Dan Harmon Story Circle: 8 Proven Steps to Better Stories

Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a creative loop? You start a script, get halfway done, but because you can’t figure out the ending, you abandon it, then start a new one. And then it happens again. And again. ►► http://bit.ly/2H4HiFY So writer/producer Dan Harmon tackled this problem. He took centuries of storytelling principles and turned them into an easy-to-use guide for building a compelling story. One circle. Eight steps. Understanding good narrative structure won’t just make you a better writer. It’ll make you a better storyteller. Today, we’re going to look at Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’, a film with a seemingly complex plot, that we can break down into the 8 steps of the story circle. The theory boils down to three sentences: (1) A character is comfortable (2) but they see something they want, (3) So they head out into uncharted territory to get it (4) but have to change in order to succeed. (5) When they finally grasp it, (6) they pay a hefty price (7) and return to their original situation (8) having changed inside (and sometimes outside). Keep watching and see how this applies to Batman!


“, How to start I’m hungry. , Coffee and a muffin.

Okay. So I need to establish the themes. , Maybe banana-nut.

, That’s a good muffin. ”. Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a creative loop? You start a script, get halfway done, but because you can’t figure out that ending you abandon it.

Then start a new one. . Then it happens.

Again. And again. .

So writer-director Dan Harmon tackled this exact problem. . He took centuries of storytelling principles and turned them to an easy-to-use guide for building a compelling story.

One circle. , Eight steps. Understanding, good narrative structure, won`t just make you a better writer.

It’ll make you a better storyteller. . Today we’re going to be looking at Christopher Nolan’s “.

The Dark Knight. ” A film with a seemingly complex plot. And we can can break down into the eight simple steps of the story: circle.

Step 1 You. , The protagonist. .

By calling the first step you, we create an active tense which creates an active drive that you and The Dark Knight is Bruce Wayne. In this step. We also establish the status quo of this world.

And, as you know, Bruce’s status quo is to fight crime. . Step 2 is Need.

, You need. , Adding a need for your protagonist begins their story. In the Dark Knight, there’s a scene where Alfred says to Batman.

“ -Know. Your limits, Master Wayne. -Batman, has no limits.

-Well. You do sir. ”.

It may be time to hang up the cape. . That’s the external need.

. However. The internal need is that Bruce also wants to be with Rachel.

. “ -You once told me that if the day came when I was finished and we`ll be together. -Bruce don’t make me your one hope for a normal life.

”. So now Bruce Wayne needs a third thing. .

A replacement. “ -He doesn’t want to do this for the rest of his life. How could he Batman is looking for someone to take up his mantle.

-Someone? Like you, Mr. Den’t -Maybe. ”, Step 3 is Go.

. You go. .

This is where your main character enters the chaos realm of the circle. . Batman needs a replacement.

, So he actively seeks that out in the form of Harvey Dent. The new promising D. A.

“. I believe that on his watch, Gotham can feel a little safer. ”, But Harvey also has needs.

. He needs to capture Lao. A key individual in Gotham’s organized crime.

Scene. , If Batman could deliver Lao to Harvey Harvey, can then put him in prison which allows Bruce Wayne to retire Batman and be with Rachel. “ -I get him to you.

. Can you get him to talk? -I’ll get him to sing. ” End of movie right, Not quite.

. Step 4 Search. , You search.

. When “ Go” doesn’t work, you have to keep searching. .

This is where the writer has to put a host of roblox between the protagonist and their need. . Just because Batman caught Lao doesn’t mean Gotham is any safer.

As they celebrate their victory. A new kind of criminal crashes, the party. “ Good evening.

Ladies and gentlemen. ”. This pushes Bruce Wayne’s drive into a higher gear, as the Joker unleashes a new crime wave on Gotham.

“. Some men aren’t looking for anything logical. .

Some men just want to watch the world burn. ” Section 5 Find. , You find.

. This step is critical. Here.

Protagonist finds what they were looking for in Step 2, but it doesn’t quite go the way they expected. . In fact, things go.

Sideways. “ Batman must take off his mask and turn himself in. Or and everyday he doesn’t.

People will die. ”. Therefore, Bruce Wayne decides to take off the mask, but before Bruce has a chance to do it.

“, I am the Batman. ” And once again, Bruce has seemingly great plan. Is foiled.

Take. You take. , Because once you get your hands on whatever it is that you want, you have to take it.

, But that may also mean that you have to pay the price as Dan Harmon puts it. In this case, Batman finally captures the Joker. , But The Joker reveals his trump card.

“ -Where. Are they -You choose one life over the other. , Your friend, the district attorney.

Or his blushing bride-to-be. ”, And he gives Batman a false location for both of them. , So Batman mistakenly rescues, Harvey but Rachel.

. This is the price Bruce pays. , The loss forces Bruce to reconsider his future.

And indeed has initial need. . Now he has no reason to retire Batman.

. The lesson here is that you have to push your antagonist to the brick. .

It can’t just be something bad. . It has to be something totally: devastating.

“ -But, Rachel, Alfred . . .

-Rachel, believed in what you stood for. . What we stand, for.

Gotham needs you. ”, Step 7 is Return. .

You return. He’s emerged from the chaos realm, but has suffered a heavy loss. He’s returning back to the start.

Altered by his experiences in second act, but now equipped with a new need. And Gotham still needs him, because the Joker has flipped Harvey’s moral coin. .

He is now Two-Face. , No, not that Two-Face. .

This one. Two-Face has a need of his own as well. To avenge Rachel’s, death.

“, The Joker just a mad dog. . I want whoever let him off the leash.

”, As these characters come to ahead what they have become on this journey. As finally exposed. Change.

You change. Change has to be made visual. .

This is often called testing the change or the final showdown. “ -What did. You do -I, took Gotham’s White Knight, and I brought him down to my level.

”. Batman has to stop Harvey. .

Unfortunately, the only way is to kill him. . Thus he takes blame for Harvey’s crimes and becomes The Dark Knight.

“. They can never know what he did. .

I killed those people. ” A villain made to absorb the chaos of Two-Face in order to preserve the heroism of Harvey Dent. “, A hero.

, Not the hero we deserved, but the hero we needed. ”, Which brings us full circle. .

A Hero’s growth is often demonstrated by returning them to the start of the story. . Everything may look the same, but the hero is now different.

. The journey not only changed Bruce. , It changed Batman.

And that’s what makes this a great Batman story. . So if you’re stuck in the middle of that creative looping can’t find a way to finish your script.

Just think about the story. Circle and don’t worry, You don’t need to memorize all of this. .

You can click on the link in the description below and download a free Story. Circle worksheet to plot out your own story. Also be sure to check out StudioBinder for more videos and storytelling resources.

Just like this one. We’ll see you in the next video. “ He’s a silent, Guardian.

, A watchful protector. , The Dark Knight, . ” .


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