I come from a religious background and I believe very deeply in a universe of order and cause and consequence, this was very interesting to me. And it gives me a new perspective about what readers need from me as a writer. What are your thoughts?

I was going to talk about Plato and Aristotle a bit, too, but this has gotten pretty long so I'm going to end here. My school responsibilities for the term involve a whole bunch of projects, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do for Muse just yet. But I'll keep refining my goals as I go along.

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