I don’t think anyone can argue the significant impact the written word has, particularly when formed into a story.
By their nature, stories (and when I say that, I’m assuming they’re actually decent, not mindless drivel or numbing propaganda) have an inherent power to influence us. Our thoughts, views, opinions on social matters, beliefs, and any number of other pieces that make up the puzzle of life.
Some narratives entertain. Some make us think. Some present characters who we relate to on such a deep level that when we read their stories, we wonder if the author peeked at our personal journals.
Truly powerful stories create subcultures through their influence. Think of Lord of the Rings and the impact it’s had on modern fantasy. Or the overwhelming success of Harry Potter, deserving its own section at Universal Orlando.
Or the loyalty and passion generated by Star Wars.
There are many purposes of stories and many results that stem from spinning a darn good tale and sending it out into the world.
We tend to overlook a few of those results.
I’m a book-lover, but I’m also a writer. While I haven’t conducted a government-approved, university-issued survey, I think I speak for many writers when I say that few things stimulate my creativity more than reading an excellent book.
I enter new worlds, meet new people, embark on exhilarating adventures, and it lights the creative spark within. Reading amazing books stirs in me a desire to write amazing books, to take my experience of being immersed in a story and give that to others.
Even non-writers can appreciate the creative nature of fiction. If you’re a fan of Brandon Sanderson, you know well what I mean. On a scale of one to five, the guy’s creativity level nine or ten.
We’ve all had a similar experience to the following conversation:
Me: “I love reading.”
Other Person: “Yeah? Me too. What sort of books do you enjoy?”
Me: “Hmmm. I really liked series X.”
Other Person: “So do I!”
Me: “OHMYGOSH, that’s so awesome. Aren’t those books amazing?”
Other Person: “I know, right? That one part when Y character dies. I nearly cried.”
Me: “Me too.”
Start a conversation about books, and somewhere along the line you’ll inevitably run into a person who loves books you’ve read and vice versa. Even if you’re only casual acquaintances, your shared passion about a certain book becomes an instant bonding point.
Same goes for movies and TV shows.
Such connections are enjoyable (finding out you’re not alone in your interests is always agreeable), but also valuable, as they lead directly into the next way stories impact us.
Community is part of being human. We’re made for community, and by nature, we tend to separate into groups, spending time with people whose interests are similar to ours.
When it comes to stories, there are many manifestations of this desire to gather in a community.
- Fan fiction sites
- Forums dedicated to specific books
- Facebook groups
- Comic cons
- Wikia sites
In a way, SpecFaith is a community, one centered around storytelling.
One of my favorite authors, Nadine Brandes, has taken this sense of community to a deeper level, creating a special group for people who enjoy her stories. Because what’s better than sharing opinions, discussing favorite characters and plot twists, fangirling (or fanboying—yes, that can be a thing), or joining together to spread the word about books you love? All in a group of people who are members for the same reason?
How cool is that?
Participating in such a community is a blast. And such interaction is made possible only through storytelling. After all, without the stories as the foundation, the house could never exist.
Just another reason why stories in all forms are amazing.