Storytelling as Evolution

Here is how evolution happens. Organisms have genes that dictate behaviours and appearances. These genes are copied at the time of reproduction and passed on to the offspring. Every once in a while, a random mutation enters this process. This means that a mistake happens when the genes are being copied and something changes in the larger picture, ending up with an organism that has a quality not found in any of its siblings. This quality can be a longer tail, a shorter hind leg, a previously non-existent thumb, an ability to breathe underwater, a larger brain, and a good many other things that you might imagine as well as I can.

Here is how storytelling happens. Storytellers have tendencies and styles. These guide their choices in terms of what kind of stories they like to consume as well as the kind of stories they create. When they create stories, they largely follow templates that exist in their minds – templates that decide tone, pace, and sometimes even the message of the story. However, these templates never create exact copies. In fact, it is well-nigh impossible to create exact copies when telling stories. Random mutations enter this process as well. These mutations are mistakes (for lack of a better word) that change the story (the storyteller’s offspring) in ways big and small. As a result of such random mutation, a Flash Gordon becomes a Star Wars; a Superman becomes a Captain Marvel; and so on and so forth. The mutation can take the shape of a character motivation, a slightly different-looking spaceship, a differently coloured cape, or something else.

What is common to both evolutions are two things. One is mutations. The other is the act of copying.

Creativity is a result of you deciding to copy. And it is a result of the changes that creep in because of you being you. You can not, no matter how hard you try, create something that someone else might create. If you tell a story, it will have you in it. You can not keep yourself out of any story that you are telling.

You and I and everyone else in the world is part of the genome that goes into the making of stories. Stories are the beings (gods?) that we exist in the service of.

#evolution, #parallels, #random-mutation, #storytelling