The Human Story

I was going back through my notes from Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig, entering them into a database I keep (I'll have to write about that sometime), and I came across his Third Rule of storytelling:

"The small story always matters more than the big story"

This particular rule struck me as something that is both true about life in general and maybe not worded in the best way.

See, by "small story", Chuck is talking about the human story.

"What we care about is the small story embedded in there, the small story that's the beating heart of the larger one. We care about the characters and their personal drama. We c are about their families, their loved ones, their struggles to feel normal, their attempts to do right in the face of wrong."

The human story always matters more. The human story is always what we relate to more. And building a better human story for ourselves in real life matters most of all.

This makes me think of two things.

First, Ted Lasso, the show on Apple TV+. I've been watching it lately and it's kinda perfect. It leans into the small story, the human story, so hard that the larger story becomes the barest of frames.

Second, an episode of the Ten Percent Happier podcast I listened to a couple of weeks ago. In it, Ravi Patel talks about the work he's been doing to build a better relationship with his parents and how important that work has become to him.

Both of these things, the fictional Ted Lasso and the very real Ravi Patel, tell stories about caring for people. Coach Lasso turns his team around by caring about them as humans. Patel deepens and enriches his relationship with his parents by caring about them as humans.

One of the most challenging things for me during this time of pandemic lockdowns has been leaning into that human story for myself. I'm very introverted and so part of me is very happy to be home all the time with just my husband, my kids, and my dog. But another part of me misses my friends and my community. A lot. So maybe I need to spend some more time and effort leaning into that human story.