WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Running Circles Around the Competition

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #2

Two weeks in and I’m neck deep in research for the impact x SKYDANCE prompts. What last week yielded in idea plausibility, this week I came up in spades with story structure. I’ve been getting myself famiilar with the Plottr software program and there are many templates to choose from to help plot a story, novel, or screenplay. Heck, people have even found non-writing creative ways to use that program, such as meal planning and scheduling. More on the Plottr program itself in a future post.

Every writer has heard of the Hero’s Journey, at some point. Since a lot of my WIPs are more adventure/quest based, this seems fitting. Joseph Campbell introduced the world to the Hero’s Journey, or the monomyth, and it’s the foundation from which millions of stories have been built on ever since. I’ve learned a lot from this method and know that it’s something that will always be in my writing toolkit.

Something that appealed to me recently, however, is Dan Harmon‘s method of storytelling. Also known as Plot Embryo, the Story Circle takes the complexities of the Hero’s Journey and strips it back to its bare essentials. If the Hero’s Journey is the album release, the Story Circle is the acoustic version.

When I went on a deep dive of articles and videos on story structure, I found myself immersed in dozens of videos using the Story Circle to break down movies such as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and The Matrix. If you want to test the durability of a story’s overall structure, these two movies were made 22 years apart and the methodology is sound. It’s easy to google articles, images, and videos on the subject. YouTube has these great examples of Story Circle film analysis that you can watch here and here. Considering Joseph Campbell was alive over a century ago, this really proves the adage of “If it ain’t broke…” because it’s clear the stages that progress throughout a story, if done well, can stand the test of time.

Since this submission prompt was for episodic television, it was a masterclass to see the analysis of the Story Circle as it pertained to each episode’s plot points in Harmon’s cult-favorite Community. Harmon broke down the Season 2 D&D episode on his tumblr feed that you can read here. Of course, for those who prefer watching to reading, catch these Story Circle Community analysis vids here and here. I like how they go so far as to break down each character’s own Story Circle within the episode. When I’m further down the road in my story, I’m going to do a detailed analysis of how the Story Circle applied to each stage of my protagonist’s story arc.

What story structure do you swear by? Are you a structure loyalist and adapt your story ideas accordingly or do you like to switch things up? I know the rabbit hole is never ending, but, I’m curious. Are you a fan of analysis vids or is it just me? As a visual learner I absorbed more information on story structure by watching these videos than combing through thousands of words on the subject matter.

Regardless of which method you choose, and there are plenty more out there to choose from, you can see the similar paths on the protagonist’s journey. These are different perspectives of a timeless and effective method of storytelling.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

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