Monday, November 23, 2009

Why can't we resist finding out what happens next?

You gotta watch this (scroll a bit down the page to see the video). You can watch the whole 30-minute video, of course, but if you fast forward to the 10:45 mark, you'll see/hear Ira Glass, brilliant storyteller on the radio show This American Life, tell a story about a story.

In between playing snippets of the story, he reveals why TAL stories are so damn compelling -- no matter what they're about -- and even better, he dissects why.

The story he's playing gets to a point of what's going to happen next when Glass turns off the tape and says, "At this point, nobody turns off the radio." And then he asks why. If you think about the facts in the story, he says, "This is actually not that interesting of a story. ... And yet, suspense has been created. Why? How does that happen?"

He breaks it down until about the 20-minute mark. It's gold.