Saturday, November 12, 2011

Embryo - or the screen writing of the scientific method

According to Christopher Booker, there are seven basic plots. I had always the intuition that the scientific method was an example of "the quest": the scientist (i.e., hero) goes looking for something, often with collaborators. But I never thought that the link between story telling and the scientific method would be so obvious. I recently read an article in Wired about Dan Harmon, the creator of and screen writer for Community. The author, Brian Raferty, explains how Harmon came up with the concept of an "embryo":
He began doodling the circles in the late ’90s, while stuck on a screenplay. He wanted to codify the storytelling process—to find the hidden structure powering the movies and TV shows, even songs, he’d been absorbing since he was a kid. “I was thinking, there must be some symmetry to this,” he says of how stories are told. “Some simplicity.” 
Harmon has a visual for this embryo, where a character goes through a series of phases:


I thought this sounded very similar to the scientific method (this is the visual I use in most of my classes):
But how can I make that link more explicit? Here is step 1:
 And this is step 2:

  •  Zone of comfort = information
  • You want something = question
  • Unfamiliar situation = hypothesis that could explain the question
  • Adapt to it = a prediction based on the hypothesis
  • Get what they want = test of the prediction
  • Pay heavy price = hypothesis not supported (or if you are lucky, supported)
  • Return to familiar situation, but changed = information increase
Even the tools to develop the plots are similar to my tools: the whiteboard.



vs.

But somehow I don't think I would make it in Hollywood?

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