A story can be so powerful.

Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human and to be alive. We love to hear stories. We love to tell stories.

What makes a good story good? If you have taken a writing class, you may be familiar with the Hero’s Journey, first popularized by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The Hero’s Journey is a narrative template that describes a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. It’s a familiar structure that you see everywhere, from the story of Christ to the latest Star Wars film.

Campbell identifies several stages in the Hero’s Journey. They look something like this:

I think it is possible to distill the Hero’s Journey down to a more compact formula that can be applied to short-form stories such as web videos. It goes like this:

  1. Protagonist. A main character whom we can relate to and whom we care about.
  2. Struggle. The protagonist faces adversity or a significant challenge.
  3. Solution. The protagonist discovers or devises a solution.
  4. Outcome. The protagonist rises above his struggle and finds happiness.

Here’s a video we did for Central Penn College that follows this structure. It’s less than two minutes long.

This formula will not work for all stories. But when it does work, it can be really powerful.

Hope all your stories are good ones.

Bill Haley