Series: Elements of Structure Part 3: Plodding Plots


This upcoming January-February I’ll return to the Journey of the Hero unit. It’s been tossed, denigrated, punched, and still, it comes up standing, ready for more. Joseph Campbell never fails me. The ginormous binder tome that contains its massive and timeless information, and look forward to those ah-ha moments when students recognize nearly every single story, movie or tale is indeed, a monomyth.

The CCSS which specifically address Journey of the Hero or monomyth are not under the heading of Craft and Structure, but these:

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.
Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.
But I can’t help but think the good people at the CCSS got it a little wrong–patterns are structure.
There is nothing new under the sun. When considering structure, scholars propose that there are no new stories, not really, and we can find stories fitting into a minimum amount of plots:
But this analysis or categorization creates inherent boredom in our content area, so I caution all of us not to get into the systemic drilling of parts, and forget to put back together the whole.
Maybe that is really the theme of Shelley’s Frankenstein: the man could not make better what the gods created, and putting it back together makes it awkward and angry. When analyzing plot and the various types of plot, make sure to step back and look at the whole map, and allow students moments of many personal connections. A story is only as good as we hear it.