One can take a lot of courses and read a lot of books on storytelling and screenwriting but only get more confused. Fortunately, every now and then, there is a payout for all this work and something that clarifies all the confusion. The confusion was clarified recently by an online course I recently took from story guru John Truby titled “Story for Novelists.” I read his Anatomy of Story a number of years ago and (after reading numerous books on screenwriting) still think it is the greatest book written on screenwriting.
Recently, Truby has been offering an online course on applying his screenwriting structure to novels. Although some novelists have been applying his screenwriting structure to novels, this course is the first time (to my knowledge) he has shown how his screenwriting approach has relevance for novels.
For me, the real golden nugget in the course was the bonus lesson where Truby discussed Avatar (the leading box office film of all time) and how myth will be the leading genre for the near future. In the first part of his discussion, he discussed how the Joseph Campbell structure from his famous Hero With A Thousand Faces is based on a male Hero myth while the female “mother” myth has been forgotten as a structure for stories. Truby observes that it was the combination of the male myth and female myth (something rarely ever seen in stories or screenplays) that served as a key component making the Avatar story exceed others.
John Truby’s observations is elaborated in the chapter “Myth & Psychic Sequence” from our manuscript Script Symbology. The chapter compares Campbell’s structure to the structure provided by Carl Jung’s greatest student Eric Neumann in The Origins of the History of Consciousness (1954, Princeton University Press). In the important but little-known book, Neumann suggests that the individual consciousness passes through the same archetypal stages of development as human consciousness as a whole. For Neumann, the Creation Myth – containing the Great Mother – comes before the Hero Myth. The Hero Myth only begins with the separation from the mother.