The Relationships Implicit in Something

STRUCTURE

What does it mean?

Other versions assert 188 or 510 steps in the Hero’s Journey.

Archetypical Cycle of Growth

The Hero’s Journey

You'll find advice on story structure ranging from formulas to archetypes.

How do you Manage Narrative Complexity?

A Pattern, Not a Formalism

Three Acts

Koch Snowflake

ITERATIVE PROCESSES

WHY WEAVE A COMPLEX NARRATIVE?

How to Write Like J.R.R. Tolkien in Three Easy Steps

Weaving a Complex Narrative

Natural Story Structure

Three Acts/Actions = Story

Two Acts/Actions = Rule: "I was traveling, so I had to find a familiar restaurant and then I was able to get a sandwich."

One Act/Action = Procedure: "I was hungry so I made a sandwich."

Minimum Container for Significance

3. Go to get what you really need.

2. Go to get what you didn’t know you need.

1. Go to get what you need.

Home Improvement Guide to Story Structure

Take a Basic Shape, Move it, Rotate it, Scale it, and Repeat it

SELF-SIMILARITY

Problem

STORY ITERATION

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Lord of the Rings

CHAOS

DYNAMIC EQUILIBRIUM

ORDER

WHAT IS COMPLEXITY?

“The Formula Behind Every Successful Movie”

Climax and Solution

Problem and Stakes

Last Quarter

Middle Half

The first half is about questions.

The second half is about answers.

Trying to Solve the Problem

First Quarter

Hollywood Formula

REPEAT

Distribute plot and character arcs in story time and space.

RINSE

Break plot and character arcs into Beginnings, Middles, and Ends.

LATHER

It Comes Down to Three Simple Steps:

COMPLEX NARRATIVES

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Three is a Magic Number

The Goldilocks Guide to Artillery

Bump, Set, Spike (Athletic Comedy)

Straight line, Straight line, Punch line

Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus, Bridge/Chorus

Hero’s Fractal Journey

= 50 x 100 + 50 = 5050

50

100

90

80

70

60

40

30

20

10

0

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 … + 100

As a child, Gauss and his classmates were assigned to add all the numbers from 1 to 100.

100

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

Mathematician Friedrich Gauss and the Number Line

UNDERLYING PATTERNS

Aragorn

M&P

Sam

Frodo

Return of the King

The Two Towers

Fellowship of the Ring

Offset Character Arcs

Lord of the Rings

And sentences.

And paragraphs.

And scenes.

And chapters.

And sections.

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

STORY SELF-SIMILARITY

Gandalf

Sauron

1. The Ordinary World

2. The Call to Adventure

3. Refusal of the Call

4. Meeting with the Mentor

5. Crossing the Threshold

6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies

7. Approach to the In-most Cave

8. The Ordeal

9. The Reward

10. The Road Back

11. The Resurrection

12. Return with the Elixir

**www.dunlithhill.com**

You don't want your story to look like this ...

If it should look like this.

Unless, of course, it should look like this.

Complexity isn't your goal ...

But it will be part of the picture if you want your story to reflect the world in which we live.

FORMULAS

ARCHETYPES

There are multiple versions of the Hollywood Formula. Which one is right?

It feels like writing by numbers.

By Deren Hansen

Do you know what to write for the "Belly of the Whale" and the "Ultimate Boon?

It could mean anything.

The structure of a complex thing is encoded in the underlying pattern. When you understand the pattern, what was complex becomes simple.

While the others scribbled sums on their slates, Gauss sat back and stared at the number line.

Then he wrote, 5050, and handed his slate to the teacher.

Beginning

Middle

End

Beginning

Middle

End

Beginning

Middle

End

Beginning

Middle

End

How Did Gauss Know the Answer?

He imagined the number line folded back on itself, so that every number lined up with another and the sum of each pair was 100.

Then he counted: there were 50 pairs plus the number 50 at the pivot point.

Hegelian Dialectic:

Pop Songs:

Joke Pattern:

Volleyball:

Many Things Appear in Threes:

Why?

Consider:

Prior to the advent of GPS and laser designators, you had to find the range to your target by trial and error.

Too hot!

Too cold!

Just right!

Think about how people tell about a non-trivial home-improvement project:

Why three?

Because it's the

Like the legs of a stool, each act contributes something essential to the story.

The three-act pattern isn't only about plots and subplots. Characters have arcs with beginnings, middles, and ends.

Characters progress through the beginning, middle, and end of their individual story arcs at different times in the narrative.

It looks complex, but it's a nested series of beginnings, middles, and ends.

You may assume order is simple and chaos is complex, but to a mathematician they're both equally simple: each can be produced with a simple function.

Real complexity lies in the middle of the spectrum and involves elements of both order and chaos.

A Koch snowflake is created by taking each line segment, dividing it in thirds and replacing the center segment with two others that would form an equilateral triangle with the one they replace.

And then repeat the process.

Keep it up and you can create a figure with a finite area and an infinite perimeter.

That means, you can zoom in forever.

This ginger root is a collection of lumps with two off-shoots.

This head of Romanesco broccoli looks like it's made of smaller heads of Romanesco broccoli.

And a fern frond looks like a parade of little ferns.

**Want More?**

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Solution

Stories have a beginning, middle, and end.

So do acts.

The Fractal Key to Narrative Complexity

A story shows how to solve a problem.

To be a story, though, we need to see a try/fail, another try/fail, and finally a try/succeed.

But each of those attempts is a story in its own right, with its own set of try/fail cycles.

And so on.

Notice how complex, with just three iterations, the protagonist's problem-solving trajectory has become?

It's kind of like real life, isn't it.

**COMPLEXITY**

**FRACTALS**

**STORY THEORY**

**TOLKIEN'S**

**EXAMPLE**

**PUTTING IT ALL**

**TOGETHER**