YouTubers Need to Understand Dan Harmon’s Storytelling Circle

YouTube Storytelling

Storytelling is at the heart of YouTube content creation. Whether it’s vlogs, skits, or educational videos, YouTubers strive to engage their audience through compelling narratives. While many creators have a natural knack for storytelling, understanding the principles behind effective storytelling can elevate their content to new heights. One powerful tool that YouTubers should familiarize themselves with is Dan Harmon’s Storytelling Circle.

Dan Harmon, known for his work on popular TV shows like “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” developed the Story Circle as a narrative structure that writers can use to shape and refine their story ideas. While it was initially created for screenwriters, its principles can be applied to any form of storytelling, including YouTube videos.

The Story Circle consists of eight steps that outline the journey of the protagonist. These steps provide a framework for character development and plot progression. Let’s delve into each step and explore how YouTubers can leverage the Story Circle in their content creation.

  1. You: A character in their zone of comfort Every story begins by establishing the protagonist in their familiar environment. This step serves as the “before” picture, allowing the audience to understand the significance of the character’s transformation later on. YouTubers can introduce themselves or their main character, setting the stage for what’s to come.
  2. Need: Wants something The second step involves introducing a desire or a problem that the protagonist wants to solve. This desire becomes the driving force behind the story. YouTubers can clearly establish what they want to achieve or explore in their videos, providing a sense of purpose and direction.
  3. Go!: So they enter an unfamiliar situation In this step, the protagonist takes action and ventures into an unfamiliar situation. This marks the beginning of the journey and the transition from the first act to the second act. YouTubers can show themselves stepping out of their comfort zones, embarking on new adventures, or facing unique challenges.
  4. Struggle: They have to adapt The fourth step focuses on the protagonist’s struggles and the need to adapt to overcome obstacles. YouTubers can showcase the challenges they encounter and the efforts they make to navigate through them. This step creates tension and keeps the audience engaged.
  5. Find: In order to get what they want At the midpoint of the Story Circle, the protagonist finds what they have been seeking. It could be a solution, a discovery, or an important realization. YouTubers can present the moment of achievement or revelation in their videos, offering a sense of progress and fulfillment.
  6. Suffer: Yet they have to make a sacrifice To progress further, the protagonist must pay a price or make a sacrifice. This step represents the lowest point in their journey, where they face despair or hardship. YouTubers can introduce moments of struggle or setbacks, highlighting the emotional depth of their story.
  7. Return: Before they return to their familiar situation In the penultimate step, the protagonist returns to their familiar environment. However, this return is not without its challenges. They may face a test or obstacle that needs to be overcome. YouTubers can depict their return to the familiar setting while emphasizing the changes and growth that have occurred.
  8. Change: Having changed fundamentally The final step signifies the protagonist’s fundamental change. They have transformed throughout their journey and are no longer the same person they were at the beginning. YouTubers can highlight personal growth, newfound wisdom, or lessons learned, showing the impact of their experiences.

By understanding and implementing Dan Harmon’s Storytelling Circle, YouTubers can craft more engaging and impactful narratives. The structure provides a roadmap for character development, plot progression, and emotional arcs. It encourages creators to think about their main characters’ motivations, actions, and the consequences they face.

It’s important to note that the Story Circle is a descriptive framework, not a formula. It doesn’t dictate what YouTubers should create but rather guides them in how to tell their stories effectively. Creators can overlay the Story Circle on existing films, analyze its application, and adapt it to suit their unique content.

To leverage the Story Circle effectively, YouTubers should consider the strength of each step in their videos. Are they establishing a clear zone of comfort and desire? Are they showcasing the protagonist’s struggles and growth? Are the changes and transformations evident?

Additionally, studying other storytelling frameworks such as the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell and Save the Cat beats by Blake Snyder can provide further insights and inspiration.

YouTubers can greatly benefit from understanding and applying Dan Harmon’s Storytelling Circle. By utilizing this narrative structure, they can create more compelling, engaging, and impactful videos. So the next time you’re planning your YouTube content, consider incorporating the power of storytelling using the Story Circle. Your audience will thank you for it!