IS THERE ONLY ONE HOLLYWOOD STORY ???



NARRATIVE STRUCTURE.

Most of all films, myths, legends and stories follow this same structure.
Called 'a hero's journey', you could list hundreds of movies with these basic structures as their narrative story telling.
Thinking of Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Titanic, Indiana Jones, ... apply these elements and
see for yourself how a basic storyline can go.

For example, Gladiator (2000), Alien (1979) and The Godfather (1972) all are situationally very different. But on a structural and subconscious level, they're all the same. Sequence by sequence, the vast majority of successful stories follow the same process that pushes the Hero and Major Characters through the process of Transformation and Challenge Resolution. What this means is that you, as a writer, must confidently understand this structure use it to establish your structural outline and then superimpose your situation over it... . There is only one story."


CHECK THIS OUT FOR YOURSELF !!!!



Ordinary World – Limited Awareness

  • Prologue: Disorientation leads to suggestibility
  • Should contrast sharply with, yet foreshadow, the special world
  • Set an inner and outer problem for the character
  • The hero enters, is introduced, audience identifies with them
  • The hero lacks something, has a tragic flaw, or a deep wound
  • Illustrate this with inability to perform a simple function
  • Establish what’s at stake
  • Exposition reveals backstory
  • The theme is set
  • Call to Adventure – Increased Awareness
  • An inciting incident occurs to get the story rolling
  • It may be synchronicity, temptation etc
  • A HERALD often makes the call
  • The call often produces disorientation and discomfort for the hero
  • The call is often a loss in the character’s life
  • It may be simply the lack of any other options
  • In tragedy, the call is often in the form of a dire warning
  • Refusal of the Call – Reluctance to Change
  • Excuses are used to avoid the call
  • Hesitation illustrates the formidability of the challenge ahead
  • Persistent refusal leads to tragedy
  • Willing vs reluctant heroes
  • A THRESHOLD GUARDIAN may test the hero’s resolve
  • Conflicting calls may be given, leading to difficult choices
  • Meeting the Mentor – Overcoming Reluctance
  • A MENTOR is in the widest sense simply a “source of wisdom”
  • They may not be personified, or may be incongruously so
  • The mentor is often an evolved hero
  • The mentor archetype assists the hero in overcoming their fear
  • Crossing the First Threshold – Committing to Change
  • The first turning point
  • A THRESHOLD GUARDIAN tests the hero's resolve
  • An external event forces the hero to make a decision
  • The decision leads to an internal commitment to the journey
  • Their threat may be illusionary, the solution simply to push through
  • Resistance creates change and strength, hence the guardian allows the hero to grow
  • The guardian may be turned into an ally
  • A physical or metaphorical crossing is made into the Special World of Act II
  • The crossing is an irrevocable leap of faith, from which there’s no turning back
  • The passage to the Special World may be exhausting, frustrating, disorientating
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies – Experimenting with First Change
  • The first impression of the Special World should be in stark contrast to the Ordinary World
  • The hero is tested with a series of obstacles, although not life-death as later
  • A quest for information may lead to new friends or allies, a team may be forged
  • Enemies may be made through encounters with SHADOWS or their servants
  • A rival of the hero may emerge
  • New Rules of the Special World must be learnt by hero and audience
  • A ‘watering hole’ - bar - is a commonplace setting for these relationships to emerge
  • A bar can involve music, danger, flirting, gambling
  • Approach the Inmost Cave – Preparing for Big Change
  • Final preparations are made for the central ordeal of the adventure
  • A series of dramatic complications further test the spirit
  • In romance, approach involves courtship
  • Obstacles and messages: beware illusions
  • A THRESHOLD GUARDIAN may be passed by earning respect
  • The challenges of the past inform the journey
  • A second special world is entered
  • Preparations are made
  • Another threshold is crossed, possibly by emotional appeal to the guardian
  • A figure representing the status quo presents a seemingly impossible test
  • A shamanic territory is entered, on the border of life and death
  • The stakes are upped, the audience is reminded the “clock is ticking”
  • Archetypes in a group might be changed as reorganization occurs
  • The hero or group “gets into the opponent’s mind”
  • Breakthrough occurs into the inner cave, from which there is no exit
  • Ordeal – Attempting Big Change
  • The central crisis, the hero “dies” so they can be reborn
  • A witness to the hero's “death” can be effective
  • Relief from the ordeal leads to the greatest elation on the other side
  • The hero may not die, but rather cause or witness death
  • The hero faces a demonised shadow, a reflection of their own darker side
  • The villain/shadow may die, which should be extremely difficult
  • Death of villain should switch Act III focus to moral/spiritual issues
  • Villain may escape, to be encountered again at the Climax
  • In romance, the death may be of the relationship, betrayal etc
  • Or, the crisis may involve a sacred marriage – opposing energies are reconciled
  • If the hero actually dies at this point (Pycho) – who is the next hero?
  • The hero faces their greatest fear – an authority or family figure often
  • This battle of youth vs age – possibility of atonement
  • The ordeal signifies death of the ego, an apotheosis
  • Reward – Consequence of the Attempt
  • A time of celebration, nostalgia, love scenes…beware the cliché!
  • The hero takes possession of the treasure – perhaps becoming a TRICKSTER briefly
  • The treasure may be the gift of new perception gained surviving the ordeal
  • This new perception may create a moment of clarity, even clairvoyance
  • The moment may be of great self-realization for the hero
  • It may also be an epiphany for the hero’s companions
  • Road Back – Rededication to Change
  • New doubts and fears are overcome, and the hero rededicates to the adventure
  • Motivation may come from fear of retaliation
  • Expendable minor characters may be killed
  • The hero may run for their life – a chase – back to the ordinary world
  • A sacrifice may be made in the chase, in order to stall the pursuer
  • Variously, the hero may be pursued by admirers, or the villain may escape
  • A setback, reversal of the hero's good fortune, tests the hero's resolve to finish
  • Resurrection – Final Attempt at Big Change
  • The climax, where death is faced finally
  • A new personality is needed for the hero to return to the Ordinary World
  • It should reflect the best part of the old self and the lessons along the way
  • One function of the resurrection is cleansing
  • There is a decisive confrontation with the shadow – a ‘showdown’
  • The stakes are at their highest – it’s not just the hero, it’s the ‘world’ at stake
  • The climax should involve a choice that illustrates if the hero has really grown
  • It may be a quiet climax, a gentle cresting of the wave of emotion
  • Rolling climaxes may occur as plot and subplots climax
  • An emotion climax may lead to a physical one, followed by catharsis
  • Ideally, the story brings all levels to climax at the same moment
  • Catharsis, purging, is the relief following the climax
  • Catharsis is the logical climax of the character arc, the slow growth through the story
  • Catharsis works best through the physical emotions of laughter and crying
  • The hero may misstep at the last moment, before succeeding
  • A false claimant may emerge, creating the need for the hero to provide proof
  • Resurrection often calls for sacrifice, something given up for the greater good
  • The hero should have incorporated elements of the archetypes they met on the way
  • The change in the hero is outwardly manifested in their behaviour, attitude, actions
  • Return with the Elixir – Final Mastery of the Problem
  • The denouement
  • Completion of the circle
  • Repetition of an image/phrase/metaphor from Act I, but with new meaning
  • Completion of a task that was impossible at the beginning of the film
  • Achievement of Perfection – weddings/new beginnings
  • Open-ended form – new questions are posed, resonating after the film ends
  • A return should unravel in a surprising manner
  • Punishment should come in the form of poetic justice to the villain
  • Likewise, the hero should be rewarded in proportion to their ordeal/sacrifice
  • A cynical world view would inform the nature of rewards/punishment
  • The hero must return with the elixir – a literal or metaphorical item of healing
  • Love, change, responsibility, tragedy, sadder but wiser
  • If the hero doesn’t return with the elixir, they are doomed to repeat the ordeal
  • All subplots should be resolved
  • Avoid both overly protracted and abrupt endings
  • Focus on the central theme should remain to the last moment
  • One way or another, the ending must signal a sense of completion