What Is An Origin Story?


Origin stories are the birthing stories of the main characters. Where their journeys began and why things turned out as they have? They give the audience an understanding of the characters’ psychology and helps us make sense of the choices they make in the story. The origin is the missing piece of the story puzzle that adds depth to conclusion of the story.

The origins are often austere, understated and steeped in hardship or ordinary circumstances.

Origin Stories Are Powerful

Origin stories are very powerful stories that refer to the main character discovering their true essence. Their true selves. They are stories of destiny where the main character discovers who the truly are and their role in the world.

Origin stories are closely tied into super-hero movies where the main character finally appreciates the magnitude of their powers and helps them fully understand why they are the chosen ones.

These stories involve major struggles and conflict as the main character is initially trapped in a world that is not destined for them. It may be safe, secure and conventional, but ultimately inauthentic.

Origin Stories Are Prequels

Origin stories may be considered at as the prequel to the main story. They are designed to be revealed after the main character has solved the world problem. They are designed to give them a sense of self and purpose  to help them make sense of the ensuing events.

Despite the veneer of calmness and serenity, the main character faces an inner turmoil because they sense something simply isn’t right. This sensation is the trigger that forces them to dig deep within themselves. to explore.

They initially suppress these urges because their current world is too comfortable. They understand it and don’t want the burden of change. Being content in this world is far removed from being fulfilled because destiny will unveil itself upon them. Often through harsh lessons.

Then an uncomfortable event forces them to act. It involves threats to themselves, their loved ones or the world at large. The floodgates have opened and dark forces are unleashed; physical, psychological and environmental.

They have some basic skills to tackle the problem, but lack the confidence or maturity to exploit them fully. They are scared and yearn for the familiar world that has been taken away from them.

There is often a mentor which helps them improve their skills, but never actually saves the day for them. They only step in if the main character steps into a pothole and needs immediate assistance.

The main character grows reliant on the mentor to solve the problem. At some point, often at the end of the second act, the mentor dies when they believe the main character is ready to tackle the world problem. And they do in the third act, with a new found strength and confidence.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. James Limas says:

    Thank you for the useful information. Is there a possiblity of some articles discussing the beats unique to each genre (and possibly sub-genres)?? I feel lucky to have discovered your endeavors here, read every entry, and look forward to future entries. Thank for your efforts, you are helping many.

    1. DO a search under GENRES. Some articles discuss story beats but most discusss overall genre conventions.

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