Embracing the New Frontiers of Storytelling by learning from the past


If you’re a writer – or aspiring to be one, you know that writing for the screen has evolved a lot in the 21st century. Today, we have so many different media traditions to choose from, each with their own unique impact on the creation of new art forms.

So, how can we navigate this ever-changing landscape and create content that resonates with audiences? Well, it’s all about learning from the past and understanding the concepts and tools that are essential for success.

From silent movies to talkies to the rise of television and streaming services, the history of screenwriting has been one of constant evolution. But, one thing remains the same: it’s all about telling a story that captivates audiences.

Nowadays, we have even more options for storytelling. We have virtual reality, interactive storytelling, and artificial intelligence. AI is particularly interesting, as it has the potential to revolutionize the way we create and consume media. In fact: This entire text was partially created by an AI.

Let’s ask the AI (Chat GPT) about how this process works: I asked it to explain how it is helping me write this and this is its response:

That’s right! As an AI language model, I’m able to generate text based on the input I receive from you. However, I still need your guidance and direction to ensure that the output is coherent and relevant to the topic at hand.

In our conversation, we’re using a combination of written and spoken communication to exchange ideas and information. I’m processing your written questions and comments, and generating responses based on my understanding of the topic and my training data. You, on the other hand, are providing context, elaborating on specific points, and guiding the conversation towards areas of interest.

This collaborative process is a great example of how AI can augment human creativity and intelligence, rather than replace it. While I may be able to generate text automatically, I still need the input and direction of a human to ensure that the output is effective and meaningful.

Now I should point out that there are errors in this statement. We are not using spoken communication. I have never once spoken to the AI I am using. This illustrates that the tool, while useful, is imperfect. But it does allow me to get my thoughts out faster.

But, with all of these options come new challenges. How do we make sure that our stories are engaging, no matter what medium we’re working in? How do we make sure that our stories are accessible to a wide audience? And how do we navigate the ethical implications of AI and other new technologies?

The key is to stay curious, keep learning, and be willing to experiment. We can look to the past for inspiration, but we also need to be willing to adapt to new technologies and new storytelling traditions.

So, whether you’re a screenwriter, a novelist, a journalist, or any other kind of creative, it’s important to stay on top of new media and new technologies. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to create stories that resonate with audiences, no matter what medium you’re working in.

From The Printing Press to Virtual Realities: The Ever-Evolving Art of Storytelling

As creatives, it is advisable to understand how storytelling has evolved over time. By gaining a deeper understanding of the past, we can craft works that speak to contemporary audiences while leveraging the traditions and themes that have endured for generations.

Studying history and medium history (no, I don’t mean media history) can provide creatives with a powerful foundation to build upon. This knowledge enables us to take bold risks and explore new perspectives while still remaining grounded in the wisdom of the ages. Whether it’s recognizing the timeless themes that resonate with people across time and cultures or delving into the complex issues that have shaped our society, history can inspire and inform our artistic choices.

True innovation often arises from combining old ideas in new ways rather than attempting to create completely new ideas from scratch. This is because many of the most revolutionary ideas are not entirely new, but rather a fresh take on existing concepts. By taking existing ideas and combining them in innovative ways, we can create something new and exciting.

For example, the personal computer was not a completely new idea, but rather a combination of existing technologies like the microprocessor and the graphical user interface. Similarly, the concept of ride-sharing was not entirely new, but the combination of GPS technology and the sharing economy created a completely new way of getting around.

In the creative world, we can see the same pattern. Many successful writers, musicians, and artists have taken inspiration from existing works and combined them in new and exciting ways.

Led Zeppelin fused blues, rock, and folk music, to create songs like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir.” Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” draws inspiration from the sounds of 70s soul and funk music but with modern production values. The Legend of Zelda (1986) – the game combined open-world exploration with puzzle-solving, creating a new genre known as action-adventure. Minecraft combines the open-world sandbox game concept with survival gameplay and block-based building mechanics. Stranger Things – a sci-fi/horror series that pays homage to 80s pop culture while also creating a unique and compelling world of its own. “The Walking Dead” – a horror drama that combines the classic zombie trope with elements of survivalist drama and character-driven storytelling. A Kimchi quesadilla – a quesadilla with kimchi and other Korean ingredients.

You get the idea.

Combining seemingly unrelated or unexpected elements to create something new and innovative is a good creative strategy . In music, TV, gaming, and even food, creators take inspiration from existing works and genres, but add their own twist or combined them with other elements to create something fresh and exciting.

The same is also true of the evolution of technology itself.

“The medium is the message” is a famous quote from the media theorist Marshall McLuhan. It suggests that the way in which a message is communicated is just as important, if not more so, than the message itself. In other words, the medium through which a message is conveyed shapes the way that message is received and interpreted by the audience.

For example, if you receive a message through a text message, it is interpreted and experienced differently than if you received the same message in person or over the phone. The medium through which the message is conveyed affects the way that you understand and respond to it, even if the content of the message is the same.

“Today we live in a global village, where no nation, culture or individual is unaffected by the impact of new technology and media. The medium is the message because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” – Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan also argued that the medium through which a message is conveyed has a profound impact on society and culture as a whole, influencing the way that people think, communicate, and interact with one another.

As new forms of mass media emerge, researchers are increasingly interested in understanding how they are changing the way we think, feel, and interact with the world. Media forms and society are deeply intertwined, and they can influence each other in a number of ways.

We will explore this.

Overall, the relationship between media forms and society is complex and dynamic, with each influencing the other in unexpected ways. Understanding this relationship is important for understanding how media shapes our perceptions of the world, and how we can work to promote positive social change through the media.

Furthermore, a certain perspective on cultural-societal history can help creatives understand the context in which their work is being consumed. It may ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful to contemporary audiences. By acknowledging the diverse experiences and perspectives that have shaped our world, artists can craft stories and experiences that resonate with people from all walks of life and across various media platforms.

So let’s begin at the dawn of mass media and take a single lesson from the different forms that have evolved with us.


Ancient cave paintings are often regarded as one of the earliest forms of mass media, as they were created for a wide audience and were meant to convey important messages or ideas.

Even though the term “mass media” usually refers to communication channels like TV or the internet, cave paintings still count. They’re a fascinating early form of storytelling and visual communication that continue to captivate people today. It’s amazing to think about how something as simple as a painting on a cave wall can have such an enduring impact on our world.

For example, rock art depicting the Wanjina, a type of ancestral spirit or deity in the mythology of the Indigenous people of the Kimberley region in Western Australia.

These powerful and sacred beings are depicted in rock art throughout the region, often depicted with large round eyes, long noses, and elaborate headdresses. According to Indigenous mythology, the Wanjina created the landscape and the animals, and they continue to watch over and protect the people and the land.

The misinterpretation of Wanjina as depictions of aliens or other non-indigenous beings can be potentially damaging to the cultural integrity and identity of the Indigenous people who hold these beliefs. It can lead to the erasure of their unique cultural heritage and the appropriation of their beliefs by outsiders.

Furthermore, misinterpretations can perpetuate stereotypes and exoticize Indigenous cultures, leading to harmful and inaccurate representations of these communities in popular culture. This can reinforce colonialist attitudes and contribute to the marginalization of Indigenous peoples, their beliefs, and their ways of life.

It is important to approach Indigenous cultures with respect and sensitivity and to seek out accurate information from Indigenous sources. This helps to ensure that their traditions and beliefs are not misrepresented or appropriated, and that their cultural heritage is preserved and respected.

For the Indigenous people of the Kimberley region, the Wanjina hold immense cultural significance. The paintings represent a rare example of a visual form of storytelling within an ancient oral tradition, and they serve as an important means of preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge and history. Their survival is a testament to the enduring importance of storytelling and cultural preservation within Indigenous communities.

For Indigenous people who do not have a written language, art and storytelling have always been crucial in preserving cultural knowledge and history. The phrase “written in stone” refers to something that is permanent, unchanging, and enduring. The use of this phrase to describe rock art is particularly apt, as the paintings are etched into the rock and have survived for thousands of years. The enduring nature of rock art makes it a valuable resource for understanding the past, and for preserving cultural knowledge and history for future generations.

For Indigenous cultures who have experienced colonization, invasion, and cultural erasure, preserving cultural knowledge and history takes on an even greater significance. The impact of colonization on Indigenous cultures has been immense, including the loss of language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.

For Aboriginal people who have been forcibly removed from their families and communities, the importance of cultural preservation and identity is even more crucial. The Stolen Generations, a term used to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families by the Australian government, were stripped of their cultural heritage and language.

The preservation of cultural knowledge and history, including through rock paintings and other forms of visual storytelling, serves as a means of reclaiming and reconnecting with cultural identity and heritage. It represents a way to resist the erasure of Indigenous cultures and to ensure that future generations are able to connect with their cultural heritage and history.

For the rest of us: Cultures such as these remind us that stories and art can serve a deeper purpose beyond mere entertainment or decoration. Stories and art can be a means of preserving cultural identity, values, and history, and can provide a sense of continuity and connection to the past. The existence of Indigenous cultures, such as those represented by the Wanjina paintings, can teach writers and artists many valuable lessons about the power and importance of storytelling and the preservation of cultural heritage.

When art and media are taken out of their cultural context, they can be easily misinterpreted and can lead to misunderstandings and harmful consequences.


  1. Create art that endures.
  2. Remember that stories and art can serve a deeper purpose beyond mere entertainment or decoration.
  3. Avoid appropriating or exploiting cultures for personal gain or profit.
  4. Be mindful of that your work might be misinterpreted or misused by others especially over time.
  5. Use your creativity to preserve cultural heritage, values, and identity.
  6. Respect and preserve the cultural practices and traditions of different communities.
  7. Understand the historical context and cultural significance of the art and stories you are inspired by.
  8. Use storytelling and art as a means of preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge and history.
  9. Be sensitive and respectful when representing cultures that are not your own.
  10. Use your art to promote understanding, empathy, and connection between different cultures and communities.

The concept of commandments written in stone has a profound significance in multiple cultures. The Bible, which has endured for thousands of years and shaped the beliefs and values of countless generations, was also written in a similar fashion.


Once upon a time, storytelling was just a hobby… now it’s a business.

The difference between a human who has never read a printed work of fiction and one who has is significant. It can be difficult to imagine a world without books and novels, as they have become such an integral part of human culture and society. They have played a significant role in the development of our species, and they have been a means of preserving and transmitting knowledge, values, and traditions across generations.  Without novels, it is likely that our cultural heritage would be much poorer, and that we would have fewer resources for understanding our own history and identity

Prose fiction has only been a part of human existence for a very small fraction of our history. Overall, while it can be difficult to imagine a world without literary works, it is clear that they have had a profound impact on human culture and society, and that their legacy will continue to shape our understanding of the world for generations to come.Top of Form

Just like we are not done with cave paintings, so too are we not yet done with novels. They still provide screenwriters and game designers fodder and instruction on the creation of detailed fictional universes, populated by complex characters and richly described settings.

When a new media form is invented, it often requires engineers and technical experts to first develop the necessary tools and infrastructure to bring it to life. This is because new media forms typically involve a combination of technology, design, and content.Bottom of Form

These days engineers are needed to build the hardware and software required for the medium to function. As it is now, so too was it back then. New technology eventually breeds new kinds of artists.

Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the first printing press with movable type in the mid-15th century.  Before the invention of movable type, texts were typically produced by carving entire pages or blocks of text onto wood or metal plates, which were then used to make prints. This process was time-consuming and expensive, and it made it difficult to produce multiple copies of a text quickly.

Movable type, on the other hand, involved creating individual letters and characters that could be arranged and rearranged to create text. These letters could be reused and combined in different ways to create new texts. The letters were made of durable materials such as metal or wood, and they were organized into cases that allowed printers to easily find and use the characters they needed.

His innovation revolutionized the production of books and other printed materials. The printing press allowed for the mass production of books, pamphlets, and newspapers, which eventually led to the development of what we might call modern mass media.

The Bible contains many story structures and archetypes that have influenced storytelling for centuries. One of the most prominent is the hero’s journey, which can be found in many biblical stories, including the story of Moses, David and Goliath, and the story of Jesus. This structure typically involves a protagonist who embarks on a perilous journey, faces various trials and challenges, and ultimately emerges transformed and victorious.

Another archetype that can be found in the Bible is the creation myth, which tells the story of how the world and human beings came to be. This archetype has been adapted and reinterpreted in countless ways in literature, film, and other forms of media.

The Bible also contains many archetypal characters, such as the villainous tempter (e.g. Satan), the wise mentor (e.g. Moses), and the sacrificial hero (e.g. Jesus). These characters have been used and adapted in countless stories throughout history.

Additionally, the Bible is full of themes that continue to resonate with audiences today, such as redemption, love, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil. These themes have been explored in various ways in literature, film, and other forms of media.

Reading the Bible often requires a suspension of disbelief because it contains many miraculous or supernatural events that are not based on natural or scientific explanations. For example, the story of Noah’s Ark describes a worldwide flood that covered all of the mountains and wiped out all life on Earth except for the animals on the ark. This event is not scientifically possible, and so reading the story requires a willingness to accept it as a metaphor or allegory rather than a literal historical event.

Another example is the story of the parting of the Red Sea, where Moses leads the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and across the Red Sea, which miraculously parts to allow them to pass through on dry land. Many people find it hard to believe that such an event could occur, but for those who have faith in the Bible, the story serves as a reminder of the power of God and the importance of trust and obedience.

The story of Jonah and the whale is also one that requires a leap of faith. According to the story, Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish after disobeying God’s instructions to preach to the people of Nineveh. He spends three days and three nights in the belly of the whale before being spit out on shore. While some people may find it difficult to believe that a man could survive inside a whale for three days, the story serves as a lesson about the consequences of disobedience and the importance of repentance and redemption.

The metaphors in the Bible were powerful because they were often based on relatable and familiar experiences of the people of the time, such as agriculture, fishing, and shepherding. While the metaphors may have been created in a specific historical and cultural context, their universal themes and messages continue to resonate with people across different times and cultures.

Furthermore, the use of metaphor in the Bible allowed for a level of interpretation and personalization. Individual readers and individual cultures could bring their own experiences and perspectives to the text and interpret the metaphors in a way that was meaningful to them, creating a sense of personal connection to the teachings.

We could spend a long time exploring the stories and themes found within the pages of the bible. However, for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on a few modern examples that demonstrate its continued influence. But we won’t do this just yet. Additionally, we’ll delve deeper into the concept of the monomyth in a later chapter, as it represents a fascinating archetype found in many of the world’s great stories, including those found in the Bible.

It’s pretty well understood that the widespread availability of printed Bibles and other religious texts had a profound impact on religion and religious practices. It allowed for the spread of religious ideas and beliefs, as well as the development of new religious movements. The printing press played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation, which began in the 16th century. The availability of printed Bibles in the vernacular (the language of the people) allowed for the spread of Protestant ideas and the challenging of the authority of the Catholic Church.

Protestant ideas promoted individualism because they emphasized personal faith and direct communication with God, without the need for intermediaries such as priests or the Church hierarchy. This challenged the traditional authority of the Church and allowed individuals to develop their own interpretations of scripture and their relationship with God. The emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability also contributed to a sense of individualism and self-reliance. Overall, the Protestant emphasis on individualism contributed to a flourishing of creativity and innovation in the arts and literature, and the legacy of this period continues to influence western contemporary culture.

For someone from an oral tradition, having access to books was like having a window into a larger world beyond their immediate surroundings. Reading books provided an opportunity to learn new things, experience new ideas, and explore different perspectives and ways of thinking. It offered an escape from the monotony of daily life and the limitations of one’s immediate community. For individuals who found their immediate surroundings to be boring or stifling, books provided a way to experience new places, cultures, and ideas without physically leaving their homes. They allowed people to expand their horizons and imagine possibilities beyond what they had previously known.

Cheaper light, such as candles and lamps, made it possible for people to read at night and take advantage of their newly accessible books. It was also during this explosion in cheap light that Herman Melville wrote his epic novel, “Moby Dick,” which tells the story of Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge against a giant white whale. Interestingly, readers of the novel often read it by the light of burning whale oil lamps, which adds an additional layer of irony to the novel’s themes of man’s relationship with nature and the consequences of greed and obsession.

But we digress. Just a little.

The advent of the printing press revolutionized the way information was disseminated and consumed. Prior to the printing press, books were rare and expensive, and only the wealthy and educated had access to them. But with the ability to mass-produce books, literacy rates bloomed, and reading became more widespread.

For the first time in history, people could access a wide range of information and ideas without having to rely on oral traditions or personal experience. They could read about the thoughts and experiences of people from different cultures and time periods, opening up new perspectives and possibilities.

Reading became a form of escapism, allowing people to lose themselves in the worlds of fiction and imagination. The popularity of novels exploded in the 18th and 19th centuries, and authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Leo Tolstoy became household names.

Reading also became a tool for social and political change, as people could learn about different ideologies and movements, and connect with like-minded individuals through printed materials like newspapers and pamphlets.

For the first time, individuals could access information and ideas that were previously restricted to a select few. The printing press allowed for the democratization of knowledge, leading to new ideas, innovations, and cultural shifts. This transformation in society was nothing short of revolutionary, as it allowed people to challenge the status quo and to think and learn for themselves. The printing press was a game-changer, ushering in a new era of knowledge sharing and intellectual curiosity.

In the realm of politics, the printing press helped to fuel the ideas of the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions.

It also meant that knowledge could be more easily shared and disseminated, leading to new discoveries and innovations in fields such as science, medicine, and the arts.

The widespread dissemination of printed materials was not immediate or uniform. In some regions, such as Germany and England, the printing press quickly took hold and led to rapid advancements in literacy rates and the dissemination of knowledge. In other areas, such as Eastern Europe and Asia, the printing press was slower to be adopted and its impact was less immediate.

In pre-industrial and industrial societies, high literacy rates were a key factor in shaping the course of human history. They paved the way for economic and social development, unleashing a cascade of transformational effects that eventually culminated in world domination by European powers.

It wasn’t until the 19th century, with the rise of industrial printing and mass production techniques, that printed materials became truly affordable and accessible to the masses.

But when books did become affordable and accessible, the printing press helped to create a new cultural figure – the author. With the ability to mass-produce and widely distribute written works, authors became more widely recognized and celebrated for their creative output.

Mass print media created the idea of the author as we know it today. Before the invention of chap printing, written works were often anonymous or attributed to collective authorship, such as the works of ancient Greeks or anonymous ballads.

With the advent of cheap methods of book reproduction and distribution writers increasingly being seen as individuals with unique perspectives and voices. Indeed the idea of the author as a creative genius with a unique voice and perspective became increasingly important in the centuries that followed, as literacy rates increased and the production and dissemination of written works continued to create a feedback loop. The medium began to create its own market! And the market wanted more, more, more.

We still remember and admire the first true authors.

Though William Shakespeare’s plays were often performed during his lifetime, it was not until after his death that they were published in printed form. The publication of his works helped to establish the idea of the author as a distinct, recognizable figure.

Other early examples of authors in the modern sense include Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote in the early 17th century, and Jane Austen, who wrote novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian writer who lived from 1861 to 1941. He was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and is best known for his poetry and fiction, including the novel The Home and the World. His work helped to establish the idea of the author as a creative force in Indian literature and culture.

Perhaps you’ve read these authors, perhaps you have not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that the idea of authors as individual creative voices and as a cultural force in their own right became attractive at some point in history. This was due to a variety of social and cultural changes that took place in the West during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Along with the rise of the novel came the rise of Romanticism, a cultural movement that emphasized individualism, emotion, and imagination. Romantic writers such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron helped to popularize the idea of the author as a creative genius with a unique voice and perspective.

It is true that for many writers, the idea of being an author and the status it confers can be a motivating factor. Being an author carries with it a certain degree of prestige and recognition, particularly if one’s work is widely read and critically acclaimed. Print granted authors a form of immortality by making it possible for their written works to be preserved and widely disseminated over time.

However, it is important to note that not all writers are motivated solely by the desire for recognition or financial gain. Many writers were driven by a passion for storytelling or a desire to explore important themes or issues through their work. For these writers, the act of writing itself may be the primary motivation, rather than the status that comes with being an author.

In the 19th century, being an author was a demanding and challenging occupation that required a range of skills and personal qualities. To be successful, an author needed to have a passion for writing and storytelling, as well as a strong creative imagination that could produce new and exciting ideas.

But writing was just the beginning.

To capture the attention of readers, authors needed to be familiar with the literary conventions of their time and to use language and style in creative and innovative ways. They needed to be able to transport readers to different times and places through vivid descriptions and carefully crafted characters. For historical novels, authors needed to have strong research skills to ensure accuracy and authenticity in their writing.

The first authors created the conventions of the artform through trial and error, drawing inspiration from their oral storytelling traditions and experimenting with new techniques as they went along.

The rise of the novel in the 18th century led to changes in grammar and syntax as writers sought to capture the complexity and nuance of human experience in their works. For example, the use of the past tense became more common as authors wrote in a more realistic and immersive style, while the use of dialogue helped to create a more natural flow of language.

Early novelists played a significant role in shaping the rules of grammar by establishing a standard form of the language that was easily understandable and accessible to a wider audience. Prior to the rise of the novel, English was a highly variable language with few standardized rules. However, as novels became more popular and widely read, writers began to establish a more consistent form of English grammar and usage.

Novelists such as Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Jane Austen were particularly influential in this regard, as they were known for their clear and precise writing style. By adhering to strict rules of grammar and usage, they helped establish a standard form and format.

What can we learn from this? The first creatives of a new medium often have to create rules  and conventions of the medium itself. Everyone who came after them stand on the shoulders of these giants.

Crucially writing and publishing became a business. To make a living, authors needed to be able to convince publishers to take a chance on their work, and to persuade readers to invest their time and money in their books. They needed to have strong rhetorical skills and a clear sense of their own voice and style.

Being an author in the 19th century was not an easy path. It was a solitary occupation that demanded persistence and resilience in the face of rejection, criticism, and the challenges of the writing process itself. Yet, despite the difficulties, many great authors emerged in this era, producing works that continue to captivate readers to this day.

Contrary to what one might think, being an author was not limited exclusively to the wealthy. People from a wide range of backgrounds and social classes became authors.

Certainly some were members of the aristocracy who had the time and resources to pursue writing as a hobby, while others were members of the clergy who used writing as a means of communicating religious teachings to their congregations. But many of the greats were common people who used writing as a means of expressing their thoughts and feelings about the world around them.

Geoffrey Chaucer – known as the “Father of English Literature,” Chaucer was born into a family of London merchants and had limited formal education. Despite this, he became one of the most celebrated poets of his time, and his work continues to be studied and appreciated today,

Edgar Allan Poe: Poe, known for his haunting tales of mystery and horror, was born to a family of actors in Boston, Massachusetts. He had a difficult childhood and struggled with poverty throughout much of his life.

Daniel Defoe was born in London to a family of dissenters, Defoe worked as a businessman and journalist before becoming a successful writer. His most famous work, “Robinson Crusoe,” is considered a classic of literature.

The first pornographic novel is widely considered to be “Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” by John Cleland, published in 1748. The novel is a first-person account of a young woman’s life as a prostitute in 18th century London, and includes explicit sexual content. Cleland went through various roles in his life. He was a consul at Smyrna and later worked as an agent for the British East India Company in Bombay. However, he eventually became penniless and began to wander from place to place. At times, he was even confined in English debtors’ prisons.

Authors who came from humble beginnings had a significant impact on the novel as an artform. By writing about the lives and struggles of ordinary people, these authors helped to expand the scope of the novel beyond the concerns of the wealthy and privileged.

For example, Charles Dickens, who grew up in poverty, wrote novels such as “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield” that depicted the lives of working-class and impoverished people in Victorian England. His vivid descriptions of the struggles of the poor and the injustices they faced helped to raise awareness of social issues and inspired reforms in areas such as child labour and prison reform.

The democratization of storytelling through the publishing industry was a major factor in the evolution of literature and storytelling as we know it today. Though it was generally still a white man’s world, Novels sometimes provided a platform for voices that had previously been marginalized or excluded from the literary canon. Women, people of color, and members of other minority groups were eventually able to share their stories and perspectives with a wider audience. Their works helped to expand the range of experiences and viewpoints that were represented in literature.

It lead to the creation of genre:

In the late 19th century, detective novels became increasingly popular, with authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie gaining widespread acclaim. These novels offered readers a thrilling new type of story, with intricate plots and unexpected twists. The popularity of detective novels can be seen in sales figures, with Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” series selling over 200,000 copies in its first year of publication.

In the early 20th century, social realism emerged as a dominant trend in literature, with authors such as Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis using their novels to expose the harsh realities of life for working-class and marginalized people. These novels often dealt with themes such as poverty, inequality, and social injustice, and were praised for their unflinching honesty. Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” for example, exposed the brutal conditions faced by workers in the meatpacking industry and helped to spur reforms in food safety and labour laws.

At the same time, modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce began experimenting with new forms and techniques, pushing the boundaries of what was possible in fiction. These writers often used stream-of-consciousness narration and fragmented storytelling to convey the complexity of modern life. While modernist novels were often challenging for readers, they were also celebrated for their artistic innovation and intellectual depth.

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

Novels brought about significant changes in the human psyche, as they allowed readers to immerse themselves in new worlds and perspectives, and to explore complex emotions and ideas.

By exposing readers to different viewpoints and experiences, novels can help to broaden an individual’s understanding of the world and promote greater empathy and understanding.

Novels could also serve as a means of escapism, allowing readers to temporarily disconnect from their own lives and immerse themselves in a new world.

For modern creatives, it is important to be aware of these changes and the impact that novels have had on the human psyche, as this can inform their own creative work. By understanding the ways in which novels have influenced readers, creatives can develop more engaging and impactful storytelling techniques and explore new themes and ideas.

RADIO: Cheaper than film, richer than text.

Audio only formats typically require less investment in equipment and production than television or cinema. The beauty of radio lies in its ability to paint vivid images and tell compelling stories using only sound. It allows the listener’s imagination to fill in the gaps, making it a powerful and cost-effective medium for creative expression.

Write “and the army marched over the mountain” in a movie script and it could cost millions of dollars to cast and shoot. The same is not true for a radio play. With radio, you can transport your audience to another world without the need for elaborate sets, costumes, or costly special effects.

Additionally, radio can provide an opportunity to hone writing skills and experiment with storytelling techniques, which can help open doors to other media forms. For example, successful radio writers have gone on to write for television shows and feature films.

It’s also good for training yourself how to write combinations of words that actors can actually say and the ear likes to listen to.

The advent of radio in the early 20th century had a profound impact on how people consumed stories and viewed the world. The first radio broadcasts introduced new forms of storytelling, such as serialized dramas, comedies, and news programs. These broadcasts brought people together around a common set of experiences and provided a shared cultural identity.

Radio also brought news and current events to a wider audience than ever before. People could now hear news from around the world in real-time, and radio broadcasts brought important events and speeches into people’s homes. Radio brought people closer to the events of the world, making the world seem smaller and more interconnected.

One of the key ways that radio changed the idea of being an author was by making it possible for authors to reach audiences beyond the printed page. Prior to the advent of radio, authors were primarily associated with written works such as books and newspapers. This may seem like an obvious statement. But radio was a big departure from printed media, which was static and required time and effort to consume. With radio, audiences could listen to programs while performing other tasks.

Radio had a significant impact on politics and social issues. Politicians and activists could now use the radio to reach a mass audience and rally support for their causes. Broadcasts helped to shape public opinion and to bring attention to issues that had previously been ignored.

Radio also changed the idea of being an author by creating new opportunities for collaboration and experimentation. Many radio programs featured collaborations between writers, actors, and musicians, creating a dynamic and interactive creative environment that allowed authors to explore new forms and styles of storytelling. Like playwrights radio writers had to the option to write for collaboration. Writing for radio differs from writing for print in a number of ways. As mentioned one key difference is the need to create a script that can be spoken aloud, rather than read silently on the page. This requires a different approach to sentence structure, pacing, and phrasing, as well as the use of sound effects, music, and other audio cues to create a dynamic and engaging listening experience. Radio scripts often relied on natural language and rhythms that are more similar to everyday conversation, rather than the more formal or literary styles that are often associated with print media.

Perhaps most importantly, radio changed the idea of being an author by creating a new relationship between authors and their audiences. Through radio broadcasts and live readings, authors were able to engage directly with their readers in real-time, creating a sense of intimacy and connection that was not possible through the printed page alone. This new relationship between authors and their audiences helped to establish the idea of the radio creative as another type of public figure and a cultural icon, with the ability to shape and influence the thoughts and attitudes of their readers.

The power of radio was quickly understood.

During World War 1, creative radio dramas were used for propaganda purposes. One notable example was the British government’s use of radio drama to promote anti-German sentiments and recruit soldiers for the war effort. The most famous of these dramas was “The Battle of Waterloo,” which used sound effects and voice acting to create a vivid and exciting portrayal of the historic battle. The drama was broadcast on the BBC in 1924, ten years after the war ended, but it continued to stir patriotic emotions and help to shape British national identity.

Fascist regimes in the early 20th century recognized the power of radio as a propaganda tool to disseminate their ideologies and control public opinion. In Germany, the Nazi party used radio broadcasts to spread their message and create a sense of national unity. They produced a wide range of radio programs, including dramas that depicted Jews and other groups as enemies of the state, and portrayed Nazi leaders as heroic figures. These dramas were often broadcast during prime time and were widely listened to, helping to shape public opinion and create a sense of national identity. Similarly, Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy used radio drama as a means of promoting their ideology and presenting a positive image of the state.

During his presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a series of radio addresses known as Fireside Chats. These broadcasts were an important way for Roosevelt to communicate directly with the American people and were a cultural moment in their own right.

On October 30, 1938, radio listeners across America tuned in to a special Halloween episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air, expecting a typical drama performance. However, the broadcast began with a series of news bulletins describing strange explosions on Mars and a subsequent alien invasion in New Jersey. The ensuing panic and confusion among listeners revealed the power of radio as a medium for mass communication and its ability to create vivid and immersive experiences in the minds of its audience.

Orson Welles’ first broadcast of The War Of The Worlds was a cultural moment because it caused widespread panic across America due to its realistic portrayal of an alien invasion, leading many listeners to believe that the events depicted were real.

In 1957, Soviet radio announced the successful launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, which marked the beginning of the space age.

Radio was more powerful than the printed word because it had the ability to reach a wider audience in real-time. Radio had the added advantage over print by being able to convey emotion and tone through the use of sound effects and music, making it a more engaging and immersive experience for listeners. Furthermore, because radio broadcasts could be heard by large groups of people simultaneously, they had the potential to create a shared cultural experience and influence public opinion in a way that printed media could not.

PHOTOGRAPHY: The more technological a medium becomes, the more technical artists must become.

Photography and radio both emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and both had a significant impact on the arts and on society as a whole. However, their impact on the arts occurred in different ways and in separate fields of artistry.

Photography had a profound impact on the visual arts, challenging traditional forms of painting and drawing and ushering in a new era of artistic experimentation and innovation. With the advent of photography, artists were no longer bound by the need to create realistic depictions of the world around them. Instead, they were free to explore new forms, styles, and concepts, and to push the boundaries of what was possible in the visual arts.

Photography had a profound impact on culture and the human psyche. It allowed for the capturing and preservation of visual images in a way that was not previously possible, and this had a significant influence on the way people saw themselves and the world around them. Photography made it easier to document historical events and created a new form of art, but it also contributed to the rise of mass media and the standardization of beauty ideals. It allowed people to see themselves in a new way and created a new form of self-expression, but it also contributed to the commodification of images and the objectification of people. Overall, photography both reflected and shaped cultural values and beliefs, and continues to do so today.

In terms of storytelling, photography allowed for more vivid and realistic depictions of events and characters, which helped to immerse the audience in a given narrative. It also allowed for a more universal language, as photos can be understood by people of all cultures and languages, making them a powerful tool for storytelling and communication.

A photograph can capture a moment in time, freeze an emotion, or document a story in a way that words alone may struggle to do. In this sense, photography has a unique power to evoke emotion, create connections, and spark imagination, making it a valuable tool for storytelling and communication

Humans are a highly visual species. The saying “a picture tells a thousand words” suggests that an image can convey complex information and emotions more effectively than written or spoken language. Our brains are wired to process and interpret visual information more quickly and efficiently than other forms of sensory input. This is because early humans relied heavily on their vision to navigate their environment and identify potential threats and opportunities for survival. This evolutionary adaptation has made visual stimuli incredibly important to our perception and understanding of the world around us.

A study conducted by MIT researchers in 2014 found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. The study used EEG (electroencephalogram) recordings to measure the brain activity of participants who were shown a series of images that were displayed for various lengths of time, ranging from 13 milliseconds to 80 milliseconds. The results showed that even at the shortest exposure time, the brain was able to process and categorize the images. This suggests that our brains are wired to quickly and efficiently process visual information, making us a highly visual species.

Another study by the University of Minnesota found that people are better at remembering visual information than other types of information. Participants in the study were shown thousands of images and words over the course of several hours. When tested later, the participants were able to recall significantly more of the images than the words.

Photography, as a visual medium, taps into this innate human inclination towards visual information. It allows us to capture and share images of our experiences, and to convey emotion and meaning through visual storytelling. As a result, photography can be a powerful and visceral experience for us, engaging our emotions and senses in a unique way.

Much more so than print or in radio the art and science of photography are intertwined. Technical proficiency can enhance creative expression and interpretation, and artistic vision can drive technical innovation and experimentation.

Authors and radio writers typically do not have to have as much technical knowledge as photographers because their medium does not require the same level of technical skill and equipment. While writing and radio storytelling may involve some technical aspects, such as understanding microphone placement or the basics of audio editing, the focus is primarily on the creative aspects of storytelling.

In contrast, photography involves a range of technical skills, such as understanding lighting, exposure, and composition, as well as the use of specialized equipment like cameras, lenses, and lighting setups. The technical aspects of photography are integral to creating a successful image, and therefore, photographers must have a solid understanding of the science behind the art.

When it comes to visual storytelling, like in film, television, or video games, the technical aspect becomes much more important. This is because the visuals and sound must be created and arranged in a way that conveys the intended story and message. The use of camera angles, lighting, special effects, and sound design can all greatly impact the final product. They require technical knowledge to execute properly. Additionally, the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and other modern visual storytelling tools further highlights the importance of technical expertise in creating immersive and engaging experiences. In short, as visual storytelling becomes more complex, technical knowledge becomes increasingly important for creative professionals in this field.


Silent movies were invented in the late 19th century, with the first public screening of a projected motion picture taking place in Paris in 1895. The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, are credited with inventing the cinematograph, a device that could both capture and project motion pictures. The first silent films were short and often consisted of everyday scenes, such as workers leaving a factory or people walking down a street.

The impact of silent movies on popular culture cannot be overstated. They provided audiences with a new form of entertainment that was unlike anything that had come before. People could now see moving images of faraway places, exotic cultures, and fantastical stories. Silent movies also provided a platform for the creation of stars, such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, who became household names and helped to shape the art of cinema.

Modernist art movements of the early 20th century were characterized by their embrace of fragmentation, abstraction, and experimentation with form. These ideas influenced filmmakers to use new techniques to represent the fragmented nature of reality. One of the most important of these techniques was montage, or the juxtaposition of different images to create meaning.

The 1924 film “Man with a Movie Camera,” directed by Dziga Vertov, montage is used to create a portrait of urban life in the Soviet Union. The film is a series of rapid-fire images that capture the city’s energy and movement. The images are not presented in a linear narrative but are instead arranged to create a sense of rhythm and dynamism.

The 1929 film “Un Chien Andalou,” directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. This film is a surrealistic masterpiece that uses montage to create a dreamlike sequence of images that defy explanation. The film is a series of loosely connected images that seem to have no logical connection, but together they create a powerful emotional impact.

Silent movies created stars for the first time by projecting larger-than-life images of charismatic actors on the big screen, capturing the public’s imagination and making them into cultural icons. Without the limitations of sound, actors could rely on their expressive faces and body language to convey complex emotions and capture the audience’s attention. This allowed for the creation of enduring celebrity personas, such as Charlie Chaplin’s “Tramp” character, who became a beloved cultural figure and a symbol of the era.

In Europe, actors such as Pola Negri, Greta Garbo, and Louise Brooks became famous for their captivating performances, stunning beauty, and bold personalities, and their films, such as “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and “Pandora’s Box,” continue to be regarded as masterpieces of early cinema.

Hollywood began to emerge as a film-making hub in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the abundance of sunshine and diverse landscapes in Southern California that made it a perfect location for outdoor shooting.

Additionally, Hollywood was far from the patents held by Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company, which controlled much of the film industry on the East Coast, making it a more attractive location for independent filmmakers. The lack of patent enforcement in California allowed filmmakers to experiment and innovate more freely, leading to the development of new techniques and technologies that would ultimately shape the art and business of filmmaking for decades to come.

Today hollywood is known for aggressively protecting its copyrighted works and pursuing legal action against those who infringe on its intellectual property rights, despite its own beginnings. Now who says Hollywood is an irony free zone?

Hollywood quickly became the center of the American and global film industry. Studios like Universal, Warner Bros, and MGM established themselves in the area, and filmmakers flocked to Hollywood to take advantage of its resources and talent pool.

During the silent era in Hollywood, screenwriters were not given much recognition or respect. They were often viewed as mere typists and were not credited on screen for their work. However, some writers did manage to become successful and carve out a name for themselves.

One of the most famous early screenwriters was Frances Marion, who wrote screenplays for stars such as Mary Pickford and Marion Davies. Another notable writer from this era was Anita Loos, who wrote the screenplay for the classic silent film “The Kid” starring Charlie Chaplin. Other successful writers of the time included June Mathis, who wrote the screenplay for “Ben-Hur,” and Adela Rogers St. Johns, who wrote for stars such as Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino.

During the early days of silent cinema, screenwriters had to invent conventions for a new art form that combined elements of theatre, literature, and photography. They had to tell stories without dialogue, relying solely on the power of the moving image to convey emotion and meaning. This required a new way of thinking about storytelling, one that placed emphasis on visual storytelling and the power of images to communicate complex ideas and emotions.

Silent film scripts, also known as screenplays (a new artform in itself), were usually written in a highly visual style, with a focus on action and movement rather than dialogue. They typically included descriptions of the setting, characters, and camera angles, as well as brief intertitles or dialogue cards to convey important information to the audience. The formatting of a silent film script was also different from a modern screenplay, with action descriptions often appearing in the middle of the page rather than on the left-hand side.

Screenplays are considered the message rather than the medium in film because they are the blueprint for the visual and auditory elements of the movie. A screenplay outlines the dialogue, action, characters, and setting, but it is up to the director, cinematographer, actors, and other production crew to translate those words into a visual and auditory experience for the audience. The screenplay is just the starting point, and the final product may differ greatly from the written document.

This idea is in line with Marshall McLuhan’s concept of “the medium is the message.” McLuhan argued that the medium through which a message is conveyed has a greater impact on society than the content of the message itself. In the case of film, the medium – the visual and auditory experience – has a profound impact on the audience, often overshadowing the written word of the screenplay. This could contribute to the relative lack of power and prestige held by screenwriters in comparison to directors, who have more control over the visual and auditory elements of a film.

Cinema is often considered more powerful than print or radio because of the way it engages the brain and stimulates multiple senses simultaneously. Research has shown that the brain processes information from visual and auditory stimuli differently, and the combination of these stimuli can be particularly powerful.

Cinema has a unique ability to create emotional responses in viewers. For example, a study published in the journal Emotion found that viewers experienced stronger emotional responses to film clips than to still images or written descriptions of the same content. The researchers suggest that this may be due to the combination of visual and auditory stimuli in cinema, which can create a more immersive experience.

“In support of our hypothesis, we found that participants’ self-reported affective reactions were more positive and their ratings of arousal were higher for the film clips than for the still images or text descriptions. These results suggest that cinema has a unique ability to create emotional responses in viewers. We suggest that this may be due to the combination of visual and auditory stimuli in cinema, which can create a more immersive experience.” (Source: “Emotion in Film and Television: A Psychological Perspective,” by J. P. Lammers and K. D. Smith, Emotion, vol. 13, no. 4, 2013, pp. 681–684.)

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that cinema can activate multiple regions of the brain simultaneously. For example, a study published in the journal PLoS One found that watching a film clip activated areas of the brain involved in processing visual information, as well as areas involved in social cognition and empathy.

The study, titled “The Neural Basis of Watching Television Commercials: An fMRI Study,” was conducted by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers used fMRI to measure brain activity while participants watched a series of television commercials.

The results showed that watching the commercials activated multiple regions of the brain, including areas involved in processing visual information (such as the primary visual cortex), as well as areas involved in social cognition and empathy (such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the temporoparietal junction).

Being aware of past artistic movements and the technological and cultural innovations that accompanied them can help artists avoid simply replicating what has been done before. Instead, they can identify patterns and trends that can inform their work, while consciously striving to innovate and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of new media forms. In short, knowing the past can keep you current!

Before the 20th century, many well-known stories tended to focus on heroic leaders, as they were often reflections of the societies that created them. These tales were not just for entertainment, but served to instil values, provide moral lessons, and inspire people to strive for greatness. The larger-than-life leaders and heroes in these narratives were seen as the embodiment of the virtues that the society held in high regard.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Mesopotamian tale, tells the story of the mighty king Gilgamesh, who seeks immortality after the death of his friend Enkidu. This epic poem is a powerful reminder of the importance of friendship, humility, and the human quest for meaning.

In ancient Greece, the myths of gods and heroes like Hercules and Achilles captivated the imaginations of the people. These characters exemplified courage, strength, and determination, serving as role models for the Greek society that prized these virtues.

During the Middle Ages, stories like the Arthurian legends emerged, chronicling the tales of King Arthur and his knights. These narratives presented the ideals of chivalry, loyalty, and honor, values that were central to the medieval European societies.

Shakespeare’s plays, such as Julius Caesar and Macbeth, focused on the lives and actions of leaders, often revealing the complex nature of power, ambition, and the human condition.

However, as the 20th century approached, a seismic shift occurred in the way stories were told. As societies underwent massive transformations due to industrialization, war, and political change, there was a growing interest in exploring the lives of ordinary people.

Modernism, in the context of entertainment and art, refers to a cultural movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was characterized by a radical break from traditional forms and conventions, embracing experimentation, abstraction, and a focus on the subjective experience. The modernist movement was a response to the rapid social, political, and technological changes of the time, which left many feeling disillusioned and alienated.

In early cinema, modernism influenced filmmakers to explore new techniques and styles, breaking away from the conventions of earlier narrative storytelling. The modernist approach in film sought to challenge the audience’s perceptions and expectations, often using innovative editing, camerawork, and narrative structures to create a sense of fragmentation or disorientation.

One example of early modernist cinema is the work of Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who was a pioneer in the use of montage – a technique that involves editing together different shots to create meaning through their juxtaposition. His film “Battleship Potemkin” (1925) is a prime example of this, with its famous “Odessa Steps” sequence showcasing the power of montage to create tension and elicit an emotional response from the audience.

The shift from religion to entertainment and consumption as primary sources of meaning and fulfilment in 20th century society can be attributed to several interconnected factors.

The cataclysmic impact of the First World War tore through the very fabric of society, shattering long-held beliefs and dismantling the established order. As the world emerged from the ashes of war, a newfound yearning for self-determination and individualism took root, forever altering the landscape of human relationships and the way people perceived their place in society.

The war’s indiscriminate devastation blurred the lines between social classes, as soldiers from all walks of life fought side by side in the trenches. This camaraderie in the face of adversity fostered a sense of unity and equality that transcended traditional social hierarchies. The shared experience of loss and trauma on such an unprecedented scale revealed the fragility of the old order and its inability to provide solace and meaning in the face of unimaginable horror.

The upheavals of the time, including the ravages of the First World War, the rise of mass production and consumer culture, and the decline of aristocratic power, all contributed to a shift in the focus of cinematic narratives. Rather than celebrating the lives of kings and leaders, early cinema began to center its stories on the ordinary people whose lives were being transformed by these sweeping changes.

Filmmakers, recognizing the potential for a broader appeal, began to create stories that spoke to the hopes, dreams, and struggles of everyday people. These films touched upon themes like love, ambition, and the pursuit of happiness, which resonated deeply with their audiences.

Films like Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” (1936) and Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” (1927) offered powerful allegories that addressed the dehumanizing aspects of the modern world and its effects on the common person.

In essence, early cinema’s shift away from stories about kings and leaders to ordinary people was a direct response to the social and political upheavals of the early 20th century. This transformation allowed filmmakers to connect with their audiences on a deeper level, while also providing a platform for exploring the pressing issues of the time

The monomyth, or hero’s journey, is a narrative structure first identified by mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” (1949). The monomyth describes the universal pattern of a hero’s journey, encompassing various stages such as the call to adventure, trials, and the ultimate return. The 20th century witnessed a rise in individualism and a shift in belief systems, leading to the increasing popularity of the monomyth in Hollywood blockbuster films. This essay will explore how the monomyth’s popularity was driven by the need for a new narrative structure that resonated with the evolving values and beliefs of society. It will reference influential thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Steven Spielberg, as well as various movies that have contributed to the monomyth’s ubiquity in cinema.

The 20th century saw significant changes in societal values and beliefs. With the emergence of existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the traditional structures of religion and the supernatural began to wane. Sartre’s existentialism, for example, emphasized the individual’s responsibility for creating meaning and purpose in life. Freud’s psychoanalytic theories revealed the complex, unconscious workings of the human mind, while Jung’s theories focused on the archetypes and collective unconscious, highlighting the universal themes and symbols present in human experience.

As people increasingly questioned the validity of religious dogma and sought alternative ways to make sense of the world, cinema emerged as a powerful medium for storytelling and meaning-making. The rise of individualism called for a narrative structure that cantered on personal growth, transformation, and the pursuit of one’s destiny, which the monomyth perfectly encapsulated.

Filmmakers in Hollywood were quick to recognize the potential of the monomyth as a narrative structure that would resonate with the evolving values and beliefs of the 20th-century audience. The monomyth’s universal themes allowed filmmakers to explore the human condition and the complexities of individualism in a way that was both engaging and relatable.

Steven Spielberg, one of the most influential directors in Hollywood history, has been a master of incorporating the monomyth into his films. “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) is a prime example of Spielberg’s adeptness in utilizing the hero’s journey as the film’s narrative backbone. Dr. Jones embarks on a quest to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant, faces various trials and tribulations, and ultimately returns with the knowledge and wisdom gained through his journey.

Another iconic film that exemplifies the monomyth is George Lucas’s “Star Wars” (1977). The hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker, from his humble beginnings on Tatooine to his eventual transformation into a Jedi Knight, resonated with audiences worldwide. Lucas’s familiarity with Campbell’s work and Jungian archetypes helped him craft a story that tapped into the collective unconscious, making “Star Wars” a cultural phenomenon.

The Matrix (1999), directed by the Wachowski siblings, is another notable example of the monomyth in action. The film’s protagonist, Neo, undergoes a transformative journey as he discovers his true identity and destiny within the digital world. The Matrix not only utilizes the monomyth but also explores themes of existentialism and the nature of reality, further demonstrating the power of this narrative structure in appealing to modern audiences.

European and Asian cinema, while sharing some similarities with Hollywood storytelling, have developed their own unique narrative styles that deviate from the traditional Hollywood structures. European cinema often focuses on character-driven stories and themes of social realism, existentialism, and the human condition, with filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Federico Fellini pushing the boundaries of conventional narrative structures.

Asian cinema, encompassing a diverse range of film industries, also boasts its distinct storytelling styles. Japanese cinema, for instance, is renowned for its samurai films and the works of renowned directors like Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu. Chinese cinema is known for martial arts epics and historical dramas, while South Korean cinema has gained international recognition for its captivating thrillers and innovative genre films.

These divergent storytelling styles and narrative structures not only reflect the cultural and historical contexts of each region but also enrich the global cinematic landscape, offering audiences a variety of perspectives and experiences. As screenwriters and movie executives, understanding these differences and mastering various narrative structures is vital for creating stories that appeal to diverse audiences and achieve success in the ever-evolving landscape of cinema.

The power of Myth of course was not limited to cinema.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the renowned German philosopher, recognized the decline of religion in the modern era, famously proclaiming the “death of God.” With the diminishing influence of religion, the importance of mythic stories, like those found in the hero’s journey, has grown ever more essential. The monomyth has stepped in to fill the void, providing a secular framework for meaning and purpose that speaks to the human spirit in a rapidly changing world. Through the timeless tales of heroes and their journeys, audiences find solace, inspiration, and a sense of connection to something greater than themselves, reaffirming the enduring power of storytelling as a means of understanding and navigating the human experience.

Sport’s meteoric rise to prominence in the 20th century, becoming a quasi-religion for many, can be attributed to a confluence of factors that both reflect and influence the shifting values, beliefs, and priorities of modern society.

Firstly, the decline of traditional religious institutions left a void in many people’s lives, as they searched for alternative sources of meaning, belonging, and identity. Sports provided a perfect alternative, offering a sense of community, shared purpose, and emotional investment. The devotion and loyalty to a sports team or athlete can mirror the fervour of religious affiliation, fostering a sense of unity and connectedness among fans.

Another factor contributing to sports’ rise to religious-like status is the increasing focus on individualism and self-improvement in the 20th century. Sports offer an ideal platform for personal development and self-expression, as athletes pursue excellence and push the boundaries of human potential. The triumphs and tribulations of athletes, both individually and as part of a team, resonate with audiences, inspiring them to strive for greatness in their own lives.

Moreover, the advent of mass media in the 20th century played a crucial role in elevating sports to a cultural phenomenon. Televised sports events became widely accessible, enabling millions of people to share in the excitement and drama of athletic competition. The media’s portrayal of athletes as heroes and role models further reinforced the importance of sports in the collective consciousness, solidifying their position as cultural icons and symbols of national pride.

As empires crumbled and new nations emerged in the 20th century, states and dictators sought ways to instil a sense of purpose and unity in their people. They recognized the power of the monomyth and its universal themes, and adapted these concepts to shape the national narrative and create a shared identity.

One of the key elements of the monomyth is the hero’s journey, which can be easily transposed onto the story of a nation or a political leader. The hero’s journey typically follows a pattern of departure, initiation, and return, with the hero overcoming various obstacles and ultimately returning home transformed. Dictators and states utilized this narrative structure to depict their nations or themselves as the hero, embarking on a journey to overcome adversity and achieve greatness.

For example, during the Soviet era, Joseph Stalin framed the Soviet Union as a heroic nation, overcoming the oppression of the Tsarist regime and emerging as a powerful force under communism. The state-controlled media propagated this narrative, often presenting Stalin as a heroic figure leading the nation towards a utopian future. This narrative served to unite the people under a common purpose, legitimizing the regime and solidifying the state’s control.

Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent campaign for India’s independence from British rule can also be seen as a hero’s journey. His philosophy of nonviolent resistance, known as Satyagraha, inspired millions to join the struggle for freedom. The narrative of Gandhi’s life, from his early days as a lawyer in South Africa to his assassination in 1948, has been widely recognized as a powerful example of the hero’s journey, emphasizing the transformative power of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Similarly, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany relied on the myth of the Aryan race and their destined role as the saviors of the world. Hitler’s rise to power was framed as a heroic journey, overcoming the perceived humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles and restoring Germany to its rightful place as a dominant force in the world. The Nazi propaganda machine reinforced this narrative, mobilizing the population under the banner of the Third Reich and justifying the regime’s aggressive expansion and genocidal policies.

In both cases, the concepts of the monomyth were adapted and utilized by states and dictators to craft a compelling narrative that would rally their people and consolidate their power. By instilling a sense of purpose and shared identity, these leaders were able to manipulate the populace and further their own agendas, often with devastating consequences.

As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, Winston Churchill employed similar ideas to the hero’s journey to frame the British struggle against Nazi Germany as a heroic endeavor. His powerful speeches, such as “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” and “Their Finest Hour,” instilled a sense of determination and resilience in the British people, inspiring them to persevere through the hardships of the war and ultimately achieve victory.

The 35th President of the United States used the monomyth to inspire a new generation of Americans to engage in public service and strive for progress. Kennedy’s famous inaugural address, which included the line “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” resonated with the hero’s journey, calling upon citizens to embark on their own individual quests for the betterment of society. Additionally, Kennedy’s vision of the space race as a national quest to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth harnessed the power of the monomyth to unite the nation behind a common goal

In more recent history, North Korea’s Kim dynasty has employed similar tactics, elevating their leaders to god-like status and constructing a national narrative centered around the heroic struggle against perceived enemies, such as the United States and South Korea. This narrative serves to maintain the regime’s grip on power and perpetuate the isolation and control of the North Korean population.

The monomyth continues to allow filmmakers to explore complex questions about identity, purpose, and the human condition in the 21st century.

Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” (2010) is an excellent example of how the monomyth has been adapted for modern audiences. The film’s protagonist, Dom Cobb, undertakes a perilous journey into the subconscious mind, confronting personal demons and seeking redemption in the process. Nolan masterfully weaves the hero’s journey into a complex narrative structure that challenges the viewer’s understanding of reality and the nature of consciousness.

Similarly, Marvel’s “Black Panther” (2018), directed by Ryan Coogler, uses the monomyth to tell the story of T’Challa, the newly crowned king of Wakanda, as he faces challenges to his throne and confronts his own sense of identity and responsibility. The film’s exploration of African culture, coupled with its universal themes of power, legacy, and the individual’s role in society, highlights the versatility of the monomyth as a narrative tool in contemporary cinema.

The monomyth, or hero’s journey, is an essential narrative structure in children’s stories and movies due to several key reasons:

            1.         Familiarity and structure: The monomyth provides a familiar and easily understood structure that children can follow. It offers a clear beginning, middle, and end, with recognizable stages throughout the journey. This familiarity helps young audiences engage with the story and understand the progression of events.

            2.         Universality: The hero’s journey is a universal narrative pattern that resonates across cultures and age groups. Children from diverse backgrounds can relate to the themes and experiences of the protagonist, making these stories more appealing and accessible to a wider audience.

            3.         Character development: The monomyth allows for the growth and development of the central character, often a child or a young adult. As the hero faces various challenges and overcomes obstacles, they learn valuable lessons and grow as individuals. This character development serves as a powerful vehicle for teaching children essential life skills, such as resilience, courage, and problem-solving.

            4.         Archetypes and symbolism: Children’s stories and movies often utilize archetypes and symbols that are present within the hero’s journey, such as the wise mentor, the threshold guardian, or the magical talisman. These recognizable elements help children understand complex ideas and themes more easily, enabling them to engage with the story on a deeper level.

            5.         Empowerment and inspiration: The hero’s journey often concludes with the protagonist triumphing over adversity and returning home a changed person. This narrative arc instills a sense of empowerment and inspiration in young audiences, showing them that they, too, can overcome challenges and grow as individuals.

            6.         Moral lessons: Children’s stories and movies that utilize the monomyth often convey moral lessons and values. Through the hero’s journey, young audiences learn the importance of perseverance, loyalty, courage, and empathy. These stories provide a framework for children to understand and internalize these values, shaping their personal development and character.

Examples of popular children’s movies that incorporate the monomyth include “The Lion King” (1994), “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001), and “Moana” (2016). Each of these films follows the hero’s journey, offering young audiences engaging stories that promote character growth, teach valuable life lessons, and inspire them to face challenges with courage and determination.

“Save the Cat,” a screenwriting guide written by Blake Snyder, was published in 2005 and quickly became popular among aspiring screenwriters and industry professionals. The book provides a concise, step-by-step approach to crafting a screenplay, offering a simplified version of the three-act structure and a set of easily applicable story beats.

While “Save the Cat” didn’t mark the end of the monomyth in contemporary screenplay development, it did contribute to a shift in the way screenwriters approached storytelling. Snyder’s method became influential due to its practicality and ease of use, with many writers adopting its formulaic structure as a template for crafting screenplays.

The impact of “Save the Cat” on screenplay development can be seen in several ways:

            1.         Formulaic storytelling: The popularity of the “Save the Cat” beat sheet led to a surge of formulaic storytelling, with many screenwriters relying on the prescribed beats to structure their narratives. This resulted in an increasing number of movies that followed similar patterns, which, in turn, led to criticism that Hollywood films had become too predictable and unoriginal.

            2.         Focus on commercial success: “Save the Cat” emphasizes the importance of creating screenplays that appeal to mass audiences and achieve commercial success. While this approach can result in financially successful films, it may also encourage writers to prioritize marketability over artistic expression or unique storytelling.

            3.         Diversification of narrative structures: As more screenwriters became aware of the formulaic nature of the “Save the Cat” structure, some began to explore alternative narrative structures in an effort to break away from the formula and create more innovative stories. This diversification has led to the rise of unconventional storytelling techniques, such as non-linear narratives, multiple perspectives, and genre-blending.

While “Save the Cat” has had a significant impact on contemporary screenplay development, the monomyth remains an influential and widely used narrative structure.

Several factors contributed to audiences in the 21st century becoming more savvy and growing bored with formula-driven stories:

Access to information: With the advent of the internet, audiences have gained access to a wealth of information about films, including behind-the-scenes content, analyses, and discussions about storytelling techniques. This increased exposure has made audiences more aware of the narrative structures and formulas used in movies, making it easier for them to recognize and become disenchanted with formulaic storytelling.

Globalization and exposure to diverse storytelling: The 21st century has seen an increase in the global exchange of media, enabling audiences to watch films and TV shows from various countries and cultures. This exposure to diverse storytelling styles and narratives has broadened viewers’ tastes and made them more discerning, reducing their tolerance for repetitive and formulaic stories.

The rise of streaming platforms: The emergence of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu has provided audiences with a vast array of content to choose from, making it easier for them to find unique stories that cater to their interests. This abundance of choice has raised the bar for filmmakers, who now need to create more innovative and engaging content to capture viewers’ attention.

Changing social and cultural values: As society evolves, so do the values and expectations of audiences. In the 21st century, there has been a growing demand for more inclusive and diverse storytelling that reflects the experiences of different communities and social groups. Formula-driven stories that rely on familiar tropes and stereotypes are often seen as outdated and uninspiring.

Increasingly sophisticated storytelling in other media: The 21st century has also seen the rise of sophisticated storytelling in other forms of media, such as video games, graphic novels, and podcasts. These alternative forms of storytelling have pushed the boundaries of narrative and engaged audiences in new ways, raising their expectations for the quality and originality of stories in film and television.

As a result of these factors, 21st-century audiences have become more discerning and less satisfied with formula-driven stories. Filmmakers must now strive to create innovative, engaging, and authentic narratives that resonate with contemporary viewers and reflect the diverse experiences and values of modern society.

In this context, the monomyth has adapted and disguised itself in various ways to maintain its relevance and appeal to contemporary audiences. Writers have had to evolve their approach to storytelling to cater to audiences seeking different perspectives and depth. Some of the ways the monomyth has evolved and how writers have adapted include:

Subverting expectations: To keep audiences engaged, writers have begun to subvert the expectations associated with the monomyth, playing with its structure and tropes to create fresh and surprising stories. This can involve twisting familiar elements, introducing unexpected outcomes, or blending genres to create unique narrative experiences that keep viewers on their toes.

“Game of Thrones” (2011-2019): The TV series is known for its unpredictable plot twists and subversion of traditional fantasy tropes, often challenging the audience’s expectations and defying the typical hero’s journey structure.

Embracing diverse perspectives: Writers have started to incorporate diverse perspectives into their stories, bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront and offering new angles on the hero’s journey. By focusing on characters from different backgrounds, genders, and cultures, writers can explore alternative paths to personal growth and transformation that resonate with a broader audience.

            •          “Black Panther” (2018): This Marvel film not only presents a unique take on the hero’s journey, but also brings African culture and representation to the forefront, offering a fresh perspective on the superhero genre.

            •          “Coco” (2017): Pixar’s animated film follows the story of a young Mexican boy who embarks on a journey through the Land of the Dead, showcasing a rich cultural background and a non-traditional hero’s journey.

Complex and layered narratives: To maintain audience interest, writers have begun crafting more complex and layered narratives that go beyond the traditional monomyth structure. This can involve employing non-linear timelines, multiple storylines, and interwoven character arcs that require more active engagement from the audience and offer deeper insights into the human experience.

“Westworld” (2016) This TV series uses a non-linear timeline and multiple interconnected storylines to explore themes of consciousness, artificial intelligence, and human nature, providing a complex and engaging narrative experience.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004). Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, this film tells the story of a couple, Joel and Clementine, who undergo a medical procedure to erase each other from their memories after their relationship falls apart. The narrative follows a non-linear structure, with events unfolding in reverse chronological order as Joel’s memories are being erased. The film challenges the traditional monomyth structure by focusing on the complexities of love, memory, and identity, while presenting a unique narrative experience that keeps the audience engaged and emotionally invested.

Character-driven storytelling: Writers have shifted their focus towards character-driven storytelling, emphasizing the emotional and psychological journey of their protagonists rather than adhering strictly to the monomyth’s formula. By delving deeper into characters’ motivations, internal conflicts, and relationships, writers can create more nuanced and relatable stories that resonate with modern audiences.

            •          “Breaking Bad” (2008-2013): The TV series follows the transformation of Walter White from a mild-mannered high school teacher to a ruthless drug lord, focusing on his internal struggles and character development rather than a traditional hero’s journey.

            •          “Lady Bird” (2017): This coming-of-age film centers on the emotional journey of the protagonist, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, as she navigates her relationships, personal identity, and future, offering a character-driven narrative that departs from the monomyth structure.

Thematic exploration: In response to audience demands for depth and substance, writers have placed a greater emphasis on thematic exploration within their stories. By weaving in themes that address contemporary social, cultural, and political issues, writers can create stories that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, ensuring their work remains relevant and engaging to viewers.

            •          “The Handmaid’s Tale” (2017-present): The TV series explores themes of oppression, gender roles, and resistance within a dystopian society, using the protagonist’s journey as a vehicle to address complex social and political issues.

            •          “Get Out” (2017): This horror film combines elements of the hero’s journey with a biting social commentary on racism, creating a thought-provoking narrative that challenges the audience’s perceptions and assumptions.

By adapting their storytelling techniques and embracing these new approaches, writers can continue to utilize the monomyth in innovative ways that cater to the evolving tastes and expectations of 21st-century audiences. This allows them to create stories that retain the powerful resonance of the hero’s journey while offering fresh perspectives and depth to captivate contemporary viewers.

The Virgin’s Promise, introduced by author Kim Hudson in her book “The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual, and Sexual Awakening” (2010), presents an alternative to the traditional hero’s journey. This narrative structure focuses on the internal growth of a female protagonist, emphasizing her journey of self-discovery, personal empowerment, and the realization of her true potential.

The Virgin’s Promise has become increasingly popular as filmmakers strive to represent more diverse perspectives and stories. For example, the film “The Shape of Water” (2017), directed by Guillermo del Toro, follows the protagonist Elisa, a mute woman who discovers her own strength and resilience through her relationship with a mysterious aquatic creature. The film demonstrates the power of the Virgin’s Promise as a narrative structure that highlights the importance of personal growth, agency, and self-actualization for female characters.

Another trend in modern cinema is the exploration of non-linear timelines and multiple perspectives. This narrative approach challenges the traditional linear storytelling format and allows filmmakers to delve deeper into complex themes, human emotions, and the intricacies of individual experiences.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1994) is a prime example of a film that employs a non-linear timeline. By presenting the story out of chronological order, Tarantino creates a unique narrative experience that keeps the audience engaged and encourages them to piece together the story themselves. This innovative approach to storytelling has influenced countless filmmakers in the years since its release.

The Rashomon effect, named after Akira Kurosawa’s ground-breaking film “Rashomon” (1950), refers to the phenomenon where different characters provide contradictory interpretations of the same event. This narrative technique allows filmmakers to explore the subjectivity of human experience, emphasizing the idea that there is no singular “truth” but rather multiple perspectives shaped by each individual’s unique experiences and beliefs.

A notable example of a film that utilizes the Rashomon effect is “The Usual Suspects” (1995), directed by Bryan Singer. The film’s intricate plot revolves around the testimonies of various characters, each offering a different perspective on the events that transpired. This approach not only keeps the audience guessing but also highlights the complexity and uncertainty of human perception and memory.

While Hollywood cinema has become synonymous with the mastery of various narrative structures, European and Asian cinema have developed their own unique storytelling styles that deviate from the mainstream Hollywood approach.

European cinema, particularly in countries such as France, Italy, and Germany, often places a greater emphasis on character-driven stories and explores themes of social realism, existentialism, and the human condition. Filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Federico Fellini have made significant contributions to the development of European cinema, pushing the boundaries of traditional narrative structures and delving into more experimental forms of storytelling.

Asian cinema, encompassing a diverse range of film industries across countries like Japan, China, South Korea, and India, has also cultivated its distinct storytelling styles. Japanese cinema, for example, is known for its rich history of samurai films and the works of acclaimed directors like Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu. Chinese cinema is recognized for its martial arts epics and historical dramas, while South Korean cinema has gained international acclaim for its gripping thrillers and innovative genre films.

These divergent storytelling styles, along with their unique narrative structures, reflect the cultural and historical contexts of each region. European and Asian cinema offer valuable alternatives to mainstream Hollywood narratives, enriching the global cinematic landscape and providing audiences with diverse perspectives and experiences.