The Story Circle
Elevate your narrative with a simple eight-step guide and worksheet.

Dan Harmon Story Circle Template - Header v2 - StudioBinder

Who is Dan Harmon?

Dan Harmon is the mastermind behind the Story Circle. Currently an executive producer at Rick and Morty, he also created and ran the NBC show Community. Dan consolidated Joseph Campbell's classic Hero's Journey from 17+ steps into a more contemporary set of 8.

We created a helpful guide so writers (like you!) can create compelling narratives focused on driving the story forward through character development.

Dan Harmon - Story Circle

Dan Harmon @danharmon

Watch: How The Dark Knight Completes the Story Circle

But how does the Story Circle actually work?

1. You

The first thing you need to do is create a protagonist we want to invest in. Not everyone liked Don Draper, but we certainly wanted to watch him!

2. Need

Now that we're obsessed with your protagonist, we need to know what's motivating them! Establish an active drive - what do they need?

3. Go!

Look at them go! We're off to the races as the protagonist has initiated their journey to find, build, buy, steal, or win over whatever they need. 

4. Search

Put them to test! Let's see what they're made of. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, so make sure you challenge your protagonist a bunch of times. 

5. Find

Mission accomplished! Or is it? It appears as though your protagonist has gotten what they set out for, but it can't be that easy. 

6. Take

How badly do they still want it? This is where we see how steep of a price your hero is willing to pay to accomplish their goal, to get what they need.

7. Return

Now our hero must return home. Having taken what they wanted and slayed the metaphorical (or real) dragons, they make the journey back.

8. Change

"The only thing constant is change." - Heraclitus, and college dorm posters. Your hero isn't the same person they used to be, show that change here. 

Grab your FREE Story Circle Bundle!

Put that script through the ringer with our free Story Circle worksheet & template bundle.

Dan Harmon Story Circle - Worksheet - Printable Worksheet v2 - StudioBinder

Printable Worksheet 

Ideal for in-person meetings.

Story Circle Google Drive Worksheet v2 - StudioBinder

Online Workbook

Ideal for collaborating online.

Dan Harmon Story Circle - Free Infographic 2 - StudioBinder

Story Circle Infographic

Story Circle example: The Dark Knight

Just enter your email address and you'll instantly receive the kit.

Further reading about good story structure

Dan Harmon Story Circle Can Help You Shape a Better Story - Featured - StudioBinder

Cravin' more? We knew you would. Take a look at our deep-dive guide to the story circle. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT:

  • The eight steps and how to apply them to your script
  • The universal language of storytelling
  • Helpful story circle examples 
The Hero’s Journey - 17 Steps to Craft the Perfect Screenplay - Featured - StudioBinder

Interested in the classic archetype that inspired it all? Check out our breakdown of Campbell's Hero's Journey. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT:

  • The in-depth twelve-step process
  • Examples of major films that use the Hero's Journey
  • How YOU can apply the Hero's Journey to your script

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