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The Worlds of Story-- so much bigger than books and movies

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Originally Published on OpEdNews

Story is much bigger than the obvious applications-- storytelling, movies and screenplays, novels and fiction, newspapers, television and magazines. We don't live, think or relate without playing stories in our heads.

  • Politicians touch hearts by weaving their issues into personal stories.
  • Psychologists help people to understand their personal narratives and stories, then revise them.
  • Publicists use stories to promote
  • A good attorney doesn't talk to a jury without wrapping evidence in story.
  • Teachers use stories
  • What would religions and religious services be without stories?
  • Marketing uses stories to engage, touch hearts and sell.
  • Cultures are defined by their stories.
  • Knowledge management uses stories to archive institutional knowledge and expertise
  • Add these all up and they produce a story industry that exceeds a trillion dollars a year, making story one of the biggest businesses in the world.

    Our brains evolved to process and tell stories. Humankind is a storying animal. Story is one of the world's biggest businesses and one of the oldest. One might even speculate that a person who can use stories to explain the world, to sell or persuade has a special kind of intelligence-- story intelligence. I'm sure you know some people who are brilliant at turning what one person describes in a few words into a hypnotic story.

    Actually, it's been said that effective stories literally induce in the listener or viewer a kind of hypnotic story trance.

    A growing school of independent workshop presenters have taught tens of thousands of budding screenwriters, novelists, film and TV producers, directors and other writers their new models of story structure and story creation.


    At least eight software programs have been designed to help writers build stories, with artificial intelligence prompting the writer to tap his or her unconscious resources for creative elements. Some story creation algorithms have already been patented.

    At the same time, consultants have begun helping organizations by using stories to build community culture, team and customer relations, sales, visions, etc.

    Story is bottom up, building from and weaving together a tapestry of other stories, narratives and myths that have emerged over much time from the culture and the environment. Part of growing up involves integrating personal, family and cultural stories.

    There is a growing body of wisdom developing around the art and science of story-- story structure, character development, arc, myths, archetypes, image, sound, icon, meme, symbol.

    About seventeen or eighteen years ago, Thom Hartmann turned me on to the work of Robert McKee, probably the most popular presenter of screenwriting workshops in the world. He'd just written a book, Story Structure, which summarized what he taught in his workshops. I read the book then attended the workshop and it blew my mind with the idea that there was an emerging science of story that could make stories better, more powerful. It got me thinking about how stories were so much more than just books and movies. I started learning about how story was applied in its other worlds, and I asked the practitioners if they'd ever been to a conference where people from the different worlds of story came together. No-one had.

    So I decided I would do it. I was already running one conference on the brain and consciousness and another on Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. I organized the first multidisciplinary summit meeting bringing together leaders in different applications of the art, science and application of story, the Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and ran it for six years, until I retired from the conference business.

    Putting together the conference was an interesting challenge. I included people who had written books on screenwriting, story, sound and story, images and story, storytelling, psychologists, a minister, a neuroscientist, mythologists, marketers, knowledge managers, a narratologist-- about 30 speakers. I wanted to do like I'd done with my other two meetings, have presenters speak at advanced levels, beyond the basics. To make that work, I organized the first day of the conference as a kind of pre-conference intro to story day, where all the experts spoke for 20-30 minutes each, telling the core ideas that they had developed for their work with story. Twenty-five people participated from morning through night of that first day. I recorded it and for a few years sold the CD set for $149 then $99, plus shipping. Now, I'm embarking on a new project, offering a download file of the MP3s of the recordings with no need for shipping and a lower cost.

    Order it here and start listening in a few minutes.


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    Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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