Thursday, August 4, 2016

Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr

Jason Holborn is a fan of The Moral Premise and independent filmmaker residing in Toronto, Canada. A while back he came across The Story Diamond on my writing aids page and how it demonstrates the coincidence of various story structures.

[A full explanation of the Story Diamond is presented in my On-Line Storycraft Training series.]

The structure that caught his fancy was Jeffrey Schechter's interpretation of Carol S. Pearson's archetypes explained in her earlier book THE HERO WITHIN. (Jeffrey's book is MY STORY CAN BEAT UP YOUR STORY! and I discuss Carol's latest effort in a recent blog on AWAKENING THE HEROES WITHIN.)

The structure that Jason vamped on in a blog back in 2013, but which I just came across, is Orphan, Wandered, Warrior, Martyr.

Jeffrey's take, which I have used in The Story Diamond is very simple and yet profound. The four archetypes identify the protagonist's primary mode of operation in each of the four equal acts of the movie.

  1. In Act 1: ORPHAN...lost...needing a quest.
  2. In Act 2A: WANDERER...chose the quest...but unsure how to achieve it.
  3. (stick in here a MOMENT OF GRACE (MOG) where S/He discovers what the story is really about)
  4. In Act 2B: WARRIOR...having discovered through the moral premise how to actually get what he needs.
  5. In Act 3: MARTYR for what he and his village back home needs.

Jason has contributed something very valuable, here. He's analyzed a number of films and described for us the above structure in them. Thank you, Jason, for permission to reprint this.

Immediately in the next paragraph, is Jason's post...copied verbatim...except for some formatting I've added to coincide with the numbers, as above.

(Sadly, Blogger only allows 200 characters in the labels...dumb!)


This is really something; I’ve often idly thought of unifying all of the various story structure writers’ ideas (and especially, terminologies) into one. They’re mostly talking about the same things, only in different terms. Someone beat me to it! Especially if you know these writers’ ideas already, you can stare at the Story Diamond for while.

I hadn’t before heard of Jeffrey Schechter or his concept of Four Archetypes, but coming across it here, I was set on fire! Mentally, I ran thru a slew of movies; it’s very interesting:


  1. Orphan: Unloved, over-sexed, unconnected, using women.
  2. Wanderer: Trying out business/entrepreuneurship, examining paranormality he didn’t exactly believe in before (“Are you even using that thing correctly?”).
  3. Moment Of Grace: “I respect you. It’s corny but I respect you.”
  4. Warrior: Fighting EPA and Peck. Getting serious about Zuul and Gozer, finds Dana in trouble. Fighting for freedom with Mayor.
  5. Martyr: “Cross the streams…..” “I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it.”


  1. Orphan: disconnected, no meaningful intimacy, poverty, struggling
  2. Wanderer: he never really thought of music before….
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Must recruit believers, make peace w/noisy neighbor, get a better mic, rid himself of unhealthy hangers on, and most of all, talk Skinny Black into hearing his demo
  5. Martyr: Anger gets best of him, he shoots entourage member, shoots his way out, arrested and jailed… Only to discover that in commercial hip hop, jail time is good; he is respected and listened to


  1. Orphan: her parents hate her, her friends hate her, her siblings don’t see her, she has nothing
  2. Wanderer: stealing cash, she goes to Hibiscus Island, connects with Rhonda, moves to Sydney, “This is my new life! I’m changing my name”
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Rhonda is paralyzed with cancer, Muriel must find new, real money and escape, sees the ad for David’s wedding
  5. Martyr: She might have saved her mother’s mental health; she sees that the marriage to David is fraudulent. She reclaims her dignity and self-respect


  1. Orphan: Omitting the obvious (dead parents): Unconnected lurker in the night, a “myth” figure. Disconnected from Rachel, and making saddened peace/acceptance with that fact, and the fact of his lonely life. Even famed ballerina doesn’t take his mind or eyes off of Rachel
  2. Wanderer: The Joker will kill until he unmasks; new territory he never anticipated.
  3. Moment of Grace: He refuses to kill the Joker and commits to his ideals.
  4. Warrior: He has to fight for his own morals and ethics, tested like he never anticipated (he expected to butt heads with the Mob, not a game-player idly screwing around with him).
  5. Martyr: “This is too much power for one man,” into, “I killed those men. That’s what I can be.”



  1. Orphan: Ex-patriate in exile, alcoholic, left behind in Paris and unable to accept, disconnected from his virtues and virtuous causes.
  2. Wanderer: Exploring Ilsa’s secret past. Meeting Strasser, encountering Nazi takeover of French Morocco.
  3. [MOG...see my on-line StoryCraft training course for a complete analysis of Casablanca (with clips no less.)—sw]
  4. Warrior: Making plans to challenge destiny.
  5. Martyr: Sacrifices himself to save Ilsa’s husband; luckily saved by friend-in-high-place.

I think it fits great.


  1. Orphan: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Plus, an Orphan, transported to another world)
  2. Wanderer: Wandering Oz.
  3. Moment of Grace: ‘I’ll help you… if you murder the Wicked Witch.’ She agrees. Scared Little Lost Girl takes on courage and masters Oz, as 
  4. Warrior: Trekking, fighting Monkeys, defeating Witch.
  5. Martyr: Toto discovers the Truth – there is no Wizard of Oz.

Total fit  (I may not have nailed Martyr)


  1. Orphan: Transplanted New Yorker. “When do I get to be an Islander?” “Never. You’re not born here, you’re an islander.”
  2. Wanderer: Unfamiliar with ocean deaths; unfamiliar with sharks and learning about them for the first time. Venturing into ocean for first time.
  3. Moment of Grace: Fear of ocean/water melts after son nearly dies; mans up to face the water.
  4. Warrior: Hiring Quint, chumming, barrels and harpoons.
  5. Martyr: Going down fighting with the ship for a community which rejects him.

Good stuff.

Curious about something smaller, ie.

  1. Orphan: Kills cop; on the lam. Hungry for connection w/Patricia.
  2. Wanderer: Exploring connection with Patricia (philosophical discussions, making emotional and physical contact). Wandering Paris for his owed money.
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: On the run from police; new plan to hideout in Montmartre.
  5. Martyr: Accepts Patricia’s disinterest in running away to Italy; he should have talked about her, not himself. Gives up the chase when alerted to Patricia’s betrayal; alerts friend in street to police’s knowledge, shot dead by cops.


  1. Orphan: Unsuccessful writer ex-patriate in Paris; slight English mistakes in French, evidently not local.
  2. Wanderer: Maybe Michel is alright for her…? Even if he goes against her goals and plans.
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Fights for place in Parvelesco press conference; defies police, feigns barely knowing Michel, sides with Michel and concocts hideaway plan in Montmartre.
  5. Martyr: Gives up Michel to prove she doesn’t love him (but she does).


  1. Orphan: Something’s up with Jack/The same old thing.
  2. Wanderer: What’s this!? What’s this?!
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Kidnap the Sandy Claws.
  5. Martyr: Shot down for his love of Christmas; Resurrection as King of Halloween.


  1. Orphan: “Simba, it’s all your fault.”
  2. Wanderer: Run away, and never come back –> Hakuna Matata.
  3. Moment of Grace: Rafiki and Nala find him, and Mufasa’s spirit visits: Runaway becomes Prodigal Son.
  4. Warrior: We’re going to fight your uncle for this??
  5. Martyr: You never told them your little secret — Simba is responsible for Mufasa’s death.


  1. Orphan: Mankind, subject to elements and predation, unable to fend for self, unable to cooperate, ruled by tribalism.
  2. Wanderer: Bestowed with intelligence, Man invents tools, predates, and murders, and unites beyond nations (tribes) to explore space, having bestowed intelligence to his tools.
  3. [ favorite movie of all time and I have to admit I've never analyzed it. —sw]
  4. Warrior: Man battles the SmartTool, and against all odds, Dave defeats and murders HAL.
  5. Martyr: Determined to find the promised answers, Man enters Gate – and dies, to be resurrected as a new creation.


  1. Orphan: Bye-bye home planet; he doesn’t fit in in Smallville or on Earth; all those powers and he couldn’t save his dad
  2. Wanderer: Arctic, 12 year space-time trip with Jor-El to discover himself, moves to Metropolis
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Tested by Luthor, he saves Hackensack and rebuilds San Andreas Fault
  5. Martyr: His dad only had one real rule… and now, he chooses to break it, to have Lois back


Great stuff.

Out of curiosity:


  1. Orphan: Disconnected lonely with mental impairment.
  2. Wanderer: Exits into neighborhood on quest to find dog.
  3. [MOG]
  4. Warrior: Defeats seductress; confronts unknown “mystery” dog. Draws blood in chase.
  5. Martyr: Discovers and comprehends that he is mentally impaired.

– It fits perfectly.

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