I was reading in Wired Magazine about an otaku geek boy in Japan who met a gorgeous girl on a train and then documented their little romance on a message board. The story is suspected of being fake, a marketing ploy, a LonelyGirl15 for the otaku set. But it’s the story that people want, and they want it desperately.
Here are five stories that I think are tirelessly sought out by most people. There are more. Some of these might not be YOUR story of choice, but it doesn’t change the main premise. We NEED certain stories in our lives the way we need religion and myths and roadmaps for our future.
The Seesaw Love Story
Boy meets girl he can’t possibly get. Boy doesn’t much impress girl. Boy eventually wins girl over and we all feel for a moment, “Hey, even if I’m a bit of a loser, maybe someday I will get a girl way out of my league.
Variations: older woman, workplace fling, vacation romance, romeo & juliet, angry parents.
What it means: This is a story that gives us a drop of self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. We think, “maybe there IS someone for me,” or “love hasn’t come to me yet, but it might still.”
Bunch of lovable losers join a state basketball team with no chance of winning and somehow find their way to the championships, with everything riding on a three point shot. MTV buys and films this story once every two years with a different sport.
Variations: guy at work put down by everyone finally lands big gig, woman ostracized for trying to cross gender borders but wins big, most band stories.
What it means: this is the “hard work pays off” story. Determination. If you can work super hard, you’ll make it.
These are the fantasy stories. Harry Potter isn’t an underdog story. It’s a “you WERE a loser, but really, you’re part of a magical subculture” story. Lots of comic book stories are like this: a spider bit me so I’m cool, I found a suit of armor and a sword, I won the lottery.
Variations: Um… I just wrote some variations. They all involve you getting something for not working at it.
What it means: These stories are reserved for two types of people. One type are just having the worst time ever, and can use the fantasy of things magically getting better sooner than later (money windfall, etc). The other type are NEVER going to realize they have to work to get anywhere and hope these stories are really true.
Boy, these are easy. Bad guy does mean things to you, and you get back at the bad guy. A good lot of movies fall into this category. Want one you might’ve missed? Payback with Mel Gibson. No, it’s not THAT story.
Variations: divorce fantasies, fight movies, martial arts flicks, work dramas.
What it means: these stories resonate well with people who often find themselves saying, “That’s not fair!” It’s a matter of feeling that life is supposed to be fair. While you’re waiting for that, just enjoy these stories, okay?
These stories are my personal favorite. They tell of some clandestine group that no one else seems to know about. They are world-deep stories where there’s a club or society or magic band or gang that the average people don’t know about. Vampire books are all about this.
Variations: magician stories, people’s jobs you don’t know about, some sci fi and fantasy stories, superhero stories.
What it means: you want more from life, and you feel maybe you just haven’t found the secret yet.
Which Story Do YOU Fall For?
If you stumble upon a story on the internet, or watch something on TV, or pay money to go to the movies, which story resonates with you? Which one satisfies a need in your belly? Have I missed an archtypical story? Sure. I’ve missed the Savior stories, where a lone hero comes into a situation and makes everything better. I missed tons of stories. Want to add a few to the comments?
And which story do you like to TELL, in whatever form you prefer? I’d love to know.
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