Screenplays are structured stories, pure and simple. Most screenwriting books will essentially tell you the same things about structure, putting their own unique nomenclature on the common story beats found in screenplays. One structure referenced frequently in screenplays is Joseph Campbell's monomyth, more commonly known as "the hero's journey". Not familiar with the hero's journey? Nonsense. You've seen Star Wars, right? Then you're familiar with the hero's journey. To learn about it in relation to your screenwriting, you could read Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. But it's summertime. So why not watch a 6-minute YouTube video with puppets explaining the hero's journey instead?
Campbell argued that many myths from different eras and regions shared the same structure, which led to their popularity and longevity. Campbell called this structure the monomyth, which he broke down into 17 distinct stages. In the late 1980s, two documentaries, The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth, used the phrase "the hero's journey" to describe Campbell's monomyth, and the phrase stuck. Many writers and filmmakers have referenced the influence of the hero's journey on their stories, most notably George Lucas in his creation of the Star Wars trilogies.
Thanks to the comic genius of Glove and Boots, we can now learn about the hero's journey from puppets and why recent Adam Sandler films suck in the opinion of these puppets.
Do you adhere to the hero's journey when writing your screenplays? Do you find Campbell's argument that all great myths adhere to the same structure as valid? Or do you think diversion from this structure is necessary to find originality in today's screenplays? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments.