Structure and Archetypes in Storytelling

Structure and Archetypes in Storytelling

My study of storytelling is progressing.  Along with the resources I mentioned in my first storytelling post, I have picked up a fun book from Evan Skolnick about storytelling in video games.  I’m enjoying the book quite a bit and find it useful because of the familiar movie and game examples.

Right now, I’m focused on structure on and characters.  Every new bit of information – from infusing the narrative with conflict (challenge) to the different types of henchman and villains (obstacles to meeting the challenge) – has me pausing to daydream about how I might apply the info to my game narrative.   I especially get carried away by all the archetypes: the hero, villain, shapeshifter (always my favorite character), the mentor, the henchman, and so on.

My hero, of course, is the online faculty member.  Then there’s the instructional designer as partner and, perhaps, co-hero <grin>, the experienced online teacher as mentor, and so on.  Where I start really having fun is in deciding who will be the villain and henchman and shapeshifter.  My original thinking was that I would play it straight and not include overt villains or henchman.  Then I remembered that article on how instructional designers (like me) suck the life out of games… LOL   Clearly, I need to go a little crazy.

Yet, I don’t wish to set up any divisiveness. I don’t think I want game player faculty to view, for example, their Dean or Department Head (or their students!) as “the villain” even if it is just fun.  But, could that be the emotional draw and funny comedic relief that motivates the player????    I just don’t know.

I suppose I could make Time the villain. After all, villains are not always people.  Maybe Tech and Info Overload could be a henchman.  This seems to have potential for humor and those ‘characters are certainly relatable ‘villains’ to most faculty who are new to online teaching.

There’s still a lot I need to work out, but here’s a partial idea for the structure and the characters:

  • Conflict / Challenge  – Improve your online course by increasing engagement and learning outcomes.
  • Three Act Structure (with elements of the monomyth structure)
    • setup / separation – faculty member receives his/her course and student evals, which are less than stellar.
    • confrontation / initiation – with support of mentor (experienced online teacher), instructional designer, librarian, colleagues, and students, faculty player engages in variety of course improvement challenges and discovers whether her/his choices lead to improvements in either engagement or learning
    • resolution / return – after several successful changes/improvements to course, faculty player becomes the mentor!
  • Character Archetypes (not an exhaustive list)
    • Hero – newer online faculty
    • Mentor –  experienced online faculty
    • Team – instructional designer, librarian
    • Shapeshifter – students, other colleagues?
    • Henchman –  tech, info overload
    • Villain – time, self-doubt

What do you think?  With the correct application of narrative, does this idea have some merit?  I keep imagining scenes that make me laugh out loud… but, I do have a whacky sense of humor.




Your Thoughts?

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