Following the dramatic ending of HBO’s Game of Thrones, a tsunami of raw emotion poured through Social Media. This GoT me thinking.
Why do some stories rock our world?
Yeah, yeah, I know the textbook answers:
- Emotion, emotion, emotion
- Strong characters we care about
- well constructed plots
- fresh writing
- yada, yada
But, I gotta say, it has to be more than that. There’s a magic to a good story that cannot be deconstructed into a neat parcel. And Game of Thrones has that magic.
Stories that Stand Out
While I have an English degree and have read widely for years, I’ve witnessed only two storylines that garnered this kind of attention:
- The Harry Potter stories by J.K. Rowling
- The Game of Thrones, books, created by George R.R. Martin and TV adaptation written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
What Makes Them Different?
Oh, if I could figure out their secret sauce! I can’t, of course. They are so brilliantly written. Still, I’ll muse about this …
- GoT has fire-breathing dragons, zombies, evil monarchs, innocent bystanders, scandalous sex and a wise dwarf, who tap our emotions, imagination and collective unconscious. A lot of these elements can be identified in the textbook things-to-do list I wrote above, but Martin goes beyond the normal realm of storytelling. To my mind, far beyond. He touches us intimately with stories of heroism, horror, and love. His world is not always kind, but it is always real within its own terms.
- Harry Potter stories revolve around the little boy who we meet living underneath the stairs in his uncle’s home, feeling unworthy, unloved and helpless in a world that has discarded him. Who doesn’t relate to this guy? I know that sounds absurd, but it’s true. Everyone relates to Harry.
The Importance of Story
Since the beginning of time, humans have told stories. It’s the way we pass information along. It’s one of our earliest recollections. Storytelling is an important part of all cultures. You could say it is part of our human DNA.
There is a lot of power in a good story. Scientists have found that stories stimulate different parts of the brain as they progress from beginning to end. They engage us emotionally. They entertain, and inspire.
Tell a stranger a piece of information and he might remember it. Tell the stranger a story about that information and chances are he’ll remember it (especially if there is a dragon involved.).
So What Did I Learn from GoT?
- greater respect for the genre of epic fantasy
- any fantastical creature can seem real if you create a believable world
- the textbook list is right, but there still is a magic touch
That’s what I’m pondering on this sunny morning. I wish you all a wonderful week.