The definition of story, why all stories and characters seem the same, why conflicts and themes seem similar, originality in story, and the difference between feature films and the animated short.

Universal Story

In the 20th century, Joseph Campbell, an American mythology professor, found that there were universal images and characters that existed in one story shared by all cultures through all time periods. Because this story occurred again and again, he called it the monomyth--the one story, the universal story.


create problems, obstacles, and dilemmas that place the character in some form of danger or jeopardy, either physically, mentally or spiritually. This means that there will be something at stake for the character if they do not overcome the conflict.

Themes are often based on human needs

Physical needs
Mental needs
Spiritual needs


Identify the story elements of this short film.

Other Elements of Story:

Location. Stories take place in a space. This is the place, time period or atmosphere that supports the story.

Inciting Moment. In every story, the world of the character is normal until something unexpected happens. This unexpected event begins the story.

Story Question. The inciting moment will set up questions in the mind of the audience that must be answered by the end of the story.

Theme. Stories have meaning to the character and to the audience. The theme or concept is the underlying larger idea that the story communicates. It is the deeper meaning of the story. Common themes include man prevails against nature, technology advances against man, and love conquers all.

Need. In order for the story to have meaning to the character, he or she needs to learn something to achieve the goal.

Arc. When a character learns--or doesn't learn--there will be what is called an emotional arc or change in the character.

Ending/Resolution. The ending is what must be given to the viewer to bring emotional relief and answer all of the questions of the story. The ending must transform the audience or the character.

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