Writing the High ROI Screenplay (Part 12)

This week we conclude with part twelve in a twelve part series of JT Velikovsky’s doctoral thesis: “Understanding And Exploring The Relationship Between: Creativity; Theories Of Narratology; Screenwriting; And Narrative Fiction Feature Film-Making Practices.”

By JT Velikovsky

So – if you’re still here – thanks so much for reading –and I’d like to round out this series of 10 guest-blogs for The Story Department with some food for thought on: holons and holarchies.

Understanding the rules which govern holons/holarchies (and therefore, memes in stories) explains how screen ideas, screenplays, and films (and even the film industry that produces them) – operate, due to the internal laws of holarchies

Okay so – firstly – what the heck is a holonanyay?

The term holon was coined for a philosophical concept described by Arthur Koestler in The Ghost in the Machine (1967).

‘A holon … is something that is simultaneously a whole and a part’; Koestler defines a holarchy as a hierarchy of self-regulating holons. (Koestler 1967: 48)

i.e. Your body is actually a holon:

Atoms, Molecules, Cells, Tissues, Organs, and The Whole Organism – i.e. You.

How Holarchies Work(The Laws of Holarchies)

The following is an extract from the 1995 online essay “Holarchies” by Flemming Funch (Funch 1995: http://www.worldtrans.org/essay/holarchies.html) – I commend it to you.

My own additions to this extract from Funch’s(excellent) essay are inserted below, in italics.


The holarchy of the Feature Film domain Analysis: JT Velikovsky



  • A holon is a node in a holarchy.
  • A holon looks up for what it needs to cooperate with and integrate with.

(e.g. A Screenwriter looks to a Producer, in the Field – to make their screenplay into a movie, by financing it – and then producing it)

  • It looks sideways for what it needs to compete with.

(A Screenwriter competes with other Screenwriters, for limited resources: namely, Producers – and also the total economic capital isfinite/limited, so Producers compete with each other, for Film Financiers…)

  • It looks down, for what it wants to command.

There is no-one “below” the Screenwriter in the film holarchy. (lol)

But– there are “film story” ideas (memes) “below” in the Culture – that a Screenwriter wants to `command’ (i.e. to select, vary, and transmit – into their screenplay and the culture)…Like genes in Evolution, right?

i.e. To recap – Evolution is just: the selection, variation, and transmission of genes.


So too – with memes (ideas/concepts) in culture…

i.e. In movie screenplays. (i.e ALIEN:`JAWS meets truckers-in-space.’)

When creating a film story, a Screenwriter selects, varies and then transmits these memes (story ideas / concepts) into their screenplay; a Screenwriter absorbs ideas and information (memes) from the Culture / Environment – and then combines, varies and selects all these for inclusion in their story/screenplay.

The complexity of this entire process is exponentially increased – when a Screen Idea Work Group (producers, etc.) is `infected’ with a contagious story meme (screenplay), created by (or, that emerges from) the writer…

  • Each holon cannot be fully explained by or predicted by a study of its parts. It is something more. A holon is also part of something bigger that it is being affected by. But at the same time it has a high degree of autonomy, it has a life of its own.

A screen idea/film story – as a holon – may also take on a life of its own during the development of the screen idea: a Screenwriter can be fired from their own film project, and – a new Screenwriter can be attached…

i.e. In some cases – the film story memeplex-holarchy actually `mutates’ so much, that the original Writer no longer `shares the vision’ as the Screen Idea Work Group (Director, Actors, Producers), and chooses to `part ways’ with the story meme, and/or the Writer/s can also be replaced by the Screen Idea Work Group – against their will! (Ouch.)

Notably this did not occur with any of the Top 20 ROI Films – except possibly with ET.i.e. John Sayles wrote a treatment for what was – possibly – going to be the sequel to `Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, but – Spielberg decided to take the story in another direction (and in another Genre, entirely) – and Melissa Matheson ultimately wrote the screenplay that became the film ET.

(But – Hollywood is like that, right? Hey – that’s showbiz.)

Holarchies extend throughout the Film system:


Ideally, like The Top 20 ROI films – your film story spreads all the way out– to the outer circle here: to the International Theatrical Cinema Audience.


The film industry is therefore a holarchy, and – a film story itself is a holarchy of memes.

Memes and memeplexes themselves are also: holons and holarchies.

And films themselves – are holons and memes.



All just something interesting to think about…

Till next time – Happy Screenwriting.


– JT Velikovsky

[box icon=”none”]
image020JT Velikovsky is a million-selling transmedia writer and consultant (films, games, TV, comix, novels) and produced feature film writer.

His doctoral thesis research on Film/Story/Screenplays of The Top 20 ROI Films can be found here.

[/box] Photo Credits: JT Velikovsky

About the Author

JT Velikovsky

JT Velikovsky is a million-selling transmedia writer and consultant (films, games, TV, comix, novels) and produced feature film writer. His doctoral thesis research on Film/Story/Screenplays of The Top 20 ROI Films can be found here.

Comments 2

  1. These articles should all end with links to at least the previous entry and the first entry or all entries with clickable links.

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