Derivation of the Modomyth

Posted: November 17th, 2009 | Author: Richard | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments » -->

The Modomyth grew out of my attempt to re-derive Campbell’s Hero’s Journey from a functional perspective.

Narratives are Records of change.  Without change in the record, we have what I will refer to as a State.  When we have change between States in a Record, we have a Narrative.  I will address States on their own page.

It is important to realize that Records and Games are distinct.  Records are static while games are dynamic.  The Modomyth architecture described here deals with the static representation of Records.  Games and their differences from Records will be addressed on their own page.

Zero Node Model

Change Itself

Change Itself

Change Itself

The simplest way of viewing a change is as a point.  Let’s envision it as a circle.  We can think of this circle as a Cycle with no Nodes or as a “Node” that is all alone.  We can’t really consider it a Node yet because it is not a member of a cycle.  We will point to this circle when we are asked what change happens in the narrative.

One Node Model

Change & Cycle

One Node Cycle

One Node Cycle

This is where we will make the distinction between the overall change that is happening and the process through which it happens.  These two are equivalent in the change that they represent, but they are different methods of representing change.  A node represents change as a single point.  A cycle represents change as a succession of these point changes.  A node can be seen as a summation of all the changes in a cycle that it represents.  The node here, “Change”, will represent all the changes (nodes) that occur on the rim of the cycle.  When we begin nesting Cycles, the Change Node will represent the Cycle in the Super-Cycle.

Change = Cycle

Change = Cycle



Three Node Model

Input-Transform-Output & Change

Four Node Cycle

Three Node Cycle

We will now define three points along the Cycle around our Change Node.  We will define points before and after a node which transforms one into the other.

We’ll show two Nodes on the outside of our Cycle, though there are really three.  The two points of Input (before) and Output (after) will be the overlapping ends of the cycle.

This is the functional way of looking at the change.  Instead of a singular “Change”, we can represent it as a transformation with an input and an output which results in the change.  Our Input and Output overlap on our diagram because they are both comparable states of being: Nodes that are not involved in how the change happens.

Functional Interpretation

Functional Interpretation



Five Node Model

Introduction-Depart-Transform-Return & Change

Six Node Cycle

Five Node Cycle

This is where the expanding model takes on what we might consider traditional narrative qualities.  We are no longer considering the change as a function but as a procedure.  Steps are taken in between the input-transform-output of the function, detailing the progress of our state through the Change.  We show how we approach the change and how we return to a state that can be compared to the one we began in.

From a narrative perspective, we can say that we begin, go somewhere, do something, return to where we began, and experience the results of what we’ve done there.

Procedural Interpretation

Procedural Interpretation



Nine Node Model

Introduction-Call to Quest-Departure-Trials-Transformation-Outcome-Return-Resolution & Change

Nine Node Cycle

Nine Node Cycle

We will now approach an approximation of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey by introducing another set of transitional nodes along our Cycle.  We learn that the change must be undertaken in the Call to Quest.  We struggle to arrive at the place where we can transform our state.  We must deal with the outcome of the transformation and we must Resolve the differences between the old state and our new one.

This is the fully-developed Modomyth structure that is used in SceneCycle with some slight re-phrasing.  This re-phrasing and the reasons for it will be addressed in SceneCycle and the Modomyth.

Further Complexity

Fortunately, the narratives that people tell are much more complicated than eight distinct sub-steps of a single change.  How will we keep track of this complexity?

Increasing the number of nodes on a Cycle beyond eight is not an efficient way of managing the structure of changes.  More than eight nodes makes the structure rather rigid and difficult to remember.

Instead, we will interchange Cycles and Nodes, making the structure self-similar and fractal-like.  This is treated in greater detail by Nesting of the Modomyth

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