Throughout history stories have held many purposes. They explained things that couldn’t be explained such as solar eclipses and the day/ night cycle. They warned people of possible dangerous situations such as areas where deadly gases gather. They were used to talk about events that happened in the past. They had many purposes.
Today there are four purposes that a story written now can have for existing. Escape, entertainment, explanation, and extension. Four words that start with “e” that can be used to describe a story.
A story can be an escape route because sometimes we use them to escape from the world. We want to become someone else or something else, someone who is living a different life. Only we can’t so we follow a fictional character through their own story, one where we are not involved except to listen to the character’s thoughts. Though bad things may happen to the character we know that they are a fictional character and not be too sad about what is going on in the story though we will still be a little bit sad.
A story can also be entertaining. Stories can have characters who make us laugh and smile with their innocence and naivete. The story itself can be colourful and joyful. We enjoy watching people do things that we can never do. We enjoy reading about characters who have felt things that we may never feel. We feel entertained when we watch a well written story that isn’t just depressing or a sob story. This does not include tear jerkers though because those can also be fun to watch or read.
Stories can also be used to explain the human condition. There are many experiences that many of us will never have yet we are able to read about a character who is going through such an experience and completely understand what they are going through. We can fell the love, fear, joy, and hatred that they may feel as well as the pain. By reading such stories it is possible that we may become better people because we may become more understanding.
Finally a story can act as an extension of the writer. Almost every character, setting, and event in a story is a piece of the writer. What isn’t is instead extensively researched so that the writer can more accurately write about such things. Unless of course you’re like me and don’t research at all and instead use your experiences from reading books and watching movies to write something accurate. The characters always seem to change on their own, as do the settings and events. What never changes is the person writing the story. Also it is common for writers to place something in a story that is directly related to their personal experiences such as the Dementer’s from Harry Potter representing J. K. Rowling’s past struggle with depression.
So these are the reasons why I think we write stories. Some stories may follow some of the purposes, and some others. There are few stories that will follow all of them. I try to use them when I write. Also there is one more purpose. Stories are fun to write. One of the best things about being a writer is the fact that I can create people and places entirely using my imagination yet I know that they aren’t real so I can do write their stories out. A story has many purposes. Even today.