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Dan Harmon’s Story Structure Guide – Free eBook

on Jan 18, 2016

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Storytelling continues to be a popular topic amongst fundraisers, but I find that practical advice for beginners is difficult to find. Most of us know why great storytelling is valuable, while how to tell a great story remains unclear for many.

Agreed? If so, then this eBook is for you. I’ve compiled it entirely for educational purposes so you can download and print or share as you please.

Dan Harmon’s Story Structure Download: PDF or EPUB

Trust me, I think you’ll like it. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Who is Dan Harmon? He’s probably best known for creating the TV show Community, co-creating Rick and Morty, and host of a weekly live podcast called Harmontown. Prior to all that he co-founded Channel 101, a monthly non-profit film festival wherein filmmakers create and screen a five minute “pilot” that was voted on by their peers. The best were featured online and able to make another episode. Keep in mind, this was a few years before YouTube existed at all.

That’s where this guide comes in. Dan posted a six-part tutorial for current and would-be Channel 101 writers on the basic structure that underlies the stories we know and love. It’s not a guide on how to be a great writer, it’s an explanation of the structure that great stories follow – intentionally or not.


Good structure is the best weapon we can use in the fight against corporate garbage because good structure costs nothing, is instinctive to the individual and important to the audience. For all their money, computers and famous actors, the Hollywood factory is constantly being challenged and often buried by individuals like you, people who started by realizing that they were sick of the shit they were seeing and wrote a good story from the deepest level of their unconscious mind. I am trying to show you how to make your own gunpowder.

If you’re thinking it won’t be useful or applicable to you because it was written for an audience of aspiring TV writers, just trust me and give it a peek. The first chapter is a little over 150 words, and that alone will be useful the next time you sit down to write your next donor report, email appeal or storyboard a video.

This post was by Brock Warner. Currently in Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value on philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a fundraising professional, Brock values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and to see our hard work be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with him on Twitter at @BrockWarner or on LinkedIn.

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