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This Story is Shapely

Hello everybody!

Kurt Vonnegut’s PRESENTATION was short but so very funny and entertaining! This was a very fun ASSIGNMENT as well because most stories really do fall under the categories that he described. When Vonnegut began describing the story shape that includes a character rising from depression, to a happy medium, then back down to depression and finally to a happy ending, I immediately thought of a few movies and books. He really hit the bulls eye with his statement that millions of people love this story shape and it will make you millions if you follow it. Speaking of millions, my movie choice was Avatar. James Cameron (the director) is a smart man who knows what story shapes people love because Avatar is the number one movie world wide.


 The depressing beginning: Jake Sully is a wounded and disabled former marine who obviously hates his life and has nothing to hope for on a futuristic Earth. In the begging of the film he moves around in his wheelchair with darkness in his eyes and even gets beat up.

The rise: Jake is called to replace his deceased brother in a program on another planet called Pandora. He gets an Avatar (a second body made in the species that inhabits the planet). He begins to feel joy as his avatar form is not disabled and fully physically capable. The story continues to rise as he meets Neytiri (the Na’Vi princess) and she teaches him the ways of her tribe. Jake, our main character, keeps rising here as he learns to do many great things and falls in love with Neytiri.

The fall: Neytiri finds out that Jake was sent to infiltrate her tribe and to convince the people to move away from their home so that the humans can harvest a precious element. Neytiri feels betrayed and heartbroken and pushes him out. Meanwhile, the humans are planning a massive attack which they carry out and destroy the Na’Vi’s home and kill Neytiri’s father. Jake finds himself wondering a desolate, ash filled land.

The rise to final happiness: In order to save everybody, Jake manages to tame a legendary beast comes back to be accepted by Neytiri and her tribe.  They gather their weapons and other tribes and commence an epic battle with the humans. They win and save their planet and Jake leaves his weak human body behind to become a true Na’Vi for the rest of his life.

I made a video showing the shape of the story from beginning to end. It is without sound on purpose, except for a few dramatic parts.



An Example of a Digital Story

I chose a YouTube video by a woman named Maya Mia who does makeup. Her makeup videos are great but the one I chose is a VLOG that she did about her life in Tanzania. She goes through the safari and then actually interviews some of the local tribespeople. I call it a digital story because she goes through some of the interesting things that she is capable of doing in her country. She also narrates it and tells the audience more about herself. So in essence, it is a digital story of a day in her life. the footage is really great!

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  1. As much as I hate to play fact-checker with this one, “Avatar” is still the highest-grossing film of all time, making $2.788 billion at the worldwide box office in 2009, according to Box Office Mojo. James Cameron’s other career lynchpin, “Titanic,” is the second-highest grossing film, followed by “Jurassic World,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” and “Furious 7.”

    Also, Vonnegut only brought up the million-dollar paycheck when he talked about the Cinderella story in his lecture. He didn’t necessarily mean that all stories will give you that kind of pay-off, should they be written well.

    Finally, you didn’t play any sound in your video timeline until 39 seconds in, leaving the audience seeing things, without hearing any important cues leading into a specific moment. We want to pay attention to you, but we don’t have any reasons to.


    • admin admin

      Hey Mitchell!

      I think you may actually enjoy playing fact-checker. You are right. I do know that James Cameron is responsible for Titanic as well. I guess I was sure that Avatar fell into second place and didn’t double check. I will change it.
      About Vonnegut: After re-reading my post, I can see how one might think I just don’t understand what i’m talking about. When I was writing it, I was attempting to be humorous by joking that Avatar follows a popular story shape and has made James Cameron millions. I don’t actually believe that anybody writing a story with that shape will automatically make millions. Because then I would be a millionaire. Again, my fault for not carrying it across.
      Thank you for your input on the video. I am sorry you did not enjoy it. I made it as a very quick visual overview of the story and just left sound clips in during the dramatic build up. I will try to capture my audience more in the next videos.


  2. Maryna

    I liked the way you presented this. I think it was easy to follow and well written.

    John McMahan

    • admin admin

      Hey John!

      Thank you for the compliment. 🙂


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