Here are some examples of what we think are great EconJourney stories.
If you want some help writing your own. Check out the writing guide below. All of the stories follow Joseph Campbell’s monomyth also know as the Hero’s Journey.
Basic story line
The hero’s journey begins with a description of the ordinary world where life is relatively peaceful. At some point, a disaster strikes that disrupts the existing equilibrium and forces your hero to confront a new reality that yields some difficult choices. Your hero searches for a solution, but with the existing knowledge and technology, one cannot be easily found. Your hero hears of a different world which might contain the answer. The essence of your story is therefore one where your hero journeys to the new world, discovers a solution, and returns to save the day.
The principle challenge
The principle challenge you face is to turn this basic story line into a complete narrative that uses economic concepts to solve the fundamental problem that is created once disaster strikes. You will chose the fundamental problem from a list of options or you can create your own. You must describe why the theme that you have chosen creates a serious problem and your task will be to create a solution. Developing a better understanding of economics will make it possible for you to solve the problem.
Setting the stage
Before beginning to write your story, you will want to create a basic outline that consists of: 1] your choice of theme; 2] the origins of the problem; 3] why the problem cannot be easily solved; and 4] an idea for a solution. Learning economics will enable you to add richness and detail to your story. It will also enable you to add some tension and drama. Unfortunately, since your knowledge of economics in the beginning is somewhat limited, it is difficult to lay out in advance exactly how your story is going to work.
Sequence of events
Let’s say that your ordinary world is based on a primarily agrarian society where the use of technology is somewhat limited and the standard of living is relatively low. Everyone has barely enough to survive and therefore life is relatively simple.
Once you have your ordinary world set, there must be something that shocks the world and intensifies an existing problem. For example, a drought occurs over a lengthy period of time that greatly reduces the food supply. Everyone begins to experience hunger and a new tension is created as individuals or groups try to gain a larger share of a dwindling food supply.
At this point, you are going to introduce a character who expresses dismay as neighbor fights neighbor over the limited food supply and your hero realizes using their limited economic knowledge that not much can be done. If the division of labor could be expanded, markets might develop and trade might occur. However, without an expansion of trade, the problem cannot be solved. Your hero comes to realize that without a source of comparative advantage, it is difficult to solve the fundamental problem.
Your hero needs to go off in search of knowledge and hopefully that new knowledge will provide a solution. Since you are the writer of this drama, it would be helpful at this point if you had an idea of what that solution might entail. For example, what if it was possible to develop a technology capable of controlling the weather; such that you could make it rain when needed so crops could grow and hunger could be averted? It is not important that you have worked out all of the details. Rather, what is important is that you have a sense of where you want to go. That there is a solution that your hero must uncover or develop and a journey is about to take place where all will soon be revealed.
Once you have thought about how existing technologies or business models cannot solve the problem and you have decided on something new that will solve it, the challenge becomes one of getting from the old to the new. It is here that your character needs to learn some basic principles that underlie modern economics so that your story can include the struggles that must take place as your hero undergoes the difficult task of acquiring the knowledge that will be needed to change the world.
New technologies or business models do not emerge out of thin air – instead they are the result of a discovery process that often requires the investment of considerable resources. Where will these resources come from? How will they be allocated? Once new ideas emerge, how will you make sure that they are not stolen? These are all important questions that will need to be answered in your story as the character of your hero grows and develops.
Now it is time to enter the learning phase of the journey where you and your hero learn some important economic concepts that enable them to fashion a solution to the fundamental problem. This often occurs in stories when the main character enters a new world where he or she is exposed to ideas, relationships and possibilities that before had not existed.
For example, in this new world, your main character experiences a more advanced division of labor. Specialization improves productivity and in turn, the increased productivity creates additional goods that can be bought and sold in a marketplace. Markets are great for ensuring that goods wind up in the hands of those who will use them best. Markets are also great at identifying potential new opportunities.
Investment in research and development efforts might lead to the creation of new products that use resources more efficiently or create entirely new markets. Hence if your solution to the fundamental problem rests on something new, then you will need to think about where the resources are going to come from in order to support this development.
Gaining access to resources to finance the development of something new is often associated with the ability to earn a profit on something that is old. Hence your character is going to have to learn how businesses work so that they can understand where the resources are going to come from to support the development of a solution. Profits emerge from being more efficient in the use of resources than the competition or by creating something unique that others find difficult to copy. Hence your story will need to incorporate those economic elements that help you to understand how it is possible to earn a profit in a competitive environment, but as importantly, how to keep those profits when others try to recreate the source of your success.
By securing needed resources, your hero can do what needs to be done to develop a solution to the fundamental problem. Hence with the additional resources, your hero in this story can develop a device that controls the weather. With the device in hand, he or she is able to travel back home and save the day.
Adding richness and texture
Since profits are the source of additional resources which are fundamental to the development of new solutions to old problems, an opportunity is created for adding richness and texture to your story. However, the addition of these elements can also add drama to your tale. Competition for resources, profits, new ideas, or new markets can become a source of tension that can lead to the success or failure of your character. Few stories are interesting without a series of twists and turns that makes the outcome unknown. Whether your hero succeeds or fails depends in part in how well they are able to gain the resources they need in order to fashion a solution that will save the day.
Nothing is ever easy and you need to add one or two subplots to your story to make it interesting for the reader. Perhaps there is an evil ruler who does not want the people to have an abundance of food. Or perhaps there is another group who hopes to steal the device so that they can effectively enslave the people by charging them such a high price to use the machine, that their lives are only marginally better. Alternatively, what if there is a group who believes that there is something fundamentally wrong with a device that can control the weather and seeks to destroy the abomination even if it means that many will starve?
Developing a strong character
Since your story is based on the hero’s journey and revolves around a single main character, you want to make sure that your hero is not one dimensional and hence boring. The journey is based on the notion that your hero grows and develops over time. That they experience various trials and tribulations, but become a better and stronger person as a result. Hence you want to make sure that you capture these elements as your hero advances from being someone who is quite ordinary and develops into someone who is truly extraordinary. In order for your hero to save the day, they must be worthy and it is up to you to describe the transformation that will make it possible.