Story Class 1.1 – The Big Picture

The first two sessions of our 8 week story class deals with two big pictures: 1. an overview of story structure and the hero’s transformation. 2. The pivotal moment where the hero sees the big picture and chooses the greater good – or not. The whole story and all its elements revolves around this climactic moment, the elements are as follows:

Five Stages of story structure:

1. The Call to Adventure

 Example: Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived at the edge of a forest. She always wore a red riding hood that her grandmother had made for her. One day her mother called her: ‘Little Red, would you take this basket of goodies to your sick gran on the other side of the woods?”

2. Debate and preparation

“Sure, Mom,” she replied and set off.
Her mom called after her: “Just remember Rad, there is a wolf in the woods, so stay on the path and do not stray.”

3. The Journey (tasks and team)

Little Red skips into the woods singing to herself. She is tempted to pick flowers for her gran. She hears mom’s voice in her head, but she picks them anyway. She meets the wolf and innocently tells him where she is going. She follows his advice and take the wrong path…

4. Ordeal and reward


Little Red and the Wolf
Little Red and the Wolf

When Little Red gets to Grandma’s house…all is not well. Gran looks very ill indeed. “Gran, why are your eyes so big? Your ears? Your mouth?” So much the better to see you with, hear you with, SWALLOW YOU WITH…


5. Return

A wood cutter hears a disturbing snoring sound from grandma’s house. He finds the wolf, cuts him open and sets the two women free. Yes, Little Red is no longer that little and she never wore the red hood again…

Four Forces for change

1. The hero with the goal: Little Red Riding Hood with a basket for Grandma.

2. The guide who supports: Mom with her advice

3. The obstacles which tempts and distracts: The sick grandma who may like flowers, who must be reached asap…

4. The enemy who opposes: The hungry wolf

Three levels of character

1. Action that can be seen from the outside: Little Red wheres her riding hood everyday, she accepts the challenge without hesitating and she skips into the forest.

2. Attitude that reveals internal motivation: She is eager, innocent and full of energy, motivated by fun and adventure.

3. Awareness that comes from seeing the big picture: she learns about making mistakes and failure, but also about strength and courage. She is now more grown up and far less naieve.

These work together throughout the story in a certain sequence. In the first class last night we played with Little Red Riding Hood. Above is an analysis of the story according to the elements of story structure. What you will not find here is the depth and meaning we each gained from the experience for our individual lives. For that you need to join us next week when we deal with the story of Jona in the belly of the whale!

Here is more info on our story class

Alternatively, whach this blog as we play with the questions :

What stage of the story are you in right now?

What forces work to help you transform your life?

What really drives you as hero of your life story?

How can you use all this in helping others be their own hero’s?

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren

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