Storytelling Secrets | 8 Great Screenwriting Tips

In the first in our new series dubbed, our Adventures In Filmmaking, we have some great screenwriting tips! We begin by discussing our approach to storytelling using Joseph Campbell’s Mythic Structure.  We also breakdown the mythic structure and simplify it by using Dan Harmon’s Story Circle. Then we get philosophical and explain how it can tie in to your own life and your own journey as a filmmaker.

Bekemeyer and I, (Brad Kingston aka BaldingEwok) wanted to share with you guys our Adventure’s In Filmmaking and reveal some of the secrets to our screenwriting success (or lack thereof). We’ve studied human behavior for over 20 years, read many books and have been writing, applying and testing our theories ever since. In this article we want to share with you some of the best storytelling tools that you can apply when writing your outline and creating the basic journey for your heroes. 

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Please signup to download our Story Circle Outline with all of the Mythic Structure and Story Circle Secrets included as an editable Google Docs document. Just replace everything with your own story and get started writing that awesome screenplay!

Excerpts from StudioBinder’s Website Regarding The Hero’s Journey.

Odds are that if you’ve had any interest in writing a script within the past fifty years you’ve heard of the hero’s journey. A writer you got drinks with swore by it, a film professor suggested you read about it.

Or you overheard the barista at your local coffee shop talking about how Die Hard is a picture-perfect template for it.

But… what is it?

The hero’s journey (or monomyth, if you’re one for brevity) is a storytelling archetype. It was made popular by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Campbell drew from a variety of resources to whittle down the necessary components to a fantastic story in seventeen steps.

The structure and the simplicity of the hero’s journey allows writers to paint by numbers. It’s a tool to create a story outline.

Here’s a video explanation of The Hero’s Journey if you’re not much of a reader.

Regardless of how you choose to quantify your story, it helps to create a visualized perspective. While many examples are in the sci-fi or fantasy genre, this model applies to comedies, dramas, or any combination thereof.

That way you can see the big picture while giving yourself a foundation. This allows you to zoom in and get more detailed.  

Now you can start writing your treatment with confidence and clarity, rather than a paralyzing fear of the blank page.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of Joseph Campbell’s classic 17 step template for the monomyth.

The 17 Hero’s Journey Steps

Table of Contents


  1. Call to Action
  2. Refusal of Call
  3. Supernatural Aid
  4. Crossing the Threshold
  5. Belly of the Whale
  6. Road of Trials
  7. Meeting with the Goddess
  8. Temptation
  9. Atonement with the Father
  10. Apotheosis
  11. The Ultimate Boon
  12. Refusal of Return
  13. Magic Flight
  14. Rescue from Without
  15. Crossing the Return Threshold
  16. Master of Two Worlds
  17. Freedom to Live

While Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is the de facto version, there have been many spinoffs. 

Christopher Vogler condensed Campbell’s monomyth from seventeen steps to twelve.

Kurt Vonnegut created a line graph detailing time and ill-fortune/good fortune, applying a format that could fit most genres.  

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

Dan Harmon’s 8 Step Story Circle

Showrunner Dan Harmon, creator of Community and Rick and Morty, consolidated it even further into his own eight-part “Story Circle.”

Side note: You can grab a free story circle worksheeet here to help plot out your own story. It also inspired the video below where we break down the The Dark Knight into Harmon’s 8-Step Story Circle.

Does it hold up? You be the judge:

READ MORE: Dan Harmon’s Story Circle (based on The Hero’s Journey)

1. You

The first thing you need to do is create a protagonist we want to invest in. Not everyone liked Don Draper, but we certainly wanted to watch him!

2. Need

Now that we’re obsessed with your protagonist, we need to know what’s motivating them! Establish an active drive – what do they need?

3. Go!

Look at them go! We’re off to the races as the protagonist has initiated their journey to find, build, buy, steal, or win over whatever they need. 

4. Search

Put them to test! Let’s see what they’re made of. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, so make sure you challenge your protagonist a bunch of times. 

5. Find

Mission accomplished! Or is it? It appears as though your protagonist has gotten what they set out for, but it can’t be that easy. 

6. Take

How badly do they still want it? This is where we see how steep of a price your hero is willing to pay to accomplish their goal, to get what they need.

7. Return

Now our hero must return home. Having taken what they wanted and slayed the metaphorical (or real) dragons, they make the journey back.

8. Change

“The only thing constant is change.” – Heraclitus, and college dorm posters. Your hero isn’t the same person they used to be, show that change here.

Below is a video using Star Wars to explain The story Circle

If you wanna know more about Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, here’s a link to StudioBinder’s blog.

https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/joseph-campbells-heros-journey/#step-1-call-to-action 

For more information on Mythic Structure and the Story Circle

Dan Harmon Story Circle Can Help You Shape a Better Story - Featured - StudioBinder
The Hero’s Journey - 17 Steps to Craft the Perfect Screenplay - Featured - StudioBinder

Dan Harmon’s Explanation Series: http://channel101.wikia.com/wiki/Stor…

Dan Harmon Interview Excerpt from Innovation Crush: (https://soundcloud.com/innovationcrus…)

FURTHER READING If you’d like to purchase one of the books mentioned in the podcast click one of the links below.

“The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell (http://amzn.to/2CSxc4I)

“The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler (http://amzn.to/2FuINsi)

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