I was posed with a question the other day: a friend of mine asked why people love “exciting” stories, yet the most popular ones are what he called “archetypal”–stories that follow a basic structure in terms of plot, character development, and so on. We’ll assume that in this situation “exciting” means to differentiate from this storytelling norm.
The reason people may say they enjoy these exciting stories when they’d rather indulge in simpler fare can be related back to what Robert Hanson was saying: many people are more boring than they actually think. People may say that they enjoy books or films with unconventional plot devices and non-traditional storylines so that they may appear to others as being unique and different. Perhaps they perceive that this individuality indicates being finely cultured (a.k.a. a way of promoting one’s own ego), and that they won’t look like some uncultured hermit that’s been living under a rock for the past few years.
It’s all about making others believe you know what you’re talking about and making yourself appear more interesting than others. Seriously, if the public was more enthralled by stories that broke away from conventional story blueprints and overused literary devices we wouldn’t see teen (paranormal) love stories dominating the New York Times Bestsellers List or action-thriller movies topping the box office.