A few years ago I was writing curriculum on The Art of Storytelling for Filmmaking and teaching for the film program at our local performing arts high school. What a great adventure that was! Along the way, I had the chance to discover the work of Dan Harmon, an LA-based screenplay and writer for television. Harmon is one of those circle thinkers. A 2011 article in Wired Magazine helps to bring that idea home, and gives a sketch of Harmon’s powerful writers’ tool: The Circle of 8ths.
The very thing that drew me to Dan Harmon’s work was his parallels with Joseph Campbell’s work on the Hero’s Journey. Campbell’s work is revered as seminal, groundbreaking in the storytelling community. In essence, it offers a journey through time and space that presents 12 key moments in the protagonist’s journey through the story. The 12 moments represent pivotal instants in the story that create change and propel decisions that will allow the story. and it symbolism, to unfold. We all analyze, consider, shift and shake at its influence in the development of both character arc and story arc. The archetypes that Campbell eloquently offered give storytellers ley-lines to magnetically pull us into powerful story crafting. Where we go from there is our own spark, but the Hero’s Journey is a powerful way to ignite a tale!
Along comes Dan Harmon , who explores and outlines a more direct route to essential story truths. Yes, a simplified version of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Here is an essay that Harmon wrote a while back. Give it a read!