If you’re anything like me, a good story can trigger some deep emotions. Sometimes I can feel the hero’s pain almost physically. Or their hope, their struggles, their happiness … even if I’ve never been in a situation that’s even remotely similar to the hero’s situation.
That’s one of the fascinating aspects of stories. They allow us to experience a taste of a different life. A life that’s unlike our own, maybe vastly so. Stories allow us to participate in experiences we could (or would) never make ourselves – such as being cast away.
It works because as humans, we are exceptional at empathizing with others, even if their life is different than ours. What it takes to have these feelings from a story is not that it’s a situation that we have encountered ourselves but that it’s a situation that we can relate to.
The fascinating part is that this works even if the story is not real. Even if it’s about a fictional situation.
Or about the future – something that is not real, yet.
Through powerful stories you can give people a glimpse of a possible future. A future that they can taste now – through the story – and then, based on that experience and the emotions they had during the experience, decide to go for it (or not). If you start with empathy you can trust your audience with that decision.
Does your story achieve that level of tension?