Episode 260: 624 Review + Trope and Beat Introduction

Click here to see the full 624 analysis of Ed McBain’s Eye Witness short story.


Danielle Kiowski, Shawn Coyne, Tim Grahl, Leslie Watts

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. My name is Tim Grahl. I’m the host of the podcast and I’m a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me shortly is Shawn Coyne. He’s the creator and founder of story grid with over 30 years of experience. Also with me today is Leslie Watts. She’s the Editor-in-Chief of story grid publishing, and Danielle Kiowski. She is the Chief Academic Officer of story grid University. Now today is a little bit different. We’re basically going to review what we’ve been doing for the past nine weeks with the 624 analysis. And so if at any point in those episodes, you are getting a little lost, you’re now going to be able to hear all of it in one go. So Leslie is going to start us out by walking through the entire 624 analysis for the EYEWITNESS Ed McBain story. If you would like to download a PDF of the full 624 analysis of the short story, you can do that by clicking on the link in the notes in this episode. If you’re watching on YouTube, it’s down in the description as well. If you’re listening, you can go to story grid.com/podcast. So after we do the 624 analysis, we start looking ahead at the next thing we have to look at in order for me to write my iteration of this masterwork scene. So Danielle gives an introduction to tropes. And Shawn gives an introduction to beats in beat analysis. Now, if you’re listening to this episode, instead of watching it on YouTube, this may be one that you want to go to YouTube and watch because Shawn Coyne shares his screen and works through some slides when he’s talking about the beat analysis. So if you go to YouTube, and search for story grid, or again, you can just go to story grid.com/podcast. And there’ll be a link to our channel there as well. This may be one where you want to watch the video if you’re used to just listening to the audio. So with all that said, let’s go ahead and jump in to this episode, I’m going to turn it over to Lesley to get us started.

Leslie Watts  02:15

Okay, so let’s start by reviewing what we’ve gone over the last couple of months. And one of the reasons this is important is that as we go through the levels of analysis in the 624, and then down into tropes and beats the we make discoveries as we go. And so we want to make sure that everything is still aligned, and that we we don’t need to make adjustments in our analysis of the of the Master Work pattern scene. That will be important for for you, Tim, as we as we move into iteration. So the 624 analysis, we’ve got six levels of analysis, 24 questions. And we start with the blue beyond the surface level. And these are the eternal patterns. So the first tool, the governing tool that we went through, was the five genre leaves. And so we looked at the time genre, which is short. And we looked at the structure for the genre, and that’s arc plot. And that’s the transformation of an individual. And then we moved into the style genre. And what we talked about here is that this is a police report, or it’s like journalism. And so we’ve got a drama, a written drama piece. Then we moved into the reality genre, and that’s realism. So that’s like, what we’re talking about there is this could happen. And then from there, we move into the content genre, and we choose the external and internal and then we identify which one is global. So here we have a global crime story, which is the external and then we also have a worldview revelation. So that’s the internal and in the story Struthers has a rather alarming revelation as he’s over the course of the of the story. So that is our five genre Leif analysis. And this is what what we might say the artist so that’s you as the writer Tim, this is what you were you’re kind of getting your ideas for the story organized. To prepare the for the next step, which is the pop. Now when we talked about the pop before we called it the what if but we made an adjustment and realize As we needed to refine this a little bit, and and so now we identify it more clearly as the proposition of possibility. Because although one of the things it does is kind of get the it attracts an audience of a mass audience of readers of the genre, what we really need it to do is be a spec sheet for your author. So we need to govern the problem space of the story, and allow for the author give the author what they need to generate the story. And the author is from that read level that we’ll get to next. So we, when we go through the pop the preposition of possibility, we are looking at the context, which is the whole system setting for the story. And within that, we want to consider the the cool thing here is that all of these tools are building on what we’ve already done. So for the context, you’re going to going to want to consider the reality genre, you’re going to want to consider the conventions of the content genre. And you’re going to want to consider your double factor problem space. So what the what the inciting incident, the problem created by the inciting incident will be this double factor problem. We’ll get into that a little bit more in a moment. But that is, we want to make sure that the conditions for that are included in the context. And so we’re looking at that already. So from realism, we get this criminal justice system, circa 1950. It’s in a big city, we have conventions of a police procedural sub genre of the crime genre, we have this police with a military structure. That’s the type of hierarchy, we have the detectives in the middle, we have the lieutenant overseeing them. So that’s what we have going on in in our pattern story. And the double factor problem space, what the way we make sense of that is that there’s a lot of discretion in the hierarchy. So we have this chaos within this highly ordered system that allows for the possibility of tyranny allows for the possibility of corruption, and that is exactly what Strothers our protagonist is worried about. Okay, so that gives us our, our context. And then we want to look at who is the protagonist. As a reminder, protagonist, the protagonist is Struthers, and he’s the eyewitness. He’s the one who witnessed the murder, and he’s the protagonist. And we want to identify him as we’ve got some different types of protagonists. And one is a fish out of water. And then one is a defender of the pond, there are others but these are kind of the general categories. And we identified Struthers as a fish out of his native water. He’s come into the police department, he’s going to offer evidence to expose the criminal and he must either conform to the norms, laws and codes of that space, that context or differentiate. Okay, so then we look at what’s inciting the protagonist. And here we’re really focusing on the content genre. So from from the five leaves, we drop the content genre down, and that gives us our inciting crime. And what’s happened is that the protagonist has witnessed a murder. So we have that we’ve got that identified. And then from that inciting incident, there’s a problem. And the protagonist has a goal state. And their goal state is Struthers goal state is to inform what he knows about the murderer to relieve the burden of responsibility without endangering his family. So he on you know, he clearly wants to create a report the crime, he needs to keep his family safe, and he has this desire to sign to see justice done. And so from all of that, we came up with this statement that kind of distills all of that down to help us immediately think what’s the story about and we have a question and this is the pop question. So when corruption is endemic in the police depart argument is being a witness worse than being a victim. Okay, so these are our two big macro blue beyond the surface tools that are getting at the eternal patterns that we’re going to want to want you to enact in your story. So Danielle, and Shawn, do you have anything you want to add? Or comments on? Before we move on to the red zone?

Shawn Coyne  10:29

Just just one small addendum? I mean, I think you nailed it. And that’s only like when you mentioned that the five leaves genre Clover is the governor function, the generator function is, is this pop on the other side? And what is it generating? It’s generating mass audience interest. So that’s, that’s the difference. It’s like, you’re sort of theoretically figuring out what kind of story you want to tell. But then you want to really get a pot going. So that when you sit down and go, Hey, I had this idea for this story. And it’s sort of about this, when corruption is endemic in the police department is being a witness worse than being a victim. Hmm, I never really thought about it like that. So that’s a good way to present the pup Are you going to get somebody interested in what you have to tell them by telling them the pop. And so that’s the generator, it’s to generate interest from the group mass of readers who love that particular genre. So that’s the only thing I would add, I think you nailed everything else.

Leslie Watts  11:39

Okay, so again, that’s our blue level, or beyond the surface level. And then we we’ve taken all of our ideas, and we’ve kind of dropped them into the five genre leaves and the pop. And then we use that we’ve got the story encapsulated. And then we’re going to use that to go to the red level, the above the surface level. That’s about information processing and function. And we’re going to figure out, how are we going to tell this story, we’ve got our story, how are we going to tell it? So because stories work like communication, they are in essence communication, we focus on a transmitter who encodes a signal, which is the story and the receiver who decodes the signal. So we have these, these components of communication that translate to the author who is the transmitter encoding the message in the form of the story, we have the story itself, which is the signal, and of course we are, and that comes from the pop. And it illuminates a problem, which is part of that signal. Again, for a single audience member, we call Sam, who has a problem that the story can shed light on. So the there’s an important aspect I want to bring out about this. And it’s that this mechanism of using the story to shed light on Sam’s problem is a way to bake in the story grid ethos, right into your story, because we think that stories ought to perform an enabling function, they should be that which furthers they should increase agency for ourselves and others to help us solve our perennial problems. So while we want stories to be exciting, and entertaining, and intriguing, we also want to provide catharsis for Sam and the reader and enable them to complexify and make the world better to so that by focusing on Sam’s problem, and how our story can illuminate that we’re baking, all of that, and so it’s really, really important, this step is very important. It also of course, provides a relevance filter for all the other decisions that you have to make scene by scene line by line. So it is, as I say, very important. Okay, so the narrative device, we fit, we start with the author, and the author is someone we say you This is someone you’re you’re hiring you as the artist or choosing an author who could tell the story, who has the expertise and who has the that motivation to help Sam. So we identified in eyewitness, a sovereign who’s somebody focusing on similarity and difference, threshold guard Be in detective who’s explaining the system as if in a report. So if you you know, when you look at this the story, it’s very just the facts. And part of that is is about the is about simulating a report, you know, so it’s not exactly like a police report, but it’s got a lot of those qualities and so it kind of has that feel. Okay, so, so we’ve got our Threshold Guardian detective, who’s a sovereign, he’s explaining the system as if in a report. So who’s the audience, the single audience member, Sam, that our detective wants to help? We identified this as a young officer, someone who has information that could bring someone to justice, but they need to get that information in the right hands without causing harm. So they’ve got to create some plausible deniability. So that’s our single audience member that we’re trying to help. And we’re trying to help them by shedding light on the problem, not telling them this is what you must do. That’s nonfiction. When fiction, we want to just illuminate the problem space. So what problem is Sam trying to solve? We looked at the way I talked about that a little bit already. And that’s how do you signal injustice without becoming a target? So that’s the problem that we want to help Sam solve, and this goes back to the problem that Struthers has happened having that we identified in the pop, right, because you’ve got information. But it could be, you know, if you just offer up the information, it could cause more problems than then it solves. Okay, so that’s our first tool within the red zone, the above the surface zone. That’s all about communication. So we have this communication model. And this is what, Shawn, what you were talking about earlier about, this is the governing function within this layer. And so then we move on to the the generator function, and the generator function within this. Within this zone is the point of view. And I like to think about this as this is the macro encoding of the signal we’ve gotten, we’ve gotten a signal from our pop, when we have a model of how that’s going to happen. But now how do you enact that on the page? Well, you need to understand the mode. And you need to understand the tents. And you need to understand the person or the point of view. So the mode we have for this story is showing. And that’s because this is happening in a report, there’s not a lot of explanation. And if you think about it, you can see how this makes sense, because we’re signaling a problem without tipping our hands, right. And so we want to show the problem and then someone else is going to have to do the analysis to figure out what it means. It’s in past tense, which also makes sense for a report. And we have a first person narration because we have detective capelli we have our detective writing out the report. But what’s interesting is that it has the assets it has some aspects of a third person narration because capelli is not the protagonist. So capelli is an observer, which is a nice, a nice kind of reflection of what’s happening in the story. Anyway capelli is observing Struthers and from that he is able to narrate. Okay, so that is our read. above the surface level we’ve got commute the overall model of communication with the author, single audience member and problem and then we’ve got our the how we iterate it that macro encoding of the signal that we are doing through showing in the recent past through a first person narrator. So moving on from the red level, we moved to the green level. So we’ve stopped and now we’re going green is the on the surface level. This is the organization of story and these are the parts of the hole that we enact the pattern the blue beyond the surface patterns, and that perform the function of the red above the SIR surface level. So we start with that event synthesis analysis, which has a lot of SS in his little hard to say. But basically, this is what the scene, what is the scene doing. That’s our analysis. And if we’re talking about because we are talking about iterating, the scene pattern, we want to know, what do we need this scene to do. And that’s what this analysis is really helping us do. So we have, we obviously have a short story that is a scene here. But we want to keep in mind that when we’re doing a larger master work, we’re we’re looking at how each scene is integration, or the process of metabolizing. One aspect of the whole global problem that the author is dramatizing to shed light on Sam’s problem. So we have four questions that go with this. The first is what are the avatars literally doing? And this is the on the surface of the on the surface? So what are we observing the avatars doing and saying, so we have in eyewitness, we have Struthers who’s reporting on a crime that he witnessed to the local police department. And on the other hand, or you know, opposing him, so to speak, we have detective capelli. And he is interviewing a potential witness to a murderer. So that’s what we’re seeing happen on the page. Now, we also want to understand the essential tactics of these avatars, the primary avatars who are acting in the scene, this helps us get at conflict, but it helps us get at motivation. And the cool thing about it is when we understand what they’re doing, we’re doing analysis, we see what they’re doing and saying, then we can think about why might they be doing this? What are they trying to achieve? And that’s exactly what we’re getting at with essential tactics. So Struthers in this scene is measuring the trustworthiness of the detectives, he wants to know, right? Because remember, his problem is, how do I get this information in the right hands without harming my family. And so he’s got to be measuring the trustworthiness evaluating everybody who comes in contact with now capelli he’s trying to get Struthers on his side, he wants him to give up the information, because that will help him solve the crime. And so what’s interesting is that he is also going through this evaluation process to met measure, is this character who’s come into the into the police station? Is he telling the truth? Does he have something to offer? How can I use this? So we have these two characters, avatars, who are they’re opposed to one another, but they ultimately both have the same goal. And that is to see justice done. So then, so we’ve got the what’s literally happening, and the essential tactics, what they’re trying to enact. And then we go to the third question, which is about the universal human value that’s changed for one or more of the avatars in the scene. And so what we want to see is what’s happened as a result of these characters acting out their essential tactics in the through the on their on the surface actions, and the scene moves from possible justice, to probable justice. So it’s a positive movement. But it’s a little complicated, as we’ll see, as we move forward, because we have to take into account the whole, obviously, the whole scene, and the the action of Struthers doesn’t immediately suggest that justice will be judged that justice has been served by his actions of running out. Okay, then we boil all this down into a a story event or scene events synthesis, that that encapsulates all the things that are happening in this scene analysis. And what we came up with is that there’s a greater probability of justice, when Struthers keep silent to ensure the safety of his family at the expense of Swift exposure of the criminal. Okay, so that is our this is our generator function. of the first the first band of on the surface level. So this is helping us figure out what do we need to enact in this scene. And then we move into the generator function of this band of the green level, which are the five commandments. And this is how we enact or dramatize the story event. So, these are the five commandments, you’re probably familiar with good old friends. And the we want to know, first, what is the inciting incident? And is it causal or coincidental. And so here we have a causal wave, inciting incident. And what this means is that there’s a particle that comes in, and it actually that particle hits the lieutenant’s wife. So Mrs. Anderson gets murdered by the criminal. But Struthers is a witness to that event. And so it affects him too. He’s not the target, but he gets affected nonetheless, by this witnessing function. So when that happens, Struthers has to do something, right. And this is where his goal comes from, that we talked about before. And then we move. He’s trying to figure that out, right? Like he’s in that he’s doing the, his doing his on the surface actions, because of his essential tactics, what he wants to realize. And then something happens that shifts the value, and that is our turning point, progressive complication. And this can be active or revelatory. And what we have here actually, is a revelatory wave. The lieutenant comes in and Struthers hears him, and then sees him and identifies him. But he doesn’t identify him specifically, right? He doesn’t say, oh, my gosh, that’s the killer. He says, Well, we’ll get to what he says. Okay, so when that happens, that shifts the value, right, that brings the real crisis that was presented by that inciting incident, do I speak up or not? It brings it to a head, he has to decide now he can’t wait. And that brings us to the crisis, which is a best bad choice, or an irreconcilable goods choice. Now his choices are to keep silent, or to speak up and expose the lieutenant. And we, we talked about the crisis matrix when we went through this and I urge you if you to go back and really listen to that closely, because it’s so so good. And really lays out all of the the consequences, the stakes, the the considerations of this crisis, that really make this a wonderful, wonderful story. So we have that crisis, keep silent or expose the lieutenant. And then Struthers has to decide. And he enacts his choice. In the climax. He’s like, I’m out of here. I’ve changed my mind. I can’t do it. I have to go. And he runs out. So that’s the action he takes. And then in the resolution, we get the response from the arena. And this is what’s really cool about this story, and very subtle is that we have this interesting exchange between Lieutenant Anderson and, and capelli. Where he’s like, What the hell got into him all of a sudden, right? What hap what just happened there? And Lieutenant Anderson is like, I don’t know. But capelli is mind gets grinding at that point. He’s like, wait a minute, what did we what happened there? And of course, this has reframed his whole understanding of things. And we actually get there’s a really cool tweak that Ed McBain made and that’s to put the actual resin resolution as the first line in the story. He had seen a murder. It’s brilliant. It’s a wonderful way to deliver this, this big moment and forced the reader to go back to the top and reread the story again and really make sense of it. Okay, so do you have anything Shawn and Danielle to add to this green on the surface level for eyewitness

Shawn Coyne  29:57

I just No, not really, I think That was a masterful representation of what 624 can do for you. So you have gov functions and generator functions, that on three levels of planes of perception, and our six tools, and then the 24 questions to run through them give you a very comprehensive understanding of the intentions of the author, and how they executed it. So I think that was really, really cool. So how do we take this comprehensive understanding of the story from 624, and operationalize it in a way that is very effective for the writer, so that they have very grounded things that they can hold on to. And so what I’d like to do is turn it over now to Danielle, because she’s, she’s really worked this, this meaty area very, very well. And her concept of the trope and her ways of iterating tropes are going to be very, very helpful. So I’m going to turn it over to Danielle now.

Danielle Kiowski  31:01

Thanks, John. tropes are an area that I’m really excited about. So really looking forward to talking about this today and then getting into it in future episodes. What’s a trope? Well, I think the first thing that we need to address is that the concept of trope exists outside of story grid. And so we may have people who come in and think about tropes in a particular way. And so I want to address why we call the things that we’re going to be talking about tropes, and how that relates to the broader concept of trope. So outside of story grid, a trope is anything that will fulfill reader expectations in a certain type of story. So you can get lists of these on the internet, or you can say, you know, love story tropes, you’ll have a whole bunch of crime story tropes, you’ll have a whole bunch. And they are common elements that you may find in that type of story. So what’s the problem? Well, when a writer goes to a list of tropes, what they’re actually trying to do is find out what are the components that I can use to satisfy my readers expectations? How can I sort of plug a story together and make one that will work, make one that has these common elements, but also make it my own. And the problem is, that these lists of tropes don’t help you do that effectively. The reason is that they are all over the shop in terms of the level of analysis at which they function. So you may have a global story level of trope where it’s, it’s a description of the entire story arc, you may have seen level one where it’s, you know, the first kiss or something like that in the lovers scene or the discovery of the body. And then you may have something at a very small level, like a particular kind of metaphor, or a particular literary device that you might use when actually writing the line by line. So if you get these lists of tropes, as I said, they’re all over. And it’s not clear which ones can work together and which ones can’t, they don’t have categories. They’re just lists of things at different levels of analysis. So what we do at story grid is we say, let’s take the functionality, the ideal functionality, and not the one that it fails to deliver on, but the ideal functionality of what writers are looking for in tropes and actually create something that fulfills that role in story analysis. So it’s not that we don’t have the other levels of analysis. Of course we do. And we’ve talked about them already. So if you have something that describes the overarching arc of a story, and that’s a trope that’s going to be present in your blue five leaves of genre analysis, if you have something that is maybe at the scene level, we have obligatory moments, which we have a lot of material on it story grid that you can go and you can learn about how to enact those obligatory moment scenes, but what we call tropes are really where we start putting words on the page. And so that’s why we think this particular level of analysis is particularly good for fulfilling the function that writers want to get out of tropes. And that is writing a story that works, writing a story that fulfills reader expectations and keeps readers engaged in the story. So I like to think about tropes as the bridge between macro analysis, which is everything that we went over, up until this point, and micro analysis which is that’s the actual level of of words on the page, which we’re going to talk about a little bit later. So this bridge is really great. It creates the space where a trope is small enough that you can hold it in your mind and execute it effectively. But it’s big enough that it has some of the the macro movements reflected in it. It has As the, it has the function of laddering up to the scene, and then of course, to the global story. So it has both these micro and macro components. So it’s a great space for being able to chunk the story down and think about it in an effective way. Now a trope is then it has sort of dual definitions. And so I’m introducing the concept of trope, and we’ll talk about what those are. But we’ve only gone through one side. So we have the macro side, the bridge and the microsite. And we’ll need to go through both sides before we can actually determine what tropes are. But we want to give a preview of what tropes are so that we can have a goal in mind as we go through the rest of the analysis for coming back to the middle, and creating this sweet spot, almost like a recipe card for the scene of how to iterate these trips. So to to really delineate what a trope is, you can start looking at it top down. So we have the goal state that we talked about in the pop and that is the want need and desire of the protagonist as Leslie went through. And then we move down into the essential tactic at the scene level, which we also talked about, and this is how the, how the protagonist and other avatars are attempting to achieve their wants, needs and desires at the same level, it’s very green, it’s very on the surface. And it’s, it’s well it’s the red part of the green as we went through, but it is the the actual manifestation of how they’re moving toward that goal state. So we have a central tactic. But that’s not the bottom. So if you say in a scene, I’m trying to get someone on my side, that can have a lot of manifestations. And so what we do is we go one more level down. And we think what are all of the ways that someone could get someone on their site, we divide it up, maybe they just ask them, that’s great. Maybe they try to bribe them, maybe they try to find a common identity, maybe they threaten them there all of these different things that they could do. Of course, what they actually do will depend on their own internal character. And on the the rules governing the context. And so all of that will work to find that, that intersection. But these different ways of enacting the essential tactic we call micro strategies. And a trope is a chunk of story, or sequence of beats, and we’re going to talk about beats until in a minute. And those beats present a consistent micro strategy. So when we’re looking at tropes, we’ll look about we’ll look at the micro strategies that the protagonist is implementing, in order to try to achieve their essential tactic, we’ll look at the order in which they try to use these micro strategies to find out about how they prioritize different stakes, different risks and different modes of action. And we’ll also look at what the what the shifts are from the beginning to the end of the trope because they do have those macro components of value shift. And so that’s going to be at the macro level, how we look at a trip. Now, we’re also going to go and do the other half of the analysis. And once we do that, we’re going to work bottom up to see what the actual contents of that trope are. So what’s its organization? What kinds of beats is it made up of all of these kinds of things? And that’s going to give us some more information about the trope. So we’re going to be able to talk about what are the essential features of the trope? What are the actual beats that you need in this trope, and what function are they fulfilling for the narrative. And we’re also going to be able to see why the protagonist would give up on this trope. So whether the micro strategy fails, or whether it succeeds, and it’s not quite what they expected, we’ll be able to see why they would switch off of that micro strategy and onto another one. So this is why we need not only what we’ve done so far, but also what we’re going to do in the future so that we can meet back here in the middle and come up with a list of tropes along with their essential features and the beginnings and endings of those tropes to really direct you, Tim to iterate the scene in a successful way. And so, to start out with the second half of the, the analysis, we need to start understanding what are beats even, these are the smallest units of story where we’re going to get words actually on the page. And so I’m going to turn it over to Shawn to talk about what beats are and how we would start to understand them.

Shawn Coyne  39:52

Great, thank you so much, Danielle. This is the beats are really good. Amazing concepts because they, they they’re really about energy and excitement. And so how do you energize your audience and, and the way we’re going to look at this is is, is similar to the way of when Leslie describe the communications theory, when you have sort of the author as the transmitter, the encoder of a signal sending a signal across, you know, a divide, and then you have the single audience member as the decoder. So what you have there is a transfer of signal from one place to another. And this is a good concept to think of in terms of our beats too, because what we have in beats are what we call inputs and outputs. So, it’s more of a cybernetic theory than it is communication theory. But communications theory is built on cybernetics. So this is gonna get a little egg heady. So everybody, Hang Hang on here. And so that’s why I wanted Danielle to really talk about this beautiful middle space, where you can really grab a hold of the concept without having to overwhelm yourself with cybernetic theory. But it is important to get the generality of how beats work, and about the story grid theoretical construction of of how we actually make our grids. Right. So it’s called Story grid. So we create grids based upon mathematical representations of story. So this is the core, the very bottom of story grid. So without further ado, I’m just going to plunge in here, and riff through the three kinds of beats that we have and how I constructed them from the ground up. Okay, so let me talk about beats here. So what what are beats? Well, these are the things that are on the surface, literally on the page. Okay, so we can we can pull inputs and outputs from beats from analyzing the actual words on the page. So that this is as as objective as you possibly could get analyzing a story because we’re literally analyzing the words on the page. So I can’t emphasize that more than we are. We’re actually evaluating words on the page. There is no subjective sort of interpretation. It’s very, very specifically scientifically looking at the words on the page. Okay, cool. So what what does that mean? Well, okay, we have two kinds of of beats, right? We have active build up beats, and we have reactive breakdown beats. There’s a third kind, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Now, generally, we have two sort of energy spin possibilities, right? So the way to look at this is having an interaction with a person. So let’s say you meet somebody on the street for the very first time, and you don’t want to talk to them. Or let’s say you do want to talk to them. So you reach out your hand, you shake their hand, you go, Hi, I’m Sean. And they go, Oh, Hi, I’m Bill. That would be a build up of a relationship. So you’re both opening yourselves up into having an interaction so that you can have additional interactions. Right. So that would be a build up? And the next question would be, so where are you from Bill? Oh, I’m from Schenectady. Where are you from Sean. And that would be a second build up on that relationship. So the relationship is being getting stronger. The longer you have build up interactions. Okay, cool. Well, what about breakdowns? Well, breakdowns would be something like, Hi, I’m Shawn, oh, sorry, I don’t have time to talk. Goodbye. That would be a breakdown bait, right? Because some person would be wanting to build something up and another person would want to be breaking down, they would want to leave that interaction. So think of them like little strands from a spider build up is sort of like throwing out a strand of spider web to the other person. And then if they throw one back, then your relationship is getting stronger. But if they take out a knife and cut the the strands, they’re having a breakdown, right? So they’re they’re hurting the relationship when they break down. It doesn’t mean that breaking down is bad. So it’s also important to keep in mind that you’ve got to be careful about putting positivity or negativity, good, bad or moral judgments on buildups or breakdowns. These are very, very technically scientifically described. So build up is an addition and break down is a cutting off. Alright, so we have two energy spin possibilities. So an input could have one of these two spins, right, you could have an active build up input. Hi, I’m Shawn, or you could have a reactive breakdown input, hey, I don’t have time. Okay, so that would be two kinds of inputs. Outputs are the same, right, you could have an out active build up output. And so an output is is is a reaction to the stimulus from an input. So it’s the response to the stimulus of the input. So an output is very much in reaction to the the stimulus coming forward. So you could have an active build up output. Hi, I’m Bill, okay. Or you could have a reactive breakdown book, output, no, sorry, I don’t have time. So those are the two energy spin possibilities. So let’s just go to the next one. So that means that there are four combinations of input and output to form a beat. So a beat has to have an input and an output. There is an exception, but we’ll talk about that later. So generally, a generalized rule is that a beat has both an input and an output. Okay, so there are four combinations of input and output combination, one would be an active build up input and an active build up output two greens. Combination two would be inactive, build up input and a reactive breakdown output. Combination three would be a reactive breakdown, input, an inactive build up output, combination four would be a reactive breakdown input and a reactive breakdown output. So those four combinations are going to be our sum total of these interactive beats. Now, here’s the here’s the tricky part, the output determines the classification. So it’s sort of like genes, right? So genes have dominant genes and recessive genes. So the output is the dominant gene. So if the output is build up, it’s an active build up beat. If the output is break down, then it’s a reactive breakdown beat. So this is again, these are technicalities, but they’re very important to track in order to be able to iterate your story properly. So let’s just move on and talk more about the classification of these four combinations of these two types of beats, right? So we have active build up beats are combinations, one and three. And reactive breakdown beats are combinations, two and four. This is important because knowing this is creating variation. So these are sort of like notes on a on a piano. And knowing how to play each of these notes is very important, because each of these notes has different kind of energy transfer to your single audience member. Now, nobody is reading a story and going oh, that’s that energy transfer really stimulated my imagination. No, that’s not that’s not the way it works. But what what you do do is feel things you have emotional responses to the words on the page. And those emotional responses are indications of energy transfer, from the medium into your mind. So that’s what we’re doing here with these beats is we’re figuring out how are we tweaking those emotions using the techniques of grammar and syntax and all the other stuff? Alright, so we have four combinations with two types of baits. And those are what they are. Now, let’s take a closer look at active build up inputs and outputs. So we’re going to look at active build out inputs and outputs specifically. Cool. Okay, so active buildups inputs and outputs, they can occur in three time signatures, three time signatures. The first is a sort of a real time build up. It’s a point in time. It’s, if we were to take a photograph of a specific interaction, and we were to show it to somebody, they would say, oh, that’s when I met Bill. That was good. That was a good build up, right? So that would be a point in time, real time. And usually the way a story executes point in time real time is through dialogue. Okay, cool. The second one is called durational. Time build up. Now durational time build up is about a collapse of time. So if I want to explain to you that I made breakfast, but I had to go to the store first. I just collapsed a whole bunch of time there when I made that statement, right? Because I said I’m ate breakfast after I went to the store, that that took a long time. And it only took me you know, one sentence to explain that to you. So that would be durational time build up. So that it’s it’s exploring and extending an interaction and a relationship. In this case, the breakfast thing is my interaction with the world as opposed to another being. Lastly, we have eternal time buildups and eternal time buildups are really really interesting because they, they are sort of the sum total of an archetypical representation of a particular time period. I was once a child, now I’m a man. So the idea of being a man or a child is an eternal concept that’s argued, typically represented in in through time, and it does not have a specificity of a of a particular context. You can see how this can get pretty wonky pretty quickly. But I’m only introducing these points so that our audience and Tim understand that, you know, we’re building on these from from the ground up. And these are, these are reified in deep, deep investigation of science, cognitive science, philosophy, etc. Alright, so let’s make it even more complicated. Each of these three have subtypes. So let’s take a look at the the real time active build up and its subtypes. So we can have a build up of input or output in nonverbal communication, I waved to you, hi, that would be a build up input, you wave back, that would be a build up output that is nonverbal. Right? It’s the potential of us actually having an interaction. It’s sort of like, Hey, you interested in talking? Yeah. Come on over. Okay, cool. So that would be the first type. The second type would be a verbal communication. Hi. Hi. So that’s possibility. What do you think about this? Oh, I don’t know. So you’re, you’re exploring an interaction with another person, and you’re building it up to increase the possibility of perhaps engaging in a, in a more deeper relationship. And so lastly, is contact communication. And this is actuality, where you actually shake each other’s hand. So it moves from a wave, a nonverbal communication to a verbal communication to an actual gripping of a hand. So we go through these stages, to test how, how trustworthy the other person is, before we continue the relationship. So that’s a really good example of real time build up interactions and outputs, build up inputs and outputs. Alright, let’s go to durational. So durational buildup has three, three subtypes to theirs present, past and future. So I could give you a present collapse of active buildup, I’m going to the sink, and as I go to the sink, my nose begins to run, that would be some sort of collapse of the present action, I am going to the sink, he goes to this like a past collapse, which would be a reflection on a past memory. So I am collapsing a whole series of events into a single unit from my past, as a build up. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. You know, when I was a kid, I once broke my arm riding my bike. That would be a past collapse, active build up to build up a relationship. And lastly, we have future collapse, active build up and this would be like, hey, what do you think about maybe going to the woods next Thursday. So we can collapse the future into a simulation of possibility and use that as an active build up input to and output. Let’s go to the three degrees of eternal build up. All right, so an individual avatar build up would be like a particular trait. Right? Something that they have a particular way in which a particular trait is community headed to the world. So this goes to Trait Theory and psychology. So if someone is cranky most of the time, that would sort of be in it this description of their disposition, how are they disposed to behave into the world as an individual, it’s kind of cranky on Thursdays, don’t talk to him before he’s had his coffee or something like that, right. And these can be active buildups and breakdown inputs and outputs to Dunbar group build up, this would be a description of, of how a particular unit of people a tribe behaves. Right. So people in story grid are usually pretty egg heavy. I don’t know, I just made that up. But that would be sort of a description of a totality of a tribal behavior. And lastly, you have mass group build up and this would be sort of like a nationalistic, your Ristic a generalization. Americans are patriotic, something like that. So these these eternal build up inputs and outputs are means in which we can generalize about the patterns of behavior of avatars, individual avatars, tribal groups, and mass masses of people such that we can build up and communicate with other people. So that we can we can form form trusts. Okay. Now let’s take a look at reactive breakdown inputs and outputs. Okay, we have three times signatures for these two. So we have the first time signature is it’s consistent with real time, and this is a freeze breakdown. And this comes from our response to novelty. So this is sort of the fear response. And we go through three stages of fear. And they each have a specific time signature. So the first thing we do, let’s say we’re walking in the woods, and we hear something strange and it’s dark out at night, what do we do we we stop in our tracks. I’ve never heard that before. And you freeze. And it’s a, it’s an evolutionary amazing thing that we share with mammals and other primates. So it’s the very first response that your your neuro chorea your cortical system is going to generate for you. So that would be a freeze breakdown. What don’t know what to do, right. So this is a moment of don’t know what to do. The second kind is flight breakdown. And flight breakdown is right after freeze after you freezed and nothing comes to you, then you want to get away, you want to buy some time in order to build up some options in your mind, such that you can deal with the thing that you don’t know about. So you want to buy some time. So you can build out a bunch of choice portfolios, things that you could do in order to metabolize this new information, this this input or output. Lastly, you have the fight response. So when you’re cornered, and you’ve already frozen, and you’ve already run away from it as long as you possibly can now is the time that you fight it, now’s the time that you iterate. Now’s the time that you push back. So those are the three time signatures and again, these have subtypes. So let’s start with the freeze breakdown. Now we can freeze based upon three different kinds of inputs. Pure novelty, something we’ve never seen before. That’s a big, big one. Right? That’s, that’s a that’s a very high one on the energy input system. The second one is faux novelty. And what that means is that we’ve seen this thing before, but it it’s acting in an unexpected way. I can’t believe Marcy said that that’s not like her at all, something like that. And lastly, you have superseding novelty. So that means that you’re dealing with one novelty and all of a sudden, even more, bigger piece of novelty comes at you and you’ve got to put that novelty away to deal with the bigger novelty. Right. So those are freeze breakdown. subtypes. Let’s go to the flight breakdown subtypes. So when you’re trying to build out some time in order to figure out a way to deal with this novelty you have three general things that you can do. One is you can change the topic. So if somebody gives you an input and you don’t know Oh, like. So what are you going to do? You know, what is it that Heidegger said back in? Blah, blah, blah? And you would say, oh, Heidegger, I’m you know, I was really thinking more of Plato. So you would change the topic because you’ve you forgot, or you don’t remember what Heidegger said about something. But you do remember Plato, so you change the topic, in order to build out time to think about how you’re going to deal with that Heidegger problem. So changing the topic is one, the second one is the question. And that’s to sort of disrupt the input with with a counterfactual. So if someone says, you know, the, somebody said something unexpected to you, you would question it by by saying, is that really true? Or are you making that up. And so that makes them go through a justification narrative, in order to justify their statement to you. And while they’re going through their justification argument system, you can build out a portfolio of how you might react to that thing after they’ve gone. So it’s buying time by questioning. So without having to deal with the input, you just make them continue to input more of the same input as much as you possibly can, so that you can just delay having to deal with that input. And lastly, you can discount it. Right? You could, you could just say, Oh, that’s not true. I don’t believe you, or other people have said other things that and so to discount would be sort of attacking the bond of fetus of, of the input or, okay, let’s go to the third one. The third one are the fight breakdowns. Now, these are the ones that we all kind of can immediately recognize, right? So the first one is we back down, right, so if the input is novel, or unexpected, and we just know, it’s a good idea to just, you know, give in, so we can back down. And someone says on something unexpected or something novel, you go, Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just walking here, I’ll be gone in a minute. So that’s, that is a fight response, because you’re backing down in order to escape the, the negative feeling of the novelty, and you’re backing down so you can move on to fight another day. So that in that case, you’re you’re basically sacrificing your your mind agency, because it’s, it’s hurting your power system. Because if you have to back down all the time, you’re not very powerful. And you really get most of your power from your mind. It’s an ATS above the surface kind of information processing system. The second kind is a lash out, right. And so this is all about your ego. This is about you kind of sacrifice your your physicality, because when you lash out, there’s threat of physical harm to you, so your body can get hurt. And so your body is the representation of your being in the external world. And so your ego is constantly managing how you’re being perceived in the external world. So when you lash out, you can you can get damaged by that representation in the external world. Lastly, is ratting out. And so ratting out is is you’re sacrificing you’re saying it wasn’t me it was that guy over there. So you’re ratting somebody else out and you’re pushing away the the novelty or the unexpected behavior on another person. And this actually hurts your your soul, right? It hurts, it hurts the way you feel about yourself. Because you’re not behaving courageously. You’re you’re acting cowardly and you’re passing the buck. You don’t want to take responsibility. So these are our reactive breakdown inputs and outputs at these three levels for the fight breakdown. Okay, so I’m going to go through this one last. This one last category of beats. And this is a really tricky one. This is sort of the blue level. This is what we call binding beats. And what the binding beats do is they they glue active build up and reactive break down beats into discontinuous coherence, which is a very strange phrase, but trust me it makes sense when we are moving through our our lives ivz it feels as if it’s continuous, you know, Saturday becomes Sunday, Sunday becomes Monday, et cetera. But that’s not how we remember. And we we navigate the world, we navigate our world through a narrative in our minds. And it’s discontinuous, right? We don’t remember every second of our day, we break it up, we break it up, and we throw out the parts that aren’t worth remembering. And so it’s a discontinuous, it’s not a continuous narrative. It’s a discontinuous series of relevant moments in our lives that were meaningful to us. And that what we do is we glue all those things together into a coherent sense of ourself. And how we navigate the world is in this discontinuous coherent manner, that that is generates a worldview, from which we we see the world. Alright, so the binding beats, which are sort of the this blue meta stage are, are the work of the author. And this is when the author is talking directly to Sam. Three kinds. We’ve got worldbuilding, cameras shifting and transition baits. So these are the tools that the author uses when the author wants to talk directly to Sam, to give Sam information directly, instead of having Sam look at and experience the avatar movement, on the page in the story. So this is when the author is talking directly to Sam. They they create world building beats, camera shifting beats and transition beats. world building is about establishing the context of the story, the content of the story, meaning who’s in there, what are the what are the objects and subjects and the weather patterns, all that stuff. And that means that there are objective laws, subjective norms, transactive code patterns, both physical and metaphysical. You don’t need to know all of this right now. But this is the substance of a salience landscape of a particular alternate world. So world building is creating the alternate world of the story. Camera shifting is about shifting the frame of the single audience member. So all that means is Sam is going to look at the world through through the lens of some of a particular character’s eyes a particular avatar, TARS eyes, right. So the protagonist is the majority through which Sam will see the world. But you can switch out the the lens by playing camera shifting using camera shifting beats, to get Sam to see the world through another point of view, another avatars point of view. And lastly, there are transition beats, which move Sam’s understanding of the story from what’s going on the surface to how the avatars are thinking above the surface. And lastly, what the author herself thinks about this whole thing that she’s been talking about. So these are the three kinds of binding beads that are general the general properties of narration. Whereas the active build up beads, and the reactive breakdown baits are the tools on the surface for the interactions between the avatars. So I think I’m going to stop right there, because I’m sure everyone who’s taking this in is, is getting a little bit confused. But the reason why I’m doing this is to show that there is real substance, and there’s real meat and potatoes at the bottom of story grid that that enables us to objectively evaluate narration and storytelling, and to be able to generate our graphs, which in turn enable us to make recommendations about how to write things properly, such that the signal is being able to be picked up by the single Audience Member without her having to do inordinate amount of work. So I think I’ll leave it at that. And I think the next stage, Tim, is that we can we can work on building out the tropes for eyewitness and I think we’ll share those tropes with you. We’ll work with you to build them out. And then once you have your trope list together, then you’re going to have a map because you’ve already cropped your 624 when you get your tropes, then you can start iterating aiming at the beat by beat level with these mini mileposts instead of those, those big five ones. So we’re breaking the problem of five into a much easier to solve series of actions than trying to do the five commandments without really knowing much about tropes or beats.


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.