On the Jarvis Method
Allow Me, John Jarvis, to Introduce Myself…
Over the next months – and, I hope, years – you’re going to be hearing a lot from me. I’m going to be cramming down your throat…I mean, discussing…my ideas about writing fiction. My ideas are known as The Jarvis Method and they are most well known through the StoryCraft Software. And I am very proud of that Method. I developed it gradually over more than 30 years of observing and studying the classics of literature, theatre, and cinema.
For this first column, I merely wish to explain why I think The Jarvis Method has gained such a wide following among writers. First, though, I realize that many of you may be unfamiliar with the Method. Indeed, probably most of the readers of this Internet page are fairly novice at writing fiction. So I strongly recommend that you consider taking at least the introductory course in writing fiction, if not the actual software program, called Storycrafting: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Writing Fiction, the course provides an easy way to learn how to write well-thought-out stories. I’m biased, of course, but I really do think that it’s the best course available. (This course is included in the StoryCraft New Edition software version 2024 and later and can be found in the Learning Center under the Guidebook tab.)
The Jarvis Method incorporates many of the general principles laid down by Joseph Campbell, particularly in his Hero with a Thousand Faces. During his eminent career, Campbell dissected the myths of most of the cultures in human history and identified the essential characteristics of all of these myths. In a nutshell, Campbell revealed that all myths are essentially stories of a hero on a journey of discovery, facing an antagonist in a strange world. That’s a considerable oversimplification, but it is the basis for most of the world’s fiction. And it is significantly refined in The Jarvis Method.
But why, you ask, is that approach so attractive to writers? For one thing, it is a proven approach. Indeed, there is no other approach to story-writing as ancient as this one. The Jarvis Method, though, is not simply a refinement of Campbell’s mythological approach. I designed it by looking specifically at the great works of fiction, including some of the most successful and critically acclaimed screenplays as well as the traditional classics of fiction. Time and time again I discovered the same patterns. And it was those patterns that I incorporated into the Method.
And finally, I am told by numerous authors that the Method works. People who have used StoryCraft software are frequently telling me that the stories they now write come to them much easier. They often say that the story seems right. What they are all trying to express to me is, I think, that stories using the Jarvis Method have a kind of natural flow to them. And well they should. For they mirror the classics!
— John Jarvis