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

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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.

Photo Credits: JT Velikovsky

2 thoughts on “Writing the High ROI Screenplay (Part 12)”

  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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