Classic Hollywood Example

In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Professor Indiana Jones, archeologist and adventurer, races to find the Ark of the Covenant thought to be buried beneath the lost city of Tannis during biblical times. The Nazis are the central obstacle. They are also trying to locate the Ark for the power it could bring to their terrible cause. A former lover and an old friend team up with Jones to help him reach his goal.

Many adventure and fairytale stories can be described using the three main components to Classic Hollywood Structure. In Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, hero d’Artagnan travels from a country town to Paris to become a Musketeer, the King’s elite guard, like his father. His main obstacles are his lack of experience and the evil Cardinal Richilieu. He is helped by three more experienced Musketeers. D’Artagnan reaches his goal when he helps save the Queen’s honor. In Disney’s Snow White, the heroine’s goal is to stay alive and her obstacle is her stepmother, a witch, who wants her dead. The heroine is helped by a kindly woodsman, the Seven Dwarves, forest creatures, and ultimately the Prince.

Stages

The simplicity of this narrative structure means if the storyline does not include these four stages, then it is not Hollywood Structure. This structure never varies.
1. Hero
Introduce and establish a protagonist—the main character who is usually the hero. Identify...
Example

In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Professor Indiana Jones, archeologist and adventurer, races to find the Ark of the Covenant thought to be buried beneath the lost city of Tannis during biblical times. The Nazis are the central obstacle. They are also trying to locate the Ark for the...

Learning Applications

When to apply this structure:
A good clue to using this narrative structure is when a storyline has a strong, active hero with a clear goal and a significant obstacle. Complications generally arise when working to eliminate the obstacle, but the obstacle and goal are obvious and...