NJAM Remix: Dan Harmon’s Story Structure


REMIX Time! We spliced our two Dan Harmon Story Structure volumes together. Listen in as Ryan, Michael, and Timmie take you through Harmon’s story circle writings, his story breaking process, and finally break it all down using an episode of Community.

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I. Intro

A. What is this NJAM Remix?

II. The Story Circle [00:05:00]Story Circle

A. Synthesis of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces

B. Story Structure 101: Super Basic Shit

  1. Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s rule of “Therefores and Buts”

C. Story Structure 102: Pure, Boring Theory
D. Story Structure 103: Let’s Simplify Before Moving On
E. Story Structure 104: The Juicy Details

  1. You | Establish a Protagonist
  2. Need | Something Ain’t Quite Right
  3. Go | Crossing the Threshold
  4. Search | The Road of Trials
  5. Find | Meeting with the Goddess
  6. Take | Meet Your Maker
  7. Return | Bringing it Home
  8. Change | Master of Both Worlds

E. Story Structure 105: How TV is Different
F. Story Structure 106: Five Minute Pilots

III. Let’s Rewind Before Moving On [01:07:35]

A. Story Breaking Process

IV. Community: Another Testing Ground [01:12:45]

A. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Example

B. Jeff as Main Character for 8 Steps

1) How do we think this circle might go?

  1. You | Jeff
  2. Need | Wants to help Fat Neil
  3. Go | Enters Dungeons and Dragons World
  4. Search | Gets Used to the Game
  5. Find | The Game Is Now Real
  6. Take | Loses Control of the Game to Pierce
  7. Return | Allows the Game to Resolve on Its Own
  8. Change | Accepts that Sometimes He’s the Villain

2) What Are the Quadrants?

  • Upper Half | Altruism
  • Lower Half | Guilt
  • Right Side | Control
  • Left Side | Lack of Control

Put together, your arc is:

Controlled Altruism,

Controlled Guilt,

Uncontrollable Guilt,

Uncontrollable Altruism

V. Conclusions [01:26:40]

A. Other Resources


Campbell’s Monomyth within 8 Step Story Circle:



Harmony, Disharmony, Honesty, Dishonesty Story Circle



Original Music

The music found in this episode was written and performed by the talented Jesse James.

Audio Editing

This show was edited by Ryan Jacobi.

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