Jared, you cover a lot of territory in your comments and it’s good stuff. In general, your observations remind me my blog post: Inside Out vs. Outside In writing. The latter is where it can get dangerous using some predetermined formula / paradigm, forcing characters to do things at certain points to hit those ‘markers’. If on the other hand, you work from Inside Out and really dig into the characters so that the story structure emerges from that process, and THEN the story happens to align with a known story structure type, nothing wrong with that.
Tons of movies have conventional story structures and almost ALL of them fall into the three movements of the Hero’s Journey
Separation — Initiation — Return
Re using the 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey as elucidated by Chris Vogler (J. Campbell actually referenced 17 in “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”) doesn’t really fit conventional story structure in Hollywood a la the eight sequence approach. That’s why I prefer the three broad movements cited above, a few of the HJ moments (e.g., Call To Adventure, Crossing the Threshhold, Ordeal) and focus mostly on what Campbell had to say about the Hero’s transformation.
Thanks for your post, Jared. Interesting observations.