Super Structure

Spirit Catcher

(Our first book on symbolism)

John Fraim


James Scott Bell hits at the most important topics for writers of drama in his Super Structure. His is a short but important little book on creating the most drama in a story. The first chapters of his important book are concerned with the following as creating the beginning segments for a powerful story:

– Disturbance – From the daily life of character.

– Care – Needs a fuzzy friend to show compassion and emotion.

– Arc – Theme of story. Show Hero on one side when begins story and on the other side when the story ends.

Really, clear statement the structural landmarks of a story. The author who wants to make a dramatic statement needs to go through these particular “segment/signposts/milestones” of a particular story in order for the power of the drama to build.

The disturbance needs to rock the crap out of the world of the hero. It shouldn’t be some little piss-ant event that no one really cares about. But rather the big event the author can conjure up when attempting to put this down into writing in a truthful manner.

* * *

And, the hero (or heroine) needs to undergo a symbolic change during their journey from the beginning got he end of a story. In effect, drama is the most effective when it poses opposites between the beginning and ending of a particular story. This type of dynamic represents the real dynamics of symbolism at work. The grand change from masculine to feminine or from feminine to masculine. These are really the underlying dynamics of all modern stories.

And, of course, in the collective swings of modern collective culture.

All of this was envisioned in our manuscript written around 1993. The first expression of our beliefs on modern symbolism. The manuscript was The Symbolism of Place. It has never been traditionally published except on our website It is behind much of our theories and ideas on screenplay structure.

The ideas of Symbolism of Place proposed a two-dimensional view of a story. The dimensions representing by the vertical and horizontal symbolism of the cross. There is the linear (horizontal) movement of the story from the beginning to the end. Linear time is always a conflict between opposition symbols. The symbols at the beginning of a story for a hero or heroine are opposite from the symbols at the ending of the story for the hero or heroine. If true drama is to be engaged.

While the horizontal bar of a story is between symbol oppositions, the vertical bar of a story is about correspondences of symbols, or,  that are similar and not opposite from each other. The symbolism of the cross in Christianity has always been about time more than anything else. Between linear time and present time. The intersection of horizontal and vertical. What could be a more important intersection?

The proposition symbolism brings to the movies is simple. It sees a symbolic change in symbols between the first part of a story and the end part of a story. And, the vertical scenes told at points in this horizontal, chronological, line. It is individual points in time, or scenes, that need alignment of similarities.  The true Theory of Correspondence is a theory related to the moment in time rather than the movement of time.

The theory of applying symbols and symbolism to stories was expressed in the above manuscript. To this date (August 2015) I still do not believe it has found much (or really any) application to modern drama or writing in general.

Those intertersted in seeing the original manuscript click on the below link.

Fire me an email if you’re interested in discussing something.






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