Stories sell, there’s no doubt about it. But they don’t sell because they tell people what to think, how to think, or what to do. No. Stories sell because they allow people to tell themselves certain stories about their own lives, problems, and habits.
In other words, stories allow whoever reads them to tell themselves a different story about who they really are.
Take the novel and movie Fight Club for instance.
- Some see it as a story about seeking an absurd form of gratification in fighting against another man.
- Others see it as a glorification of nihilism.
- Still others see a cautionary metaphorical rejection of our shallow, materialistic society.
- And a few recognize it as timeless allegory for the tough path to enlightenment.
And this is exactly what has made Fight Club so popular to begin with. Tell a simple story that has meaning on many different levels, and you’ll offer people the opportunity to draw the conclusion that’s right for them.
A great story might even mean two opposite things to different people. It’s polarizing. Some love it, some hate it. Those who do love it, they love it for reasons that allow them to believe in something they want to believe in.
It’s quite fascinating, if you think about it.
You could be blogging about fitness and health, and some might think of it as the right course of action; to be involved in one’s physical condition, to do your best to be in top shape, yet others might see it as a waste of time. Nothing but narcissism, or a shallow pursuit.
The really good blog posts tend to divide people, yes. The great ones tend to become the kind of stories that a lot of people could have written, yet they never managed to find the words.
The great stories tell you something about yourself that you couldn’t define, yet knew, on a mere subconscious level perhaps, that it defined you.