Real talk for a second. I’m currently in the throes of writing a thesis so I can graduate college with a big shiny medal or something. (No, actually I’m writing it because it’s academically fulfilling and therefore I like doing it. But shiny medals are cool too.) My thesis, in extremely broad terms, is connecting the works of science fiction — literature, paintings of the night sky corresponding to actual night skies, alchemy — to that of science fact. The idea originated from my own ruminations on the scientific method. The scientific method is a pretty useful tool. But at the end of the day, it’s just a tool. It was made by humans in order to be used by humans to reach for (possibly inhuman) knowledge.
In the same vein, Dan Harmon’s famous plot circle (which is described in detail here) is a pretty useful tool for telling stories, mostly because the pieces are just different labels for the same kind of plot-related breakdowns people have been doing for years, and almost all of them are related to Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. But that breakdown is still just a tool, a mechanism for telling stories (in this case on the quick-and-dirty, since Harmon was talking about making five-minute pilots for Channel 101) that is instinctively rooted in the human unconsciousness. Read more