Everybody loves an underdog. It’s one of those psychological oddities of humanity, like the fear of bananas. Nobody knows why but it’s no less real as a part of the world we live in.
There have been a few studies of the underdog support phenomenon, one even concluded it was all a matter of BIRG – that’s basking in reflected glory to those of us not in the know. The basic conclusion is people find it more satisfying to watch someone destined to fail (the odds stacked against them by flaws or circumstance) succeed against something else more likely to win. This has been around in books since the Old Testament and is absolutely key to the success of getting a reader to invest in the story.
Misery – the writer’s a mess, his feet have been chopped off, he shouldn’t win but we root for him to overcome and escape.
Fight Club – the narrator’s an oddball who fights himself, yet you want him to win the psychological battle against his split personality.
Spot The Dog – he’s been naughty but you want him to get a cuddle from his mum.
Personally, for what this opinion is worth, I like to think it’s because we all recognise our own flaws, the things which block us or leave us stuck, and we put ourselves in the shoes of a person with a fight on their hands. It’s not BIRG, not at all. It boils down to IIWMIWTWT – if it was me I’d want to win too. Which is much nicer than the other concept of underdog psychology: we all secretly want to watch the car crash unfold because we like to see other people suffer.
Books are a creative reflection of life in which the best stories take the underdog then have them triumph. Life, every now and then, also reflects art. Which is where Cynefin Road has come from. Bumbling into an established, giant industry, without so much as knocking on the door or really knowing the rules. And these are the kind of stories we’re interested in too – and not just the books themselves but the writers as well.
So, Hello! from an underdog looking for underdogs.
It might not be a fancy mission statement but, by all accounts, it’s not a bad starting point.
Everybody loves an underdog. It’s one of those psychological oddities of humanity, like the fear of bananas.