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How to tell better stories Pt. 1

Lessons picked up along the journey so far.


We are all storytellers at heart some recognize and embrace it and some don't. The lines not to be crossed and pre-established guidelines on format turn blurrier by the day. The beauty in all existing forms of expression being freere is coalescence.


This is most apparent in the virtual spaces where communities come together around an idea and let it morph into something bigger organically nonetheless. Like how Reddit's r/place became one of the internet’s biggest events in history.

r/place appeared as a blank canvas on April 1st 2022. Participants could paint one pixel but had to wait 5-10 minutes to paint again. This cooldown rapidly caused strong communities to form for the sake of creating great artwork or simply just chaos.


Lesson: Embracing the storyteller in you inevitably leads you to other creators or them to you. This motion can fuel you and open doors to join great creative, authentic and organic projects.

Campbell’s Hero’s Journey/The Dan Harmon Story Circle

Timeless approaches can be consistently applied to improve any story.


Fascinated by the human experience Anthropologist/Writer Joseph Campbell studied stories from around the world and discovered they all shared the same template. Campell used this to create the basic structure and approach to the story structure of The Hero's Journey. Dan Harmon then swooped in a couple of decades later and made a solid replica with 8 steps.

These steps are great tools from story intro to outro and can help foolproof any idea or concept.


8 STEPS IN THE DAN HARMON STORY CIRCLE:

  1. You — Establish the protagonist,

  2. Need — Something isn't right

  3. Go — Crossing the Threshold

  4. Search — The road of trials

  5. Find — Meeting the Goddess

  6. Take — Meeting your maker

  7. Return — Bringing it home

  8. Change — Master of both worlds

These steps follow a character's pursuit of a goal outside of their "normal world." Their inevitable return finds them changed, even if achieving the goal was impossible.

Each of these steps deserves an explanation that does it justice. I will share an article with clear movie and story examples with further thought put into it.

Lesson: All stories need structure. The best ones always have elements of The Hero's Journey. A protagonist or subject the viewer wants to invest in. A journey where the protagonist or subject is tested and learns something. The inevitable return home. Start, middle and end.
Lesson: Subjects or characters that contain dualities we can mirror in ourselves make the most intriguing stories. This is just as evident with protagonists in stories but also the people we idolize in real life.
Lesson: The right steps are always uncomfortable and imposter syndrome adapts regardless of failure or improvement. So get used to both and use them as a fuel and compass.

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