Are Harry Potter and Star Wars the Same Story?

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Let's talk about Harry Potter and Star Wars. Go on then, let's talk about Lord of the Rings as well. Traditionally, we have looked for the source of the magic of story in popular classics.

We analyse the arrangement of information in Harry Potter and Star Wars to try to find the common story structures that are possibly why a story is special. The outcome is a set of structures that we hope might be magically powerful if re-used in the same way in other narrations.

We document the structures and rules of the Harry Potter and Star Wars stories into a formula for applying them and peddle them in ‘How to Write’ books and seminars.

Table of contents
  • Harry Potter and Star Wars
  • Traditional Story Theory
  • Off of a Lifetime
  • What is Story? FAQs

From this approach we get old chestnuts like the idea that all stories ever told can be reduced down to versions of only seven essential plots. Or sometimes it is five. Or three. Or even just the one — the fabled “Universal Plot”. Those who like this idea go on to show how you can interchange Luke Skywalker with Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins and you will find the same underlying story in Harry Potter and Star Wars. And Lord of the Rings. What is going on? Have these people discovered the Holy Grail? Is this the Mythical Substance of Story?

You might be forgiven for thinking they have, because traditional understanding of how stories work is based on finding common structures in existing texts. In reality, the entire structural approach to story theory fails us, and its flaws are beautifully exemplified in this ‘universal plot’ example. Plot is not the same as story in the same way that a canvas is not the same thing as a painting and a piano does not define a sonata. Nobody ever points out that every portrait artist from Raphael to Van Gogh uses an identical canvas and three primary colours. Well, they do, and nobody is saying that this means there is essentially only one painting that the others all copy. Nobody ever ridicules Chopin and Beethoven for using identical pianos and then deploying NOTHING in their music but the same 12 semitones that make up an octave. Why not?! Because it is amazing and incredible that an infinity of incredible artworks emerge from three primary colours and an endless glory of piano music emerges from the limits these 12 notes impose. It is the same with stories. A limited number of sensible plot structures support an infinity of stories. All art has practical limits and story is no different.

Traditional story theory focusses solely on those underlying structures and fails to recognise the true power of story, which lies in characters, their behaviours and the storifications those behaviours can deliver. The purpose of structure is to facilitate the magic of art. It does not define it.

In my seminars, I use the following analogy: Every genius that has ever lived had a skeleton. There is a 100% correlation between the presence of genius and the presence of a skeleton deep within them. It is not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that the skeleton is the substance of genius. And if that wasn’t proof enough, there is further evidence, because if you remove the skeleton from a genius they suddenly don’t seem half so clever any more. So, it is obvious: To understand genius, we must understand skeletons.

Using this logic, story theory has devoted itself to an ever more forensic investigation of the structures in the text in order to discover the secrets and substance of story. Now, you and I know that the secret to genius is not in the skeleton, it is in the mind. It is equally true to say that the substance of a story is not found in the structure of the text, it is in the mind of the author.

The reason this book is a step forwards in narrative theory is because it treats the text as a facilitator and recognises that:

A story is a conversation between an author and a receiver.

  • Star Wars

Interchange Luke Skywalker with Harry Potter

  • Harry Potter

Interchange Harry Potter Luke Skywalker.

  • Lord of the Rings

Interchange Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter with Frodo Baggins

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You'd LOVE to make money from writing, and if someone, somewhere gave you a chance, you'd put the work in, that's for sure.

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What Writers say about David

"David Baboulene’s insights into storytelling have been hugely helpful to our production. His in-depth understanding of plot, character motivation, and his theory of the ‘knowledge gap’ are both illuminating and valuable."
Gillan Williams Producer: Hosts (2020), Exit Plan (2016), Feed Me (2022)
"David has a unique approach to writing that includes the vital ingredient – marketing. Gone is the traditional do-it-yourself attitude. David shows you how to be complete, step-by-step, from the outset. I now have a contract for my thriller trilogy. Success is unlocked when David turns the key."
Ray C. Doyle Author: Lara's Secret
"We cannot recommend David Baboulene highly enough. His insights and expertise on story creation have been invaluable, helping us get the script of Hallo Joe to the point where we’ve sold the option and look forward to full production”
Mark Halliley Scriptwriter: Hello Joe
"David's research can benefit every writer on the planet. Once you have learnt David's revolutionary approach, you will find the proof of it in every single story you ever hear, read or watch, ever again, and you will never write in quite the same way again. David’s discoveries are a game changer for writers."
Kris Mole Author : Gatecrashing Europe
David’s love and understanding of story has elevated many of my scripts which have subsequently gone on to be produced and win awards. He’s a fantastic story consultant – encouraging and full of good ideas. I can’t imagine ever writing a script without asking David to read it."
Carolyn Goodyear: Multi-Award Winning Scriptwriter
"David has been invaluable in my story development. He has improved my screenwriting immensely, and has given me the tools I need to write the best possible stories."
Cheryl Neve: Writer/Director
"Meeting David was an epiphany for me. It did take me a month or two to fully grasp his advice, but when it did sink in and I started to write again, I just felt so much freer and infinitely more creative. My book is now complete, and I am so, so proud of it. I am now sitting here looking at two contracts to publish."
Steve Askham: Author: Life's a Peach! (2022)
"Uncertain Kingdom (2020) The insight that David brought to our project was invaluable. David was able to turn our script that was a compelling story attracting initial interest into a page turner of a screenplay. He is creatively inspiring while maintaining a kind, collaborative humility that should not be underestimated. Thank you so much David."
Hannah Stevenson Producer - Eaten by Lions (2019)
"Writer Story is based on the psychology in the conversation between an author and an audience. David brings the world genuinely new tools and methods that give you an objective and measurable understanding of how good your story is and clarity in how to improve it. Highly recommended."
Alex Marx:
"Author Every session provided another ‘eureka moment’ for me; another sudden insight into ways to improve my stories and find direction for me as a writer."
Lauraine Faulkner
"David's work can benefit every writer on the planet. A game changer for writers."
Kris Mole: Author Gatecrashing Europe
"Everyone who works in story industries needs to know what David Baboulene knows."
Alex Marx: Actor/Writer

What Writers say about David

"David Baboulene’s insights into storytelling have been hugely helpful to our production. His in-depth understanding of plot, character motivation, and his theory of the ‘knowledge gap’ are both illuminating and valuable."
Gillan Williams Producer: Hosts (2020), Exit Plan (2016), Feed Me (2022)
"David has a unique approach to writing that includes the vital ingredient – marketing. Gone is the traditional do-it-yourself attitude. David shows you how to be complete, step-by-step, from the outset. I now have a contract for my thriller trilogy. Success is unlocked when David turns the key."
Ray C. Doyle Author: Lara's Secret
"We cannot recommend David Baboulene highly enough. His insights and expertise on story creation have been invaluable, helping us get the script of Hallo Joe to the point where we’ve sold the option and look forward to full production”
Mark Halliley Scriptwriter: Hello Joe
"David's research can benefit every writer on the planet. Once you have learnt David's revolutionary approach, you will find the proof of it in every single story you ever hear, read or watch, ever again, and you will never write in quite the same way again. David’s discoveries are a game changer for writers."
Kris Mole Author : Gatecrashing Europe
David’s love and understanding of story has elevated many of my scripts which have subsequently gone on to be produced and win awards. He’s a fantastic story consultant – encouraging and full of good ideas. I can’t imagine ever writing a script without asking David to read it."
Carolyn Goodyear: Multi-Award Winning Scriptwriter
"Meeting David was an epiphany for me. It did take me a month or two to fully grasp his advice, but when it did sink in and I started to write again, I just felt so much freer and infinitely more creative. My book is now complete, and I am so, so proud of it. I am now sitting here looking at two contracts to publish."
Steve Askham: Author: Life's a Peach! (2022)

What Writers say about David

"David is truly a master when it comes to the science behind storytelling."
Craig Hinde: Producer/Director
"David is truly a master when it comes to the science behind storytelling."
Craig Hinde: Producer/Director
"Everyone who works in story industries needs to know what David Baboulene knows."
Alex Marx: Actor/Writer
"David's work can benefit every writer on the planet. A game changer for writers."
Kris Mole: Author Gatecrashing Europe
"Author Every session provided another ‘eureka moment’ for me; another sudden insight into ways to improve my stories and find direction for me as a writer."
Lauraine Faulkner
"Receiving a publishing deal was a dream turned reality. In my acknowledgement page is written: David Baboulene: I did it, and you are a heck of a teacher!"
Kerri Cuevas Author

"David Baboulene is a genius!"

Marc Zammit: Writer/Producer/Director

"David is The Story Ninja!"

Nick Wild: Writer/Producer/Director

"David is The New Aristotle."

Craig Hinde: Writer/Producer/Director

What is Story? FAQs

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