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Storytelling, just like advertising, is an art, not a science.

“Logic is one of the great obstacles to progress.” – Bill Bernbach

Despite what we may think, we are not rational beings; we are curious creatures with illogical behaviors. In fact, we are defined by our idiosyncrasies and unique ambitions – our quirks give us character.

It’s foolish to rely on research. For the same reason you think it’s going to work it’s bound to fail because it leads to conformity, and the audience wants something new. Storytelling is an art not an audit.

Research is dangerous because it deals with facts, and not necessarily the truth. And the facts can be distracting for the same reason lawyers rarely lie, and can rarely be trusted. 

“As poet and mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all” – Edgar Allen Poe 

Research puts us in a position we have already been. From that familiar place we need to push the boundaries, and intuition tells us what barriers to break. We are motivated by intangible forces and crave original content. And when seeking originality the rules of convention are impotent.

Regurgitating research is like telling someone a joke they’ve already heard. Storytellers have the responsibility to give the audience what they didn’t know they wanted, or as an ad man would say – creating demand.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein

We didn’t know we wanted Alice to go to Wonderland until Lewis Carroll stuck her down a rabbit hole. And no amount of research would have told Mark Twain to put an orphan on a raft with a runaway slave.