by Matt Lynn
One of the interesting questions for any writer is why do readers read? There have been a couple of interesting articles recently about 'neuro- lit crit' (such as this one in the New York Times, or this one in The Guardian).
I won't try and get into the science of it too much, because clearly I'm not qualified to. And I'd probably get the wrong end of the stick anyway. But from the perspective of a writer, it's obviously helpful to understand why people like stories, and what triggers they pull in their brains.
Of the different theories, I was most impressed by the approach of the evolutionary biologists. They suggest we like certain types of stories because they help us think through survival strategies. So for example, the bulk of women's fiction is about finding a suitable mate (except with a few jokes thrown in).
And what about crime and thrillers? I'd suggest it's about identifying danger, and how you'd cope with it.
It's certainly a different way of thinking about story construction.