Episode 263: Beat Breakdown – Analyzing Writing Line-by-Line – Part 3

View the full beat analysis and Story Grid graph.


Danielle Kiowski, Shawn Coyne, Tim Grahl, Leslie Watts

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Story Grid podcast. My name is Tim Grahl and I am 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. And he’s an editor with over 30 years of experience. Also joining me is Danielle Kiowski. She’s the Chief Academic Officer of Story Grid universe. And Leslie Watts, the Editor-in-Chief of Story Grid Publishing. In this episode, we continue going through beats, but we kind of skip ahead, show you what it looks like if you go through all the beats in Ed McBain Eye Witness. And then we show you the graphs that come out of doing all of this beat analysis and talk about why this is so important and how it can help you as a writer. So it’s a really good episode, it’s a really great way to cap off this three part episode, going beat by beat through eyewitness. And so let’s go ahead and jump in and get started.

Shawn Coyne  01:00

Great. Thanks, Tim. So what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks is is a really turning a fine eye toward beats. And the reason why we’re doing that is we want to be able to really be able to identify the words on the page that are generating energy to keep our to hold our interest as readers. So we have a name for that person that we generically call Sam, and that’s a single audience member. So we want to be able to evaluate how much energy is being transmitted to Sam, as she’s reading the story. So the beats is the place to learn what specific amount of energy is being transmitted. And the way we do that is through the analysis of beat work, which we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. So we’ve only been able to really explore the concept of enlivening or depleting for a particular beat. So, Danielle, if you don’t mind, could you pull up the, the beats that we’ve done with Tim and then we’ll, we’ll show the final version of it, because you know, if we went through every beat, we’d be here until Thursday. So okay, so here’s the here’s this, the story. And as you can see, what we’ve done is talked about the specificity of what kind of beat it is. And then we’ve determined whether it was enlivening or depleting. So we have inputs and outputs. So beats as you know, can be there. They’re mostly input plus output. But occasionally we have beats that are only input. And those are called binding beats certain kinds of binding beats. So we have active build up beats, and we have reactive breakdown beats, and we’ve determined which exactly those are in the first chunk of eyewitness. Now, if you don’t mind, Daniel, if you could scroll down, and we’ll just show slowly, but succinctly, the audience of what the work that we’ve done since that time, so we went through the entire story. And we broken down all of the beats in the story. And I think there are about 34 of them, which is pretty impressive, because this is a short story that I think is less than 2000 words. So they’re 34 separate energy transfers, that moved from the author to our single audience member. And our author in this case is Detective capelli. And Detective capelli is telling a story to our single audience member who is we’ve identified as sort of a rookie in the in the police force who’s facing a problem. And so detective capelli is showing how things work here in the in the police department, and how we’re able to further the possibility of justice being served. Right. So that’s the entire story. And we’ve got 34 beats now. What I’m going to show you now is what we call the story grid beat map for eyewitness by Ed McBain. And this is something that Daniel and Lesley and I have constructed based upon, believe it or not seven or eight other orders of magnitude that we couldn’t go over here on the podcast, because we you know, again, this would take us the entire year. And this is something that we teach in the story grid guild. So if you want to learn how to construct and to be able to delineate the exact energy for every beat, I suggest, you know, checking out the story grid guild, but here is the beat map. And let me give you a little bit of an explanation of what you’re you’re looking at here. I think generically, if you just take a look at this, you can see that this is a story that moves, right? It has a lot of ups and downs, it has a lot of interesting things happening to it. Again, what we’re what we’re evaluating here is the energy transfer from the author to Sam. So let’s go over each of these lines. And I’ll tell you what each of the mean. So the first line that I want to talk about is the green line. And that’s what we call the on the surface input number. So all of the inputs that are in our beat map, we have the green line representing the amount of energy that is being transferred to Sam. So that green line, as you can see, is usually being represented by an input from detective capelli to our protagonist Struthers. Now, at the beginning of the scene, Detective capelli plays the plays the protagonist, but if you look at the meaty middle, and the very end, you will see that detective Capello’s green line is pretty stable, right? He’s a very, very succinct smart detective, who is generally giving serious amounts of energy, but very, very, he’s he’s, he’s very, very consistent. Now let’s take a look at the red line. The red line is the output of the protagonist of the particular beat. So the input is the green and the red line is the output. And that’s the amount of energy that the protagonist is sending back to the force of antagonism or the green line, right? So the red line represents the reaction to the green input. So you see the red line is got a lot of choppiness into it, you know, especially at particular moments in the story. And that’s very important, because that represents the moments when the protagonist is facing a lot of stress. It’s almost like an EKG or like a, an EKG. Exactly. So it’s like, a lot or a lie detector test. Right. So that’s how they sort of, designate whether or not the person who is answering questions is lying or telling the truth is they take a look at the spikes in their heartbeat. And so these are the heartbeat of the output of the protagonist as represented in the red line. Okay, so that’s the above the surface output number is the red. Now the blue number is the differential meaning the difference between the input and the output. And you can see that the blue line is the beyond the surface. And this is what the sum total that is moving to Sam is coming from in each of these beats. So this is beat specific. And you’ll see that it’s, it’s really kind of cool, because it’s mirroring and then crossing the red and the green. And what that means is that we’re noticing the conflict here. So the beyond the surface is showing the MIS attunement between the input and the output such that there’s conflict. And it’s it’s exciting to witness conflict. Cool. So that’s the beyond the surface blue blue number. What about that black line? Well, the black line is what we call the audience hedonic state. And what the black line represents is accumulation of energy that is being transferred to our single audience member. So this is really what she is experiencing from moment to moment in the story. And you can see it begins at one place, and that ends at another. And that goes through all these wild roller coaster rides. And this represents how Ed mcbaine is energizing and giving our Sam specific kinds of jolts of energy. And you’ll see sometimes Sam experiences some anxiety, and that’s when it falls belong. Below that, that middle line. And when it approached goes above it, she gets excited. So this is really interesting to see how Sam is responding. So this is literally the emotional state of the single audience member, as she is experiencing the story from beat to beat. Now this is really cool. And it’s very, very helpful in being able to now so this is very much what we call the bottom up. This is the very bottom of story. This is the energy transfer from author to Sam and it’s very useful for us at story grid, because it enables us to now go and take a look at where are those? Where are those? Those high points and low points? What do they mean? What’s it about? Can we identify our five come admits of storytelling in those high points and low points. And well, I think you know what the answer is? Yes, of course we can. So I think Leslie and Danielle have done some work about pinpointing exactly which B represents which part of our five commandments of storytelling. So let me turn it over to what why don’t I turn it over to Lesley first, and she can outline, you know, what the five commandments are, again, give us a brief overview of what they are. And then then we can get into specifically which places we think those are happening. And maybe they can ask Tim what he thinks too. So let me turn it over to Lesley now.

Leslie Watts  10:43

So I think it’s useful, it is useful to keep moving toggling between different levels of analysis as we’re as we’re reviewing the beats because we want to understand where things are, and what they’re doing in the story, how they’re how the the, the organizational parts are functioning. So to that end, the five commandments we have the first one is the inciting incident. And in this story, it is the the murder of Mrs. Anderson, Lieutenant Anderson’s wife, we don’t know that that’s who it is at the time. But, but that’s the inciting incident. And Struthers sees that he’s a witness to that, and that upsets his life. So then we move on to the the turning point progressive complication. And what there are obviously progressive complications that have happened in the scene where capelli is interacting with Struthers and trying to get him to, you know, tell his story so he can get him in, in front of a lineup and, and identify the killer. But what happens in the in the turning point of the story is that the lieutenant comes in and first Struthers hears and then sees who it is, and he identifies him. And so when that happens, he faces a crisis. And it’s the best bad choice. And it’s should he keep silent and run out of there? Or should he speak up and expose the lieutenant in the climax, he enacts his decision to leave, he is not going to speak up. He’s going to get out of there. And then the resolution is that capelli asks a question of, you know, what got into him? Why did this happen? And the lieutenant says, I don’t know. And so through that through Struthers action capelli has a revelation to and he realizes that the lieutenant is the is the murderer. So those are the five commandments of this story.

Danielle Kiowski  13:04

Yeah, absolutely, that’s a that’s such a great review of what we went through in previous weeks to look at what the five commandments are, and what moments they are in the story. And then we can really get down to the on page evidence, and look at which beats make up the five commandments. And this is a really good exercise. So when we look at the five commandments, and we identify the five commandments and the story grid 624, we pull out the text. And the reason for that is that we need to be able to pinpoint when each of the five commandments happens. So it’s not just a more Firstly, there was a murder, we need to know from the text that there was a murderer. So we want all of the five commandments to have evidence on the page. And then we can take that a step further, and take that text and then really break it down into its component pieces to see what’s going on in the execution of each of these five commandments. So let’s take a let’s start by taking a look at the inciting incidents of the story. And I think this one is really interesting, and it’s going to be fun to look at. So let’s say as you said, this happens when the when Lieutenant Anderson’s wife, Mrs. Anderson, is murdered. Now, the reason I think this is interesting to look at is that we’ve said that we need to have evidence on the page. But the story starts in media stress, right? So we don’t have that necessarily on the page. But what we find is that we’ll have an iteration or an instantiation of an immediate race inciting incident on the page. So let’s take a look at where that happens. So the text for the inciting incident is he had seen a murderer and the site had sunken into the brown pits that were his eyes. And this is fascinating because it uses it uses a verb tense the head I’d seen that we often see when we have invidious race beginnings that are then instantiated on the page. So I love this text too, because it’s really bringing that murderer onto the page. And showing us how important it’s going to be in the story without actually showing us the crime on the page. And this is something that happens a lot in detective stories, in particular, because part of the fun of a detective story is figuring out what actually happened. So we don’t want to see the crime on the page, because then we know too much. And instead, we’re going to reconstruct that event throughout the course of the story. So starting it this way, is, is really interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about what the characteristics of this beat are. So Tim, we can go over to you do you think that this is a an act of buildup, a binding, or breakdown, beat, it’s a binding beat, you have an a binding beat, and that’s coming directly from the author. And so when we talk about the five commandments, and and we’ve gone through the 624, we’ve gone through all of these levels, what we see is that they are really coming onto the page, in this kind of, of execution. So it’s not just that we’re seeing the murderer. As we said, we don’t want to do that. But instead, we’re seeing the author capelli, we’re seeing him come directly to us and tell us what happened. And so here, what we’re seeing is this instantiation of his understanding of the end of the story, circling around and then coming onto the page and this beginning beat. So he’s saying right away that this was a murder, and we need to treat it as such. And we’re going to see in what we saw, when we went through the first few beats, that capelli as an avatar refers to this as a mugging, he’s more removed from it, he thinks it’s a mugging gone wrong. And so by getting the inciting incident directly from the author, we’re bypassing all of that, all the misunderstanding that haunts the the avatars and the beginning. And we’re really getting to the core of the event. So we also have some characteristics listed out here that are, that are, as you said, Shawn, things that we look at in the gilt, but they’re not things that we look at in the podcast. So as we go through this document, those of you watching on video will see some things that you might not understand yet. And we have plenty of training on that in in the gills. So all of these are really critical things to understand about beats. But we’re just going through the the characteristics that have the most impact on the energy level of the beat. So we have binding, it is world building. And when so we have all of these other characteristics. And we also have the valence, and that’s a really important one to understand the directionality of the energy, whether it’s positive or negative. And so here we have, this is an enlivening beat, because it’s propelling Sam forward into the story. So even though this is a scary event, she’s sitting in a safe place, she can observe this through the safety of the author. And so she’s not getting a depleting moment. Instead, she’s getting an enlivening one that propels her into the story.

Leslie Watts  18:26

So what I love about this B in particular, is it shows how the the narrative devices operating on the page, right? We identify capelli as a sovereign Threshold Guardian detective, right? He’s the as as author, right? And, and so what he’s doing in this beat is identifying a problem for Sam, his single audience member and a binding be is really focusing on meaning. Right, and, and so, because of the situation that we identified with capelli, as author, sharing, sharing this story, in the form of a police report, with a younger detective with someone with less experience, what’s really cool about this is that he’s calling out what this means right away. He’s saying he saw a murder, and here’s some evidence that backs that up. And so it’s a really beautiful way for capelli given his purpose, to introduce the story, as you said, Danielle, that the the inciting incident is in Medius race, so we’re coming in, things have already happened, things have progressed pretty far. And that’s the point at which Sam would become involved in a in a situation like this, where Sam wants to get the alert someone else to the information that she has witnessed. So this is a really lovely example of that kind of operation.

Danielle Kiowski  20:07

Love that point about when Sam gets included. And as a reminder here, Sam is that young detective. And so we had a little bit of discussion in the narrative device episode about how there’s a disconnect between the protagonists on the surface role in the scene, and Sam’s on the surface role in this universe. And that is that Sam is a detective. And we can tell that through the informational details, like Sam doesn’t need to know what a precinct looks like. Whereas the protagonist is a witness who’s coming into an unfamiliar context. And so they play the same sort of role in that they both use the witnessing function, to see things that are going to potentially put them at risk. And they both then have to learn how to deal with those things. And so I think that’s a really great point that you’re making that the that this is when the, as we talked about the wave function of the inciting incident hits Sam’s home context. And so that’s when Sam becomes involved in the situation. So after this beat, things progress. And we really go through most of the story before we see another commandment. And the this is because we need to negotiate the relationship between Struthers and capelli. We need to see whether they’re going to be on the same side or not. That’s the Whose side are you on. And then we need to hear the story of what happened so that we have the full context of where Struthers is coming from. And that has twists and turns where we hear a lot of different things, we find out that he may not be the wholesome actor that he at first appears to be. So we learn all these things. Now, why is there such a long stretch in between the inciting incident and the turning point progressive complication? Well, that’s because we need all of the information that’s necessary for Sam to properly to properly understand and feel along with the protagonists the impact of the turning point. So without everything that comes before Sam doesn’t know what a big moment it is, when the lieutenant walks in. But with all of the setup that we go through in the scene she does. And she’s able to correctly identify the energetic signature of this turning point progressive complication. So we don’t want to, we don’t want to confuse them. And in so this is really important that what we want for Sam is that at every beat, we want her to be able to correctly identify the energetic signature of what’s going on, based on what the author has told her. Sometimes they’re unreliable narrators. That’s a different experience. But when she’s going through a story and experiencing it, she needs to be able to clearly delineate what the energetic signature is at each moment. And so so it’s we’re not playing tricks on her. We’re enabling her to have a cathartic experience based on true, clear signal that’s coming through. And so the way to create to create intrigue and to create excitement is through creating conflict in the story, not by hiding facts that she wants to find out later. We can do setups and payoffs. Absolutely. But that’s not it’s not about confusion, because we want these to be masterworks right. And this is certainly a masterwork story. So we want them to work over multiple reads. And this for sure works on multiple reads. I mean, I think you get to the end of the story, and you want to read it again right away. And it needs to work again and again and again. And so we want to rely not on tricks about you know, hiding, hiding things under under cups and moving them around. Instead, we want to rely on a solid, energetic Foundation, and use those kinds of additional things maybe as extra fun things like there’s absolutely a twist at the end. But we don’t want to rely on that to create the drive of the story. Because then it’s a it’s a one read and you’re done kind of story. And that’s not what we’re trying to create here. So here we have a really beautiful example of this working at both of those levels where it has a strong energetic Foundation. And it also has a fun twist. And this is that twist, right that we’re going to see in the rest of the five commandments. So in the turning point, progressive complication, the lieutenant comes in. And this is a revelatory moment where the lieutenant’s entrance alerts Struthers to a fact about the lieutenant that he did not know before. And so the text here is we’d waited for about five minutes when the door opened. A voice lined with anguish and fatigue, said Mack tells me you’ve got a witness. So the turning point progress So complication is a breakdown beat because Struthers breaks down in response to the entrance of the lieutenant. So and that’s because he now knows something that is quite novel in his context right? The Invisible fear gorilla of the crime has become visible in that the corruption goes much deeper than he ever thought possible. So the output is I turned from the window ready to say yes sir. And Struthers turned to face the door at the same time his eyebrows lifted and his eyes grew wide. So this is a classic textbook freeze on the part of of Struthers here, and capelli and Struthers after their negotiation of how they’re going to act. Now they’re acting as a team. So you can see here that the Whose side are you on scene has culminated in this joint reaction to the entrance of someone. And capelli is ready to say, Yes, sir. But he doesn’t, because his compatriot his teammate, has a breakdown. And so because they’ve negotiated this relationship, they’re on the same side, they have that breakdown together. And that leads to capelli is revelation of what Struthers has seen. So on the input, we have Lieutenant Anderson coming in, ostensibly enabling he’s being he’s being enlivening. He’s having an active build up. He wants to get to the bottom of this thing. But then we get that reversal, when Struthers has this breakdown, and so he has a breakdown that is depleting, as we’ve talked about, breakdowns are depleting, because he’s freezing in the face of really coming to face face to face with his worst fear. He’s already as we talked about, set the criteria. And if this guy sees me, I’m out of here, and the sky is seeing him now. And he’s not only seeing him, but he has absolute control over the situation, because he’s the leader of this precinct.

Shawn Coyne  27:04

So what I’d like to just add on top of what Danielle was talking about, which was fantastic, is a little bit of physics. It’s not that much. But this is something called self organizing criticality. And it’s about this physicist named pur Bach. And he did these experiments, experiments, I think, in the 60s or 70s, where he used sand. And what he discovered is that once you start dropping more and more grains of sand, essentially, at some point that the sandcastle will topple over, it will break down. And so this is what happens sort of in our minds too. So these little grains of progressive complication, when we’re when we’re Miss reading something, we we don’t really recognize that we’ve made a mistake. We don’t break down until a critical moment. And that’s what we call the turning point. So the breakdown beat here represents that moment when the sand castle in in Struthers and Capello’s mind topples over and they go, Oh, wow, something just happened here. And I got to get out of here. Everything that I thought was true is no longer true. And I must, I don’t know what to do about it. So that’s a breakdown when what we believe has been true proves untrue. And so Struthers believed that when he went to the police station, he would be safe, that the killer definitely was not going to be at the police station. So that’s how he operated. That’s the the axiological belief that he had when he went to the police station. And so when this when it when the lieutenant appears, and he discovers it’s the same person who murdered Mrs. Anderson, that breaks him down. So a turning point is a breakdown when what we believe to be true turns out to be false. And so it’s a very dramatic moment. It also makes our single Audience Member sort of go, what just happened, right? So our single audience member has a little bit of a breakdown herself. And she wants to now sort of like back propagate and take a look like she wants to stop and pause for a moment and say, What just happened? She freezes a little bit. So this is how exactly a master writer can enable Sam to have a mind breakdown at the same time as the protagonist breakdown, which enables Sam to have an empathetic feeling towards the protagonist. So this is a textbook case and if you take a look at that deep dive at that Look at that number 32 B, you see the breakdown of Sam as well as the breakdown of Mr. Struthers. And what do you see in the green? Well, the green is capelli is having a revelation. And they’re all having a revelation capelli is identifying he’s enlivened, because now he’s found the killer. Whereas Struthers and Sam are depleted, because they have discovered that what they thought was true is now no longer true. So that’s depleting when we discover we’ve been operating under false pretenses and the false idea of what the world is, that gives us a breakdown. But when we discover a thing that’s going to get us to a gold state, that’s enlivening. So you see that, that level of the next beat, we see capelli is green line goes up, which is really fascinating. So this is, this is what the story grid sort of provides for us. It shows you the actual energy transfer that supports the five commandments of storytelling in a very literal way. And it’s very much like physics. So the per box self organizing criticality analysis is is very convergent with what we’re doing here. So I hate to get sciency. But it’s just a further convergence to show that the work work that we’re doing that story grid has a lot of levels beneath it that is supportive of our hypothesis in theory.

Danielle Kiowski  31:44

Yeah, that’s great. And it really shows how the shape of this graph connects back to what we’re actually seeing on the page and what we’re experiencing as Sam, which is fantastic. So we have this toppling in the turning point progressive complication. And then, as you pointed out, capelli is figuring some things out at the same time. And so we’re going to see through the rest of the story, how we start to get that recovery. So let’s go and take a look at how that happens. So when we go down to we, the crisis is going to be dramatized earlier. So we have the stakes building up so that by the time that we experienced the turning point, we are experiencing the crisis along with Struthers as we as the audience and then Sam as audience we’re experiencing along with Struthers, the full impact of the crisis. And then we move into the climax. So in the climax, Struthers leaves and this is the second part of the output from the beat that we were just looking at. And so Struthers says no, I’ll just read the text. No Struthers said suddenly, I I’ve changed my mind, I can’t do it, I have to go, I have to go. He slammed his head onto his head and ran out quickly, almost before I’d gotten to my feet. So I really liked this one. I think it’s really clever on the part of capelli. Really, throughout this capelli is is a savvy character. He’s he knows what’s up in this precinct. And he knows exactly how to present things to absolve himself of any any culpability, while also letting everyone know really exactly what’s happening. And the phrase I really like here, just nerd out a little bit with all of you is almost before I’d gotten to my feet now almost before that’s a weird one, right? So what he’s really saying here, if we parse through all of the, the, you know, waffling about and in the negatives and everything. He has gotten to his feet so he could stop Struthers, but he doesn’t. And so what we find out in this moment is that capelli through the through the negotiation of his relationship with Struthers through finding out that they are really on the same side and through witnessing his teammate undergoing this breakdown. He’s had that revelation. He knows what’s going on and that’s why he doesn’t stop Struthers from running out, even though he is despite his protestations actually on his feet. At the time that Struthers runs out. Struthers runs out, unimpeded. And again, this is all this is all baked into that breakdown that Struthers is having as that output connected to the input of the turning point of the lieutenant arriving. Now this is really interesting because what we see is that the turning point happens and the climax happens very quickly right even within the same beat. And as we were talking about before Struthers has already set the criteria for himself, If this guy sees me, I will leave. So that means that he can process the crisis pretty quickly because he already has a criterion set for his action. And he’s able to, he’s already simulated all of the things that could happen if the if this guy sees him. And so he has a very clear idea about what’s going to happen. He knows he needs to get out of there. Now, this isn’t always the case, we might see stories where the the protagonist is faced with something they haven’t necessarily simulated. And so while this is novelty, in the context, Struthers didn’t expect to see the murderer, as the lieutenant, he had figured out the risk to himself if he saw the murder at all. And so he doesn’t need to spend time building out what all of those stakes and all of those consequences would be, he already has that ready to go. So he can just deploy that, figure out what the wrist himself is and weigh it very quickly, and move into the climax. So here, we don’t see a lot of focus on that crisis, we see the turning point and the climax very close together. And that’s why we rely on Sam to have a thorough understanding of the stakes from earlier points in the story. So as I said, I love the subtlety of the speech, because it really does embed that capelli understands Struthers actions. And it also gives us a really nice progression from Struthers freeze to his decision to run out of the room. And so we have a little bit of a flight moment where he’s saying, you know, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. And then he decides to run away and, and live to fight another day. So that’s what’s going on in the speed. And it really wraps those two commandments together into a very nice, tightly linked package that’s consistent with the way that we as human beings would deal with a situation like this psychologically, that he goes through the stages of reaction to novelty, while capelli in the moment, is processing and going through things based on the the alliances that he’s built. And then avatar capelli is giving us an evaluation from from the future. So so compelling himself is reacting in the moment. And then our author capelli has the vantage point to look back and say, This is what was going on at that time. And he’s doing it very subtly. But he’s baking it into every word of this beat. And it’s, it’s very masterfully executed.

Leslie Watts  37:31

One of the things this, this this, this beat here at the end is also doing which I love is it’s it’s connecting up something that we talked about, in terms of the scene type. When we were doing the scene events synthesis, we we declared who issue we identified this, as I which side are you on scene. And so one of the things I think is really great is that that’s what’s happening in the scene. That’s what the two primary avatars Strothers, who’s our protagonist, and capelli, who’s the, the detective who is trying to get him to give up the story, give up the identification, they are both engaged in testing and measuring and, and trying to figure out where they sit in regard to one another. But what I love about this is that this is also a you know, from capelli, as the author, we’re seeing a, this is how you figure out which side you are on, or this is how you choose a side. And when so when capelli the author is speaking to Sam, as a Threshold Guardian, author, he’s offering a solution. This is a solution. And then the question for the reader is, which side are you on? Which side are you What would you choose? Would you have the courage to do this too? And, and so I love that. And Daniel, I think this is part of what makes this a really special story is because not just Sam but also the reader is wondering, Where do I come down on this? How do I show up and and that’s why I think 2000 words, it’s really a really powerful story and amazing. So if we could, if we could do one of these stories in our lives, that would be amazing. But I just wanted to tie up the scene type, the essential which ties to the essential tactics and the scene events synthesis, and then the what the narrator what the author rather, is trying to help Sam do and then ultimately helps us as readers due to

Danielle Kiowski  39:54

thanks, Leslie. I love that connection to the scene tight and it’s so true that that the climax right is the core event of the scene. And so seeing that connection to scene type is so important that we want to make sure that our five commandments in the scene are aligned with the the macro in that way, in the same way that we need our core event or climax of our global story to align with the core event of our of our genre. So what we see is that at all of these levels, we want to make sure that the most important parts are resonating through all of the levels from the the most micro on the page, all the way up to the five genre leaves that we covered in the very first episode, going through the story. So I love that. And then of course, the last commandment is figuring out how it all worked out. And that is the resolution. So in the final beat that we’re going to go through to explore our five commandments, we have the resolution, which is on the surface, the antagonist denies involvement at the end. So looking at the actual text of that we have input from capelli. Now what the hell got into him all of a sudden, I asked, and the output, Lieutenant Anderson struggled to wearily, I don’t know, he said, I don’t know. Now, this is fascinating, because as we’ve talked about, when we go through beats, our output her is our protagonist. And so here, Lieutenant Anderson is taking over the role of protagonist. And that is a very interesting choice on Ed McMahon’s part, and one that we can see mirrored in other stories. So I want to point this out as something that is. That is something to consider when we’re when we’re building protagonists and antagonists is that the role of protagonist really just means the the avatar who is outputting, the avatar who owns the climax, and every output is a climax of the mini unit of story. And therefore, the one that Sam will identify with the one that Sam will empathize with, and try to still try to put herself in that avatar shoes. Now, that means that protagonism is always there. The same way that other archetypes that we see like the mentor, things like that are always there. It’s an undercurrent of the story. It’s not a specific simulated person. So if the protagonist leaves, that doesn’t mean that your protagonist is gone, it means that that role of protagonist is now occupied by a vacuum and what happens, something rushes in to fill that vacuum. And having the shadow having the antagonist fill that role. And I use the antagonist here a little bit loosely, what we want to talk about is the shadow because the antagonist is just the one supplying input. So So Lieutenant Anderson, in the previous feed, that we looked at was the antagonist and that he was the importer, but he’s also the shadow and that he’s the, the actor that that is the actor of it, that symbolizes destruction, he breaks things down, he destroys and, and he rushes in and fills that vacuum of the protagonist. And this is something that we see in other stories, like when we look at something like the hobbit Thorin often steps in and plays that protagonist role for Bilbo. It’s fascinating. And what we’re doing there when we, when we make that choice, as writers when we have our authors present that is that we’re showing the psychological parallel between our luminary figure and our shadow figure, they’re after the same thing. They’re doing it in different ways. But, but really, they are. The opposites are closer than we’d like to admit. And so showing that in a story really helps people to understand the dynamics going on in their own lives and in the world. So Lieutenant Anderson rushes into two, fill this. And this is a very interesting beat, because capelli is giving Anderson a chance to come clean. And Anderson is giving capelli a chance to toe the line, and not sure what he knows. So both of them are testing each other at the end, just as all of the avatars have been testing each other throughout the whole thing. And we don’t know how it’s going to turn out except we do because this springboards us back to the beginning of the story, where we now see how capelli as this wiser avatar that’s gone through the whole story can tell the whole thing and tell us without telling us that the lieutenant was the one who committed the murder, right? That’s not on the page anymore, but it is It’s, it’s in all of these pieces that connect together. And so no one is going to read this story and say, I don’t know, the killer is probably still out there. Everyone who reads the story is going to know that Anderson did it. And that means that it’s on the page, even if it’s not overtly in the words, right, even if it doesn’t say Lieutenant Anderson was, in fact, the murderer, and he went to jail, right? We don’t know. But what we do know is that this moves a step closer to justice. So what we have here is that capelli and giving Anderson a chance, is acting in an enlivening way. He is using a buildup tactic. And then Anderson, he’s defeating that, but he is in turn, so he’s acting in a depleting way, but he’s in turn building up the relationship between himself and, and capelli by offering the possibility that, that capelli might, might be able to maintain that relationship, and act within this structure. And we only know from having read the story, we only know from the existence of the story itself, that that is not the path that capelli chose to take. We can imagine if if Andersen were talking to McGruder in this moment, the story would not exist. But capelli is the one who really takes that baton up and carries it closer to justice.

Shawn Coyne  46:24

I just like to highlight that that wonderful connection you made with the switch out of the protagonist at the end of the scene into the shadow figure. And I think you’re absolutely on the money. That was this is a pattern in story that enables we Sims. So we’ve got the SAM of our our generation of simulation, which is the young police detective. And then we’ve got the rest of us who are reading the story for ourselves. And one of the things that people have a difficult time doing is identifying their shadow. So what we do is we often fall in love with stories where the shadow figures play play a lot of protagonist roles. I’m thinking of Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal Lecter, right. So Hannibal Lecter does a lot of outputting. He plays the protagonist a role quite a bit. And it enables us to identify that part within ourself that is sympathetic, that can understand the necessity for having an ability to stop things to destroy things. Not necessarily we want, we don’t want to destroy the things that are going to enable growth, but we want to destroy the things that are stopping growth. So the shadow figure within ourselves is a difficult one for us to integrate within our psyches. Because the collective cultural grammar in which we’re living today, and probably since I was born, has always been like, Oh, don’t you know, don’t be mean. Don’t Don’t stop that, you know, don’t judge anybody. But there is a time and a place for stopping that which is disintegrating, and the enabling force of growth and life. And so sometimes our shadow has to come out and say, no, no, no, you’re not going to do that. So even though we know that, that Lieutenant Anderson is the killer, placing him in the protagonist role is enabling us to see, for lack of a better phrase, the killer within ourselves, and the killer. Not, you know, you know, not many of us do that sort of thing, literally. But we do have the capacity of disintegration, we have the disintegration function. And it’s as crucial as the integration function. Because you gotta have both, right? It’s a paradox. You can’t always be integrating unless you are building from, you know, things that have fallen to the ground, the pieces, you’re putting the pieces back together. And so there’s a functionality of breaking things down so that you can build them back up again. And it’s no coincidence that our beats are called build up baits and break down dates and the binding of them that that brings them together. So we have the three B’s the binding, the build up and the breakup, and it’s very nice because it integrates into our capacities as luminary build up errs, and shadow breakdown errs, and we need both. And we need to bind those integrate them together such that we can be a coherent Psychic Force in this beautiful world we call Earth. So this is What Ed McBain is doing at this as this final moment. It’s like, Hey, start looking look through the shadows lens, what is Lieutenant Anderson going to do? How’s he going to get out of this spot, and I couldn’t help myself. And I read that saying, Gee, I wonder what I would do if I was in that situation. And what he tries to do is to get capelli on his side. And as you said, Danielle, he was unsuccessful, because, obviously capelli ratted him out with this brilliant story that he submitted as the police report, when this guy ran out of the precinct. Well, here’s what happened. So this is a masterful story. And as you said, Lesley, well, if we could all do a 2000 word piece with this, the kind of resonance and Power BI that would be something. But that’s all I have to say about that. But really well done on bringing the shadow as protagonist, as the means by which Sam and and we the readers can, can identify with our own shadow within and be able to possibly integrate that shadow and not try and, you know, push them into the, into the cellar, as you can’t, when you push this shadow into the cellar, he gets angry. So you don’t really want to do that.

Tim Grahl  51:22

We’ve wrapped this series up on the beats, could you just tell me a little bit like, What is this get me as a writer, like being able to see a graph like this? Going through, you know, beat by B, looking at input output, looking at enlivening verse to pleading, then mapping it out and actually having this graph. What does this give me as a writer as far as like helping me understand and I mean, if I want to write a story, as good as me pains one day, what is looking at it at this level actually get me closer to that goal.

Shawn Coyne  52:01

The purpose of this grid is to, to provide when we do analysis of masterwork scenes and masterwork, novels, etc. What we’re looking for is a mental model for us as writers to have sort of an aspirational pattern, so that we can check to see how close are we to our aspiration, right. So when we’re, when we’re playing baseball, or we’re playing the piano, or we’re learning the violin, or we’re learning how to scuba dive, there’s always an aspirational pattern that we can look at and go someday I want to be Vladimir Horowitz. Or someday I want to be the instructor who does their scuba training instead of the person who’s afraid to get in the water. Right. So that’s what these graphs provide us. They give us the aspirational design and pattern recognition, to be able to compare and contrast our work with those who have come before us and have created remarkable works that have traversed time and space. So what you get as a writer is a learning about energy transfer at the very bottom, right? So what’s the trouble with most writers, they’re squishy, they’re wishy washy, they’re afraid to put in valence language such that the audience can understand even what they’re trying to set, tell them. It was a pretty good day not as good as other days, but days, like sort of like maybe they were three years ago when I got ice cream at the fair. That’s sort of that’s the way people write unfortunately, they don’t say it was the worst day of my life, and I regret every moment of it. Now, if I gave you those two sentences, and I said which which one of these sentences would you like to read the next one of? You would say, give me the one where the guy is complaining about the worst day of his life? Not the sort of okay, day that might have been okay, if it were three to do that. Right. So that’s what at bottom our our teaching at story grid is all about is getting people to understand you’re communicating with someone else. You’re not just sort of fixing and futzing in your own mind. You need to send signal to your single audience member so that she can understand what you mean. So being ambiguous and saying, well let her figure out. That’s a cop out. You’ve got to figure it out. You’ve got to send clear signal to Sam. Now these graphs are our way of showing how master works send that signal. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out exactly what levels of analysis we can use to come up with a very coherent number, a specific number of energy that’s transferred at every beat level. On every input and output we analyze. So as a writer, if you understand just the essentials of enlivening and depleting, is that enlivening is that depleting in the ED mcbaine story, you can figure it out pretty quickly. You aren’t very, you know, you haven’t learned all of the techniques that Lesley and Danielle and I have. But what you were able to do by going through this beat by beat was you were able to figure out Yeah, that’s enlivening, you know, that’s depleting. Yeah, that seems to be a buildup. And that seems to be a breakdown. The more writers who understand this, the better signals they will be sending to Sam, and the better they will be able to, you know, push out all that stuff, that’s irrelevant. So that a sentence like, on that day, that once was okay, but really wasn’t so okay. And if you can change that, too, it was the worst day of my life, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s the first sentence of a pretty famous book, written by somebody who sent really good signal to his audience, we still read that guy’s name is Charles Dickens, even though the language and the syntax that he presents can be troublesome at times, because it’s like reading Shakespeare. But once you get into the flow of his language, you can understand the enlivening and depleting anyway, the point of writers learning this is to stop boring people with their fiddle battling, we don’t want ambiguity in our signal. That’s called noise. That’s noise, it’s not signal, and nobody wants incessant noise to be flooding their mind, we get plenty of that in the real world. When we read a story, we want signal, we want pure signal, we want somebody who takes a stand, we want clear capelli like signals so that we can understand what’s going on. And maybe just maybe it can help us understand that with there, if there are appellees in the world, the probability of having justice is much better than not having Capella ease, because then all we have are mug routers. And, and Anderson’s capelli, stands at the at the forefront of justice, he doesn’t guarantee justice, but he increases the probability of justice, because he sends very clear signal of what is right and wrong and true. And that’s what we need in our stories. Today, we want clear signal of how to navigate these very difficult double factor problems that you know, the seizures every single day. So these graphs, and this analysis is extraordinarily important for a writer, because it enables them to learn how to write properly, so that they can have a coherent story that can change the minds of their Sam’s, and can help facilitate Sam’s insights into being able to adapt and navigate this world with power. And with purpose. And with kindness, love caring, all those good virtues that we all really know deep in our souls are the things that we all want more of.

Danielle Kiowski  58:24

Yeah, I would add to that, our experience of going through the story beat by beat, what that really does is that it enables us to see at the ground level, what these avatars are doing and how they’re enacting those macro concepts. And going through beat by beat, we see things that we didn’t see before, even with 2030 4050 readings, when we really get in and we say okay, I have to put a label on this, then we start to really dig deep into what are they doing, and we uncover covert actions of these avatars, and we understand their psychology and who they are as people in a whole different way. What that enables us to do is understand the the energy flow of the story. Now, I think, the energy flow, right, like we get granularity on it, but also this, the black line matches our intuitive experience of the story. So it’s one of those things where we can match it intuitively while at the same time getting higher resolution on it. And once we have that very fine grained, very high resolution understanding at the bottom level, we can integrate that with the 624. And we have this bottom up level and we have this top down level and then what we create our tropes and that’s what we’re going to go into in future weeks. And what’s so exciting about tropes is that they form that bridge between the macro and the micro, and they’re really the sweet spot for moving out of analysis and intergeneration. So that I think that’s that’s going to be such an important tool for you as a writer Tim because it gives you the space that you need for creativity like you’re not bound by, I have to create an input that does exactly this and an output that does exactly this, you have a little bit more room to play while you’re still constrained so that you are doing something that is working toward creating a story that works and a story that resonates in the same way that the Master Work pattern scene does. So. So that’s another function of this bottom up analysis is that it enables us to get those opponent processes of micro and macro and then come together in this enabling tool that it’s the the trope that we’ll talk about next week.

Leslie Watts  1:00:42

Yeah, and if I could add one more thing, a couple years ago, I was listening to a podcast with a a famous best selling author, and that famous best selling author said, I wish there was a way to objectively identify whether the manuscript I’ve just completed, will work right will satisfy my readers. And I was screaming into into the, you know, not at him, obviously. But there is right, we have story grid 1.0, that really helps a writer with an editor, figure out does the macro story work? Does this work as a story? Does the structure fulfill the you know, enact the model? And now with this beat map with story grid 2.0, we are really showing how can you objectively tell if my sentences are making coherent scenes so that I can have a coherent story? And that, yeah, I think that is such a gift that Shawn has given us all to help us do this. So yes, there is an objective way to tell when you’ve got your manuscript if you’ve actually succeeded, and this is the tool that helps you do that.


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.