There are a variety of plot structures to choose from when writing a story, but by far the most famous and prevalent is the Hero’s Journey. You can find echoes of it in every story ever told.
Star Wars is the most famous example, and as much of a fan as I am, there’s enough out there on how it matches line for line. So instead, I’m going to focus on a different aspect of the hero’s journey every week and match it to the relevant scene in a movie.
Why movies not books?
Well for starters, unless I want to go with the classical cannon, there’s a much better chance of everyone having seen the same movie than reading the same book. There’s also a better chance of someone remembering a specific scene from said movie or book. And because movies are so much more compact, the elements of the story are very specific and easy to point to, whereas in a book it may be much more subtle and may unfold over much more time.
Part one of the hero’s journey is establishing the ordinary world. In other plot structure’s you’ll see this called “slice of life.” Cartoons tend to do this very well with voiceovers (Hiccup’s “This is Berk” narrative, the Crood’s mini-cartoon at the beginning, Welcome to Riley’s Brain in Inside Out), songs (Rapunzel’s tower song, Belle’s “Bonjour,” or “This is my idea” from Swan Princess), and montages (Big Hero Six, UP, and Monster’s INC).
The BEST example I can think of for establishing the ordinary world is “Wreck it Ralph.” In this scene, Ralph gives a voice over that serves a function in the narrative instead of just being an info dump. His narrative establishes his conflict, establishes the rules of the world, his role within it and the theme of accepting himself for who he is (I’m bad, and that’s good…) But what makes this moment the best example is everything that happens in the background. Sonic establishes the limits of the world, Surge Protector establishes his bias against “bad guys,” the bus moving through the power cables establishes how they can hop from one game to another, there’s even a reference to Turbo. A million things are established in the one scene, but it does not begin the journey. It establishes the slice of life.
What are some of your favorite slice of life moments?