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Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Great Guru Showdown: The Archive

It’s never a bad time to run my big-ass concordance of everybody’s structure (NEWLY UPDATED to include Dan Harmon’s Story Circle and Film Crit Hulk’s Five-Act Structure!) 

The first few posts here made it into the book, but then there’s lot of good stuff that didn’t make it in.  I made my own graphics for lots of these!  Ah, to be young again...

5 comments:

James Kennedy said...

It might be worth updating to include Dan Harmon's story circle.

I'd be interested in getting your take on Harmon's system, because Dan Harmon is one of the few people who is both guru AND super-productive writer of good shit. (People might like Blake Snyder's advice, but . . . has he ever written anything worthwhile? No. How about Robert McKee? Nothing significant. Whereas Harmon has written "Community" and "Rick and Morty," both stone-cold classics.)

When Dan Harmon was in his Channel 101 years, he had to watch a lot of bad movies submitted to the website, and he made a lot of movies himself for Channel 101, and over the course of that he forged a system that worked well for him and has worked well for others. Here he is explaining it on the Channel 101 website:

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_101:_Super_Basic_Shit

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_102:_Pure,_Boring_Theory

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_103:_Let%27s_Simplify_Before_Moving_On

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_104:_The_Juicy_Details

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_105:_How_TV_is_Different

http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Story_Structure_106:_Five_Minute_Pilots

To see how Harmon applies his own advice using the lessons above:

How Harmon does the story-breaking process using the story circle

Applying these lessons to analyzing an episode of "Community"

Probably only takes an hour to plow through all these links. But I've found that time spent with these articles is time well spent.

Anonymous said...

Time well spent? Most of us are familiar with Hero’s Journey gibberish already, and learned it from a source that doesn’t spend pages dividing circles.
Good advice is non-obvious, not vague, and backed up with examples that would sound stupid if the advice is bad.
I’ve only ever read one book about writing structured that way. It was the only useful such book I’ve read. But most people call it bad, because it allows itself to be wrong some of the time; they prefer religions like Hero's Journey, that is never to be taken literally, and always to be interpreted differently than you do, unless you’re a millionaire--then what good is is?

James Kennedy said...

@Anonymous For what it's worth, Dan Harmon's advice was helpful for me. And since Matt's point was to compare different gurus, it seems germane to this discussion.

Anyway, it seems that your points against it -- it involves circles! it's a religion! um, the guy who came up with it is a millionaire! -- don't do anything to address its main points. It's just abuse.

Final note: if I was the kind of person who wrote a sentence as nonsensical and vague as your last one, I'd hesitate before calling someone else's writing gibberish. Stone, meet glass house.

Anonymous said...

The point against it wasn’t that it involves circles, but that it spends pages just talking (about circles; it could be anything; the author is free to do that, but bloat doesn’t make good advice)
I get that it’s supposed to be a metaphor. Metaphors can be good writing, good at convincing, but generally suck at explaining.

The other point (about hero’s journey generally) wasn’t that the guy who wrote this is a millionaire, but that your interpretation of it is, by definition, wrong if you aren’t a ridiculously successful writer supporting it--just like anyone criticizing a religion is, by definition, getting it wrong, even if using an interpretation of its supporters.

Teccc said...

Thanks James,

I saw Dan Harmon's story circle a few years ago and thought it was really interesting. It works great for Community and Rick and Morty (obviously), but I sometimes have problems applying it to movies. Especially movies that are not comedies.