Episode 256: What is happening in your story? (Part 2)

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the story grid podcast. My name is Tim Grahl. I’m your host, and I am a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me is Shawn Coyne. He’s the founder and creator of story grid and the author of the book, The Story grid. Also, I have Leslie watts. She’s our editor in chief at story grid publishing. And I have Daniel kowski, who is our Chief Academic Officer over at story grid universe. This week, we’re going over the four story Analysis Questions. Now this one went pretty long. So it’s going to end up being a two parter. But it’s really important because these four questions really help you nail what’s happening in each scene of your story. So Danielle is leading the way this week. So I’m going to kick it over to her to help us get started.

Danielle Kiowski  00:51

So let’s go to the fourth question. What story events sums up the scenes global value change? So this is going to be our scene event synthesis. And it’s going to wrap up into a tidy package, hopefully, the other answers to the three questions so that we can get a summary or synthesis of what’s going on in the scene as a whole. So Tim, what do you have for this one?

Tim Grahl  01:16

Well, I now feel pretty confident that what I have is wrong based on our discussion up until this point. So workshop it. Okay. So what I originally put was Mr. Struthers witnessed a murder and wants to tell the police what he saw, but changes his mind when he realizes the lieutenant of the precinct is the murderer.

Danielle Kiowski  01:36

Okay, so what I’m hearing there is that it’s very on the surface, so you’re going through the green progression of the scene from beginning to end. And so the key thing to do is to incorporate all three levels. So I have a template that I like to use to just start thinking about the, the scene event synthesis is to start with the ending value, and then say, when the climax and the trade off, and you can throw in something about the inciting incident if you want. But this really encapsulates the full play, because the ending value is it talks about what value space we’re playing, and where we get to, it tells us sort of the outcome of the scene, then the climax, as we talked about when we looked at the value shift is very important, because that’s what enacts that shift. And that’s what’s owned by our protagonists. And then the trade off is important, because that encapsulates the crisis. And so we’re going to get to these concepts more in the five commandments episode. But it tells us what the cost is, for our protagonist to enact this value shift. And that’s important because it gets at the double factor nature of the problem that Sam and the protagonist face. And so it’s if you just say, like, justice prevails when you tell the truth. That’s great. But it doesn’t tell you what the trade off is that you have to make to tell the truth. So if you say, you know, justice prevails, when when you tell the truth at the expense of loyalty to those in power or something like that, then you’re getting a trade off built in, we’re starting to make a statement about the context in which it’s important to tell the truth, and also, by extension, get at the boundaries in which making the other decision could be prudent. So thinking about that, let’s, let’s start with the ending value. So how would we start? Start this?

Tim Grahl  03:57

So we would say justice is served? Right? Because it’s a prescriptive, not a cautionary tale, because it moves in the positive direction.

Danielle Kiowski  04:08

Yeah, we tempered that a little bit, because we don’t know that justice will be served. So we said there’s a greater probability of justice when. So just to get a little bit more more nuance on that, because if you say justice prevails, or justice is served, that’s something that you might get out in a longer form story when you know whether the criminal is brought to justice or not. Okay. And then, so, so what we did is we looked at this on all three levels. And as Sean was just talking about, for a short story, we pop up to the blue, because it’s a complete unit of story in itself. And so it has this global this global sensibility, even though it’s within one scene, and so we looked at the statement though on blue, red and green because it can function are all Have these levels but, but where we came down was on the blue and the end. So they all start with the greater probability of justice. But then when we say when climax, and then the trade off, we can look at those kinds of concepts on all three levels, and look at how they impact the value shift and play. So so like when you’re asking your question earlier about, do we look at different value shifts, when we look at the main shift in the scene, if we can look, if we can look at the contributing factors to that value shift on all three levels, that can help us to really understand the Trinity plains of perception and how they tie together in that central trade off, and so, again, we’ll we’ll explore this in more depth later when we get into the, the five commandments and the and talking about the crisis. But this is in play at every level, because the problems are so important. So it’s like the Trinity planes of perception get tied together by this trade off choice. So So looking at the, at the template that we have, how would you talk about the climax, and then, so we can look at it at any of the three levels where you’d like to start?

Tim Grahl  06:19

Well, so as you were talking through it, I was trying to use the template you gave to write it out. So what I’m landing on currently, I’ll just give the whole thing. There’s a greater probability of justice when you choose to risk telling the truth, even when your life is threatened in the process.

Danielle Kiowski  06:38

Is that what Capella is that was Struthers does,

Tim Grahl  06:42

I can’t remember how much of this we’ve covered in previous I’m a little loss here. But the climax is not is the climax when he chooses to tell capelli what happened? Or is the climax, when he chooses to run out the door? Now I’m leaning towards, it’s when he chooses to run out the door when the lieutenant walks in the room.

Danielle Kiowski  07:10

So we looked at whether he ran out the door versus accused the lieutenant. Right, this is a we already talked about the different possible outcomes there. What about if he chose not to tell capelli his story,

Tim Grahl  07:27

oh, he probably still would have run out the door.

Danielle Kiowski  07:31

So so there are so I think, you know, choosing to tell capelli his story or not, is an important step along the journey. But it doesn’t get us to that core moment like there’s, there’s more movement still possible, it doesn’t force, it’s not a forced decision, in the same way that when he sees the lieutenant now that that turns the scene, and then he has to make the decision of what to do. So there’s more play more more room, he has more options left at the point where he’s deciding to tell capelli. So it was very clear, right, when we were discussing the the what if he didn’t run out of the room? The only other option he has, is to accuse the lieutenant really? It’s collapsed down to this binary, have you faced this guy or you don’t. Whereas if he doesn’t tell capelli his story, he has other options, he could keep insisting that he sees Lieutenant he could leave the station, he could ask to see a different detective, he could ask to submit a written complaint. There are many, many possibilities. And so he’s not through his exploration of the problem space yet. And so I would say that, that if you if you can think about it like that, then you can get to the core decision of the scene. And that’s going to be your climax. And that’s what you want to highlight here. So you’re leaning in the right direction toward running out of the room.

Tim Grahl  09:04

I think I’m having trouble with this because Mr. Struthers choosing to run out of the room in his mind. He doesn’t care about justice anymore. He’s because it’s an accident that him running out of the room serves justice, like he didn’t do that. So that he would be believed, right? He didn’t choose that to run out of the room because this will help capelli believe me. He I think at that point, he did not care about justice in you know, bringing the killer to justice. He just cared about saving his own skin. So it starts to feel like According to the template that that there’s a greater probability of justice. When you choose the coward’s route, like I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know how to say or when you run from responsibility. Like, what what do you say at that point?

Danielle Kiowski  10:20

Okay, so let’s let’s start out, I think just with the actual action, so he what’s the literal action that he does in the climax

Tim Grahl  10:30

set? Let’s see. He stared at the figure in the doorway. That’s the crisis probably in watch both men is their eyes met locked for an instance. No Struthers said, suddenly, I’ve changed my mind. I can’t do it. I have to go I have to go. He slammed his head on his head and ran out quickly, almost before I got into my feet.

Danielle Kiowski  10:50

Right. So he doesn’t say anything? He doesn’t. He doesn’t expose the lieutenant. Correct. So we have that summaries just keep silent. Okay. And as you pointed out, he doesn’t really care about justice at that point. So Struthers, we have Struthers keep silent to ensure the safety of his family. Right? At and what what would the trade off be? What’s he giving up there?

Tim Grahl  11:22

He’s giving up playing his role in bringing the lieutenant to justice.

Danielle Kiowski  11:28

Right, so he’s giving up exposure of the criminal.

Tim Grahl  11:31

This is where I’m getting lost in the weeds. Because unlike a typical thing, it would write like an old cliche version, it would be the lieutenant walks in, he’s like, that’s the murderer, you know, or something. So but somehow, the protagonist not doing that still serves justice. So I’m trying to figure out how you would make a coherent statement that doesn’t say basically, the way to serve justice is to run from your responsibility or something like that.

Danielle Kiowski  12:05

What you know, sometimes, the best way to serve something is to know when it should be in its proper place. And so it’s like if there’s something more primal at stake, sometimes you have to prioritize that thing, like the, like the safety of your family, above something that is less primal, like bringing someone to justice, who’s already committed the crime that they’re going to commit. It’s not like he has his wife locked away somewhere in she’s in mortal danger. She’s already been killed. There’s nothing that’s going to happen to her further. And so this is it’s about Struthers prioritizing, and the story is about pulling back and seeing the big picture. So it’s, it’s not necessarily about about Struthers weighing the possible ramifications about justice in that moment, because you’re right, he runs out of the room because he’s scared. But it’s about telling Sam it’s about giving Sam a pattern for acting in that moment. And so it’s telling Sam, responsibility isn’t always over. So when you say that he’s running away from his responsibilities it depends on how you view that responsibility. And whether he has already done enough and how much he trusts capelli. So what what Sam would be looking at is like, if she’s trying to serve justice, in her own story. Does she have to take it to the end of the line? Does she have to risk herself? And as we’ve talked about, sometimes taking it to the end of the line can be counterproductive? Or can she find something can she find a compromise where she’s protecting herself? But serving justice enough? Through covert means and through formulation of trust with people around her?

Tim Grahl  14:31

You know, I think what’s interesting about this that is causing me some struggle is that our single audience member or Sam of this story is different than the protagonist. Right? So I feel like if I feel like in most cases, so Let’s say I’m trying to help somebody with a problem, I would tell a story where the protagonist of the story is in a similar situation than my Sam in front of me. Where if I’m remembering our narrative device correctly, our Sam is a detective. But the story we’re telling has a witness as the protagonist.

Danielle Kiowski  15:30

Okay, well, let’s let’s think about it this way. The before we started recording this, we were talking about fantasy and science fiction a little bit. And we talked about how sometimes you’ll have, you’ll have an allegory that highlights through showing a fantastical thing, maybe like Animal Farm, showing animals, it highlights a universal human pattern. So why would you show why would you talk to tell a story about pigs instead of a story about people?

Tim Grahl  16:10

Well, I think it allows you to by telling stories about pigs instead of people, it puts your reader in a state of mind where they’ll accept things that they wouldn’t normally accept, because we’re talking about pigs and not people.

Danielle Kiowski  16:32

Right. And so, but they’re the same, right, in terms of what they’re doing in terms of the the problems that they’re facing. And that’s what we have here, that same dynamic where, if you talk about if it’s too on the nose here, this is a very dangerous situation, a dangerous context, where someone in power is a perpetrator. And so you have to be a little a little more subtle and a little more covert with how you would present a story to Assam. Who this it’s also Whose side are you on? In the telling of it, right? This young detective, if you say, you know, I was, I tell this, this overt story about how i capelli have come to the realization that our lieutenant is a murderer. There is a good chance that a Sam, who is an A young detective will want to curry favor with a lieutenant as opposed to a detective. And we’ll turn in capelli. And then they stamp out the problem. So in the same way that your SAM might be closed off to something that’s too politically on the nose. And so you might tell that through allegory to get at these universal patterns. Your Sam might be on the wrong side if you’re telling this kind of tricky situation. So the idea is, is hear that in the same way that that pigs are the same as people in the Animal Farm, the detective is the same as the witness. Everyone’s witnessing the injustice going on. Everyone has this witnessing function. And though they might play a different role in terms of the what side of the table they’re sitting on, everyone’s playing the same witnessing role within this context. So your SAM, is the same as your protagonist in all the ways that matter. Just not in the job title that they have. It’s basically saying like as a detective here, you’re going to see some stuff go down and you got to figure out what you’re going to do about it. This guy Struthers saw one thing, and he had the option of leaving. As a young detective, maybe you have the option of leaving? Are you going to take that now? Or are you going to, you know, find your place within the system? This is why it’s a Threshold Guardian, seem to so so that’s where the overlap comes in between our protagonist and Sam.

Tim Grahl  19:16

Okay, so back to summing up the scenes global value change. How are we putting this together as a prescriptive story event.

Danielle Kiowski  19:32

So So I think starting out green is probably easiest. So we have so far we have there’s a greater probability of justice when Struthers and we’re at Green so we can find our way in through very specific things keep silent, right, to ensure the safety of his family, at the expense of as you pointed out, exposure of the criminal and we have swift exposure of the criminal because the criminal may be exposed later. So this is basically playing the long game versus the short game is what’s happening here. So he’s prioritizing the most urgent and the most salient thing to him in the moment over something that is longer term. And basically, that same justice can wait in this particular case. So now what we can do is to work our way into the blue level that we want to get to, we can look at what are the what’s the information processing? And I think you’ve, you’ve started thinking about that in in some of the responses and some of the discussion that we’ve been having. So we’ll start again with there’s a greater probability of justice when and then we want to look at, at what the information processing is, of the protagonist in the climax. And and we want to end in the scene generally, like what are the information processing methods that lead them to the climax? And now we want to move away from specific names. So instead of Struthers, we’re going to use more of a, a roll identity. So how might you define Struthers in in the scene? What would his identity be?

Tim Grahl  21:22

He’s a witness.

Danielle Kiowski  21:25

Yep, that’s what we have. So there’s a greater probability of justice when a witness and then how is he processing? What’s his primary concern in terms of how he’s processing information?

Tim Grahl  21:39

I mean, his primary concern is his own his his own safety.

Danielle Kiowski  21:46

So I would say that’s an instinctive reaction, but it’s not necessarily an information processing.

Tim Grahl  21:53

What do you mean by information processing, then

Danielle Kiowski  21:56

this is about how he is measuring the situation. So we can go back to the essential tactic. And this is a great connection that Leslie made is that we can take our answers from the other from the other levels and use them to hone in on how to do the scene event synthesis at different planes of perception. So how is he measuring what’s going on in the scene? What is his primary focus of measurement?

Tim Grahl  22:26

The trustworthiness of the people around him?

Danielle Kiowski  22:28

Right? Right. Yep. So he’s, he’s measuring who to trust. And then we can also think about this in terms of power. So does he say that he he keeps silent as he does? What happens to his power

Tim Grahl  22:48

to Mr. Struthers power? Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. Because I start thinking, well, his power over being able to tell his story or his power over like his own safety, his power over the action, you know, what he can get capelli to do for him? Like, I don’t know what you mean.

Danielle Kiowski  23:13

Okay, great. Yeah. So. So this is in terms of his ability to thrive in the environment. So does he does he retain his agency? Or does he give up his agency? He retains his agency, he retains his agency? Yeah. Yeah. And so this is like the counterfactual you’re talking about if he, if he accuses the lieutenant, now he’s given up all of his power, and he doesn’t have any more ability to affect his outcome. Now, it’s in the hands of everybody else. So. Okay, so So to summarize, those that we have, there’s a greater probability of justice when a witness things with clarity about who to trust, that’s the measurement to retain leverage, instead of surrendering power. And now the last thing we need to figure out for this run level is the trade off. So what does he give up? In terms of his internal state? What does he give up by keeping silent

Tim Grahl  24:21

in terms of his internal state,

Danielle Kiowski  24:24

so we can move upwards from the green, right. So he gives up the Swift exposure of the criminal? And what does that mean for him?

Tim Grahl  24:36

Well, I mean, is he giving up? Getting justice?

Danielle Kiowski  24:42

I would say justice is more of this ideal that he has. It’s not really about his own processing. Do you think that he would be more or less stable? For example, if if he were able to Tell capelli who the criminal is

Tim Grahl  25:03

more or less stable? What do you mean by that?

Danielle Kiowski  25:06

The internal integrity of his processing? So what I’m thinking about here is we want to look at at the internal state of, of integration of the being like, does it? Does it cause internal conflict? That’s instability? Or does it cause an internal resonance, where what he’s doing doesn’t cause that internal conflict that would be stability, where everything is working together, he has this sort of integrated way of looking at the world and of enacting himself in it, versus does he have a disintegrated way where he has all these different things in play, and he hasn’t been able to resolve them in a satisfactory manner? That would be instability and dissonance.

Tim Grahl  25:58

What would be the ladder, the instability?

Danielle Kiowski  26:01

Okay, right. So that’s what we have, we have at the expense of his internal consonants, meaning that he’s moving into a place of dissonance of fracture of disintegration, because he hasn’t been able to accomplish, what do you set out to do. And the cost of that is his internal peace. So he’s going to leave here, and he’s maybe going to be unstable, he’s going to maybe be insecure about what happened. But you know, he doesn’t give up his agency. So that’s the that’s that red trade off?

Shawn Coyne  26:30

Can I just jump in here with a little metaphor to help ground this for you, Tim. So imagine that you’ve got a problem. And it’s, this is something that you say all the time, Tim, you’ll go, I’ve just solved my number one problem. So now my number one problem is now my second problem. Because you you put aside, after you’ve solved the problem, you don’t worry about it anymore, right. But if you haven’t solved a problem, yet, it sticks with you until you fix it. So it’s that problem that has been unsolved, that causes dissonance in your mind, and it keeps peppering you Oh, my God, I forgot to do that thing. And then you do the thing, and it’s over and you forget about it. So Struthers came in here to dump the responsibility of his witnessing function onto the police department. And, you know, through this, okay, I did my duty, I’m gone. And he wasn’t able to do that. And he had to make a choice. Because being able to do that was more expensive to him than this than the safety of his family. So he had to hold on to that, Oh, my God, I haven’t solved my problem, so that he could safeguard his family. So that’s the trade off your family safe, or you get to solve a problem, which one do you want? And he’s like, I’m going to take my family safety over the problem solving.

Tim Grahl  27:58

And so Daniel, can you can you read off that whole thing to me again,

Danielle Kiowski  28:04

there is a greater probability of justice when a witness thinks with clarity about who to trust to retain leverage, instead of surrendering power, at the expense of his internal consonance

Tim Grahl  28:18

Is this the CIO. So we’re under the story event that sums up the scenes global value change. But is this also the controlling idea of the of the story?

Danielle Kiowski  28:30

Not quite yet. So we’re moving from Green, up to the red, that’s where we are right now. So we were moving. Because what I was picking up from your initial scene, event synthesis is that you were really focused on the green level. So we looked at the the kind of templated version to find the green effects on the value, then we moved up a level to red and then finally we’ll move up a level to blue and that’s going to get us to the controlling idea of our story is like that, where it lives in that blue level. But this is this intermediary level of how the story is functioning at the red level. So this is more about the frames in play in in the story. And we’re talking about, about the same kinds of concepts that are in, for example, Hero’s Journey 2.0, where we’re talking about the red progression of the story.

Tim Grahl  29:21

So as I look at this, I’m just trying to look at this as like the message being sent to Sam from the author. And another so to me, another way to say this would be something like look, there’s times where you’re going to have to carry the weight of like the psychic weight of holding something, because it is this best decision to keep that leverage inside of yourself if you really want to serve justice. Great Okay,

Danielle Kiowski  30:01

cool. So let’s move up to the blue level and get to to that controlling idea. So again, we’ll start with there’s a greater probability of justice. And then we want to look at what are the universal patterns in play in the climax in the tradeoff?

Tim Grahl  30:22

Well, in the climax, right, so the climax portion of what we just said is when a witness thinks with clarity about who to trust to retain leverage. So there’s a greater probability of justice. I think this is about deciding who to trust.

Danielle Kiowski  30:50

Okay, and and how would that play into a universal pattern?

Tim Grahl  30:55

What do you mean by universal pattern?

Danielle Kiowski  30:57

So we’re thinking about, about collective cultural grammar here. So the codes, laws and norms in play and how how the avatar is conforming, or differentiating from the the grammars in play, how they’re conforming to expectations, because that talks about the kind of archetypical role that they’re they’re taking on? It starts to it starts to get at what are the what are the roles that they’re playing in the universal arena? Are they going to be a challenger of the system? Are they going to be a defender of the system? Those kinds of things. So I think that that thinking about the the collective cultural grammar in play, thinking about those systems of expectations that are in play, and how they relate to those is a good way into this realm.

Shawn Coyne  31:55

Let me jump in here on the blue guy. So basically, what, what Daniel just said is absolutely correct. But try and grounded a little bit. Think about what what you’re taught as a little kid, always tell the truth, Tim, if you see somebody doing, if you see something, say something, right? So there’s this collective cultural grammar, we walk around, and that always says, always tell the truth. Always, you know, if you see somebody doing something bad tell on them. Right? And then we also get this other message of snitches get stitches. Right? And so it’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, what am I supposed to do here? It’s a double factor problem. When do I snitch and when do I not snitch? Right. So the collective cultural grammar is giving a lot of paradoxical frames, and it’s very amorphous and strange. And so what wisdom is recognizing these, these bye bye for occasional functions, a pattern behavior, a pattern of behavior is I always tell the truth. I’m a truth teller. Or I always with I am discrete. You can give me it, give me a secret, it goes into the vault, and I’m never selling set telling anyone. So it’s like, Well, which one is better? depends. It depends. So these patterns of behavior, start playing into the values and virtues that our collective cultural grammar is is telling us are important. Truth is super important. We all agree. Courage. That’s it. That’s another virtue. Right? Well, when should I be courageous? Should I just run into traffic and show my courage? No, that’s foolhardy. Right? It’s kind of silly. But if if there’s a bully, who’s, you know, making fun of somebody, Should I step in between them and say, hey, that’s enough. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Unless, right? There’s all these different contextual things that are very difficult to make sense of. And so this is what what stories are so great, is they give us really specific contexts from which to make decisions under very big duress. So Sam is has a problem. She doesn’t know. Should I rat out and, and snitch or do I not snitch? And what our narrator is telling her is, here’s a way to get in between that. Here’s a way to increase the probability of justice and to kick it up to the institutional levels that have more power than just one single person does. So if we do an internal affairs report, and we just show them the facts, just the facts, then it’s now pushed up to a level that’s supposed to be more powerful than just schmoes, like me and you. So, so the blue patterns, patterns are about value. And when you get stuck, it’s like, what do I do to get values on my side? I want to be virtuous? Does that mean I always rat out somebody who steals a piece of candy at the store? Or does that mean I never ran out a person who’s steals a piece of candy at the store? Right? So if it’s a four year old, you go, Hey, little boy, that’s not cool. But if it’s a starving person who’s trying to get a loaf of bread, you might be like, now? I don’t know. This is the point, right? It’s a double factor problem that we need to weigh. And so so this controlling idea at the blue level is about patterns of behavior, that are the means by which we figure out how to get the most virtue. So this is sort of like at the end of an Aesop’s fable. They always say, never, never borrow nor a beggar be you know, that’s a Ben Franklin thing. Neither a borrower or a loner, I forget what he said. But it’s, it’s the sort of, so if you want to think of the blue, it’s often these, these things that you put up on your wall. And they’re these kind of like slogans.

Tim Grahl  36:44

Yeah, they’re the ones that are above you. And when you’re in the dentist’s chair, you know, hang in there. Right, right.

Danielle Kiowski  36:51

So we we know, from what Shawn was saying that there are these two competing collective cultural grammars, one of them says, You always tell the truth. One of them says you never tell on anybody. So in terms of the climax, which one? Which one is actualized in this scene? Which one does he act on?

Tim Grahl  37:12

You don’t tell him? You never tell on people. Right?

Danielle Kiowski  37:17

Right. So in terms of which one he is conforming to? He is he’s conforming to keeping silent the the snitches get stitches. He’s afraid of getting stitches, right. Yeah, but but which one? Which one does he believe in?

Tim Grahl  37:37

He believes in always tell the truth.

Danielle Kiowski  37:42

And so what we want to do is talk about how we can encapsulate that he gets the effect that he wants, through conforming to a different collective cultural grammar, than the one that he believes in. So he differentiates from his own belief system, from his own collective cultural grammar, but still gets this idea. So the the phrase we came up with to encapsulate this is discretion is the better part of valor, which implies that there’s a worst part of valor, which is like showboating or valor as as recognition that this discretion can be valorous. In that it achieves those effects with minimal fallout. And so that’s our, that’s our controlling idea for the scene, there’s a greater probability of justice when discretion is the greater part of valor. And you know, it’s hard to come up with these, it’s, it requires iteration and deep thought about the scene and trying out different things. And we have, we have the benefit of Sean’s decades of story, experience and coming up with these things. And as you learn to do it, if you have one that’s more awkward or more, maybe maybe less specific, less refined, it’s fine to start out there any any way of thinking about these, you can think about it in a coarse way, and then work from there, and then try and work toward things that are more helpful, more useful to really encapsulate the scene and over time, get a better sense of the refinement of this. So yeah, I don’t want anyone to think like, oh, if I don’t read the scene and come up with these specific scene events, synthesis at any of the levels, that I’m wrong, it’s just that what we’re trying to present here is the outcome of the journey toward really understanding the scene and digging into its dynamics and getting a deep understanding of it. And so it’s Seeing these things, and establishing this really refined understanding of it is going to be helpful as we move into the iteration of your version of the scene. Because then you can get to the really the heart of it and look at how to express this in in your own way.

Tim Grahl  40:19

Is this another reason? Why, you know, what strikes me here? Because on the first read of this, I thought this is a great story. You know, but who knows why, you know, the three of you pick this story over any other story to talk about. But it’s such a nuanced, and as you say, like, I would say, the double factor pneus of the controlling idea is that what really, in your eyes pulls this up to the level of a masterwork.

Danielle Kiowski  41:00

I think the double factor pneus of the problem is critical to creating a masterwork you can imagine there are lots of crime stories that are about cleverness. And it’s about how do we how do we look at these clues in the cleverest way possible to solve the puzzle, these are puzzle stories, where it’s about solving, solving the crime, but there is no constraining factor at play. And those can be fun entertainment in the moment, people might like the intellectual challenge of reading along and trying to solve, but they’re not going to stand the test of time. And so it is that it is that resonance with universal patterns, the ability to read closely into the story, and see these see factors at play that influence our own lives and that influence the way we think about the world. That’s what’s going to make it a masterwork. That’s what’s going to keep us coming back to it again and again and make it an effective tool to study and allow us to explore that problem space. And that is the double factness of it.

Tim Grahl  42:13

Because when I think about, like, we have a story grid masterwork analysis guide of the murder of Roger Ackroyd. And when I think about it through this lens, I think about well, what makes it a masterwork. It has a really clever narrative device. Obviously, Agatha Christie does a really good job with the clues and you know, having perot follow all the clues, but what really cinches is at the end, when perot is faced with having to ask himself what he believes justice is, is it turning him in to the police? Or is it letting him commit suicide so that the other avatars in the story, you’re not shamed? And is that in your eyes? What kicks it up to the masterwork level?

Danielle Kiowski  43:09

Yeah, I think there are different levels of crime stories. So we have amateur detective, these are going to be your cozy mysteries, we have police procedurals, and then we have master detective. And along the way, there are different. There are different considerations that can make these really compelling stories. And we’re the realm we’re playing in with poro is the master detective. And I think that when you have when you have a Master Work story in the master detective, sub genre, that you really need to be playing in that what is just a space, because the master detective has reached the pinnacle of their career, they’re at a place where they’ve gone through transformations, they’ve dealt with all of the stuff that they’ve dealt with, at the at the lower levels. And, and they’ve come to a place where they’re a figure that is the the object of admiration, and that they have a high performance. And now what they’re doing is they’re considering the context itself. So these are the stories where, where that what is justice is really what’s in play.

Tim Grahl  44:27

So we just spent the last two weeks going over the event synthesis, right. So we looked at the on the, on the surface of what the avatars are literally doing, we looked at the above the surface of the essential tactics. We looked at the beyond the surface of the value that changed and then we spent a really long time looking at the story event that sums up the scenes global value change. And so spending two hours of our life looking at that, like how does that that help, you know if we’re looking at if I’m looking at this selfishly as the person trying to become a better writer, like how did that help me take steps towards leveling up my writing?

Danielle Kiowski  45:12

Well, I want to go back to something that I said at the at the beginning of setting out to, to answer this or to look at this level is that we’re moving into the green band. And we’re moving into how to execute what we’ve been talking about the other levels on the page. And when we look at execution, we need to be extremely careful, the green level is where you can. You can have inconsistencies that will draw your reader out of the story, you can have word choices that will subvert your meaning and, and make them misinterpret what you’re trying to say. And that’s not to not to make it scary or intimidating. But just to say that, we need a lot of intentionality and a lot of care around anything that happens in the green band. And so it’s very important to spend a lot of time looking at the scene looking at the actual words on the page and understanding the particulars of how you put it on the page. Now, we’ve spent a lot of time in other bands, because they’re, it’s so important to build an effective Foundation. And now that we have spent the time to build an effective foundation and build concepts that that are resonant concepts that are compelling, and that give us a strong author and a strong Sam. Now it’s like we’re building that bridge, I like the bridge metaphor, because it’s the bridge between the author and Sam, that’s what we’re building is what we build on the page. And we talk a lot about the metaphor of building a bridge. As we walk on it, well, the important part of a bridge is that you don’t fall off of it. And so spending so much time on the actual, like, Where does each strike go, this is going to keep your your message solid. And so. So in that way, it’s it’s important to get a lot of a lot of detail and a lot of nuance in the understanding of how others have done it. So that we can start to make our own word choices, and our own choices about how to execute, that are going to give us a high level of clarity of our signal. Practically, it also means that the more refined that we can be about what we’re trying to accomplish, the less rewriting we do. So we talked a little bit throughout the questions about how you can start out understanding these things at a very coarse level. Maybe if you’re just at the very start of your journey and understanding these concepts. You don’t know what the what the global value spectrums are. You haven’t internalized those yet. But you could say, Okay, I know something needs to change that something. And that’s going to make your writing better. But it’s not going to take it all the way to masterwork level. So the further you can get along the refinement of the concepts that we’ve talked about, the further you can get in terms of understanding, understanding how to execute something that’s closer to a masterwork having less rewriting to get to the point where it’s something that is at the edge of your ability that you’re proud of doing. And then just better clear signal to Sam and something that has a better chance of becoming something that your readers really care about.


The Book

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.

First Time Writer

Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.


Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.