Because there are so many aggregators, sharers and tweeters of current writing news, I’ve been saving my notes from the web-o-sphere to things that I feel are permeating the air.  It never ceases to amaze me how totally unrelated circles glom onto the same thought pattern around the same time.

For the past few weeks there has been a plethora of stories and news briefs about how the human body and brain is wired to respond (or not) to pieces of art.  (The links for each reference are at the end)

It started with Adele’s sweep of the Grammy’s and NPR’s follow-up story to how certain rhythms in her biggest hit, struck a subconscious chord within the listener(s).

“According to Sloboda, that little vocal dip in there on the word “you” — that’s the key to triggering an emotional response in a listener.”

The gist of the story is that apparently our brains are wired to expect certain patterns in music so when we hear a chord that is not quite what our brain expects, it elicits an exceptional emotional response.

So what’s it have to do with storytelling you ask, well the HUFFPO responds with a (very similar) theory, using Shakespeare and Spielberg as examples.

It’s all about rhythm.  More specifically the building of tension, and the continual tightening of the nerves that culminates in the jaw dropping release – minute by minute.  Much like a high-pitched tone that shatters glass, or in Adele’s case can move (some) to tears.

Scriptshark jumped on the synergistic bandwagon with a post that highlights that the way we relate to stories is in direct relation to how our brains are wired.  The writers uses a Nobel Prize winning physicist’s study to highlight the disproportionate value our brains place on how an event ends.  More specifically how drawn out that ending was.  The rest of the article goes into framing of an issue, which if you as an artist have any training in how to accept and give constructive criticism this will seem old news, but it never hurts to be reminded.

For a somewhat more to the point view on how an audience reacts, Jacob Kreuger always has an interesting spin on the basics of writing a compelling story.  In this post he discussed how audiences hear dialogue. He uses the amazing dialogue driven opening of THE SOCIAL NETWORK to explain.  The script link is also included below.

And for the least cerebral and most relevant of them all — a TED video, it’s actually over a year old, but Don Hahn posted the link saying it was one of his faves, and Don is so amazingly generous and so prolifically creative, I always heed his taste. (if you haven’t done so already pick up his book BRAIN STORM, UNLEASHING YOUR CREATIVE SELF

(If possible get your hands on it’s precursor instead, Dancing Corn Dogs in the Night – but it’s out of print and I’m not letting mine out!)

Anyway — Brene´ Brown’s TED video on the power of vulnerability really gets to the pith of what makes a universal connection, which is key to understanding and crafting stories that resonate. (I’ve yet to figure out how to embed a TED video so this will open in another window).

The Power of Vulnerability

Listen closely and watch repeatedly, I promise it will take your stories from off the couch to top of mind.

NPR Adele article:

HUFFPO on tension:

SCRIPTSHARK on our brains:

Jacob Krueger on dialogue:

Social Network screenplay link (legally downloadable via deadline Hollywood)

Our time is up, my dog wants the couch.

And considering this picture is about 2 months old and he’s doubled in size, when he gets on the couch you want to get off.