Episode 268: 624 Break Down: The Surprising Mistake in Tim’s First Draft

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. My name is Tim Grahl. I’m the host and I’m a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me shortly is the creator and founder of Story Grid, Shawn Coyne, an editor with over 30 years of experience. Along with him is Leslie watts, the editor in chief of Story Grid Publishing, and Danielle Kiowski, the Chief Academic Officer of Story Grid University. In this episode, we keep looking at the short story that I wrote based on eyewitness by Ed McBain. And now we start going through the 624 analysis and looking at how my short story diverged from eyewitness. Now of course, it has to diverge some right because I’m writing my own version of the story. I’m not just plagiarizing Ed McBain. But at the same time, we don’t want it to diverge to the point that I’m not using it as a masterwork guide. So it’s a kind of a needle, I’ve got a thread here. And so we start walking through how I went different, how I’d made it the same and some places that I need to make some fixes to get it right. So it’s a really great episode. And as you’re learning to give analysis of your own masterworks, and then write your own stories based on masterworks, you’re going to see how the 624 analysis really helped. And it really helped me with the writing and the evaluating of it as well. Now before we jump into that, I want to mention two things. So first off, if you’ve liked this whole 624 analysis, especially the narrative path part, right, where we talked about point of view, narrative device in the pop, we are running a narrative path workshop, this coming November in Nashville, Tennessee. So we have a few spots left, we’re really keeping it tight and constrained. But because we want to give everybody some, you know, real feedback, one on one feedback, and it’s being led by Leslie watts, she’s going to be facilitating, and then Danielle, Sean and I are going to be there helping as well. But if you’re interested in learning how to apply the narrative path to your own writing, I highly recommend you go to story grid.com, click on training at the top and you’ll see it right there at the top of the page. The other thing I want to mention is we are hosting an eight week Love Story mastermind. So this is where we’re going to go through the love story training that Shawn created. And then each week, he’s going to host a live zoom call, answering questions, walking through the course materials. So if you’re interested into figuring out how Story Grid works, and especially how it how it works with the love story, I recommend that you check this out as well, that’s on that same page, go to story grid.com, click on training at the top and there’s more information there. Okay, that’s it. Let’s go ahead and jump in and get started.

Shawn Coyne  02:57

Okay, so we’re back here. And the question that I always like to start with at the beginning of the sessions, in my mind, at least is who are we and why are we here? Right? So the first thing and that’s, that’s an essential, an existential question that you need to think about. So who are we were three people who are trying to help a writer as Tim says, Write a story that works, right. So what we’ve been doing over these past weeks is analyzing a masterwork short story so that Tim can learn from someone who has created something that does work and works at a very high level. And that’s, that’s the scene from the story from Ed McBain called eyewitness. Alright, so that’s who we are. And the three of us, Leslie, Danielle, and myself are editors. So those are the roles that we are playing. And we also have sort of micro editorial roles. So my my role here is to be the blue guy. And the blue guy thinks about the big patterns of intelligibility the big beyond the surface concepts that will move a person from an initial state to a goal state, such that they can keep doing that in iterating that process in in through time, so I’m all about the process of the blue. Leslie really focuses in on the red, which is really about the processing by which the writer needs to think and can enable their functionality while they are writing. So when they get stuck, Lesley likes to help people move into thinking about a new way a new way of framing the problems that they’re facing, such that they can solve them. So Leslie thinks about tools in the sort of as if Rome and So Leslie is really, really focuses on who we call Sam. And that’s the single Audience Member Is Sam being properly handled and taken care of is Sam’s problem being addressed. And so she she is the advocate for Sam. And she also helps the writer, figure out how to talk to Sam such that Sam can have an insight. Okay, lastly, so Leslie’s our red focus. And then lastly, we have, but not leastly. We have Danielle, who handles the green. And the green is is almost the quantum mechanical level of syntactical representation of words on the page. So, Danielle, always starts from the words, what are the words telling Danielle? How is Danielle able to analyze the choice of words such that the signal energy that the writer is sending to Sam is accurate, and it’s fluctuating and his variance. And it’s interesting, exciting, intriguing, and meaningful. So Danielle really looks at what’s really on the page here, because your intentions are all well and good. But the what’s on the page is the only signal that Sam can actually evaluate. So we have our three Story Grid levels, the blue, the red, and the green. On the blue representative. Lesley is the red representative. And Danielle is the green representative. So this is important for you to know because I as the blue master decided that we had made sort of maybe a mistake in our last session. And the mistake was more of a functional mistake more than it was a practical mistake. So the function of this particular series of episodes in our podcast is really to get Tim to be able to execute a masterwork scene with the greatest parallel or symmetry to the master artist, which is Ed McBain. So we were so impressed by Tim’s work in the previous couple of weeks, that we’ve been really encouraging him to make this story his own. And I think that’s a mistake. Not that Tim isn’t very, you know, didn’t do a great job and that he is incapable of making the story is on. But we I believe that he can still make this short story his own, but he needs to follow the rubric of McBain with greater veracity, he has to hit it at the right places. So what that means is that what I’d like to do this episode is to take a look at do a compare and contrast between the same that Tim wrote in a global way. Maybe we’ll get into specifics at the later part and Danielle can bring out her quantum mechanical machines and we can get into the Beats. But what we want to do is get a global understanding of where Tim’s story differs and where it differs specifically in the trope level from Ed McBain Haynes. And so what we’re going to do is use Story Grid toolboxes right, so we’ll be able to use the 624 to take a look at the differences in similarities between Tim seen and Ed McBain short story. And then we can find those for lack of a better term error messages where Tim made an error in in in iterating, the patterns that McBain had set forward. And then what I liked him to do is to go back to his work and recreate it such that it matches the Story Grid toolboxes analysis of Ed McBain and then we can see did Tim was Tim able to follow the rubric such that he has a closed short story at the end, as opposed to an open scene that is promising additional scenes in the future. So just to remind everybody that the scene that Tim wrote was really was really good. And what it did is it it excited us as a single audience members, and it intrigued us to the point that we’re expecting additional scenes after we’ve we’ve read it, whereas Ed McBain when you read eyewitness, it doesn’t make you think that there are additional scenes to come. Instead it makes you reflect and go back to the beginning to see what really happened here. So it has a closed system feel whereas 10 years Tim created something that’s still open. So a novel has to close, right and it has to end into a hole in order for us to feel satisfied. So with short stories, the same thing. We don’t feel satisfied with a short story if it doesn’t close. So that’s that’s a really key point. And the way McBain did close his short story was a really fun trick, which was the very first sentence closed the story before it even started, which was brilliant. Anyway, so let’s go back to our rubric. Let’s take a look at the 624 for Tim’s scene versus Ed McBain. So what we can do is just run through what we’ve created for Ed McBain and then see if Tim’s matches and then hopefully we’ll find those places where there’s a mismatch. And then we can investigate into the nuts and bolts of Tim’s scene to see where he specifically went off track in the actual word choices and BT inputs and outputs. So what I want to do now is turn it over to the red and that’s Lesley. And she can walk through the Global macros of our 624 until we hit these error messages so this should be fun because you know we didn’t plan this I this was kind of my spur of the moment idea. But just to remind everybody the goal state of the podcast for eyewitness is to get Tim to finish the ED McBain eyewitness scene with his own work in such a way that it closes in short story in the way that McBain is does, versus having an open scene that promises additional scenes in the future. Now if he wants to take up what he’s already written and write a novel or a novella based on it, awesome, we would really encourage that. But that’s not the goal state here. For for what we’re trying to accomplish an eyewitness, what we’re trying to accomplish here is to make an argument to all of you listeners, that following the patterns of Master Work scenes and short stories is a terrific way to train your ability to be able to execute and write very clear stories in the right now and in the future. So let me let me turn it over to Lesley now.

Leslie Watts  12:35

Okay, Tim. So I’ve got the 624 four eyewitness in front of me. And we’ll just kind of walk through the steps quickly, and then see where your story is departing from that, because obviously we want variation in the pattern. But we want to make sure that we’re functionally recreating it. So so we start with the five genre leaves, and the first one we start with is the time genre. And so this can be short, medium, or long. So for the ED McBain eyewitness story, we have a short story, it’s about 1200 words. And it the, the avatars within it also have a short experience of about 10 minutes. So for your story that you’ve written, what’s the time genre for Sam, the single Audience Member how long it takes? And then how is that? How does that compare with the avatars experience of the events of the story?

Tim Grahl  13:36

Yeah, I feel like it’s the same. Right? So my story is 14 115 words. And I would say it happens in the same timeframe of like 10 to 15 minutes,

Leslie Watts  13:48

right? Yes. Okay. And so what that means is when we have both of those very closely aligned, we’ve got a lot of real time action, because we’re not having to collapse or expand the story. Beyond what you know, what we’re seeing in the, in what’s happening. So that’s okay, so we’re, I’m on track with the time genre. The next is this story structure. And the two options here are the arc plot, which is the story of individual transformation, or a mini plot, which is the story of a transformation of the whole system. So for Ed McBain story, we have an arc plot. It’s about the transformation of an individual. And so for your story, what do you what do you think you have going there

Tim Grahl  14:43

may not feel like it’s arc plot. It’s just focused on a different individual, but we’re not getting to that yet. So I would say it’s still arc plot focused on the transformation of one individual.

Leslie Watts  14:55

Right, right. I agree. Okay, excellent. So then we move on onto the style of genre and so we have we have two categories First we have drama and comedy and then we have the the Met the mode that follows. Now I’ve got that wrong. It’s the mode first, which is drama or comedy. And then we’ve got different categories of of things like epistolary, literary and those kinds of things. So for Ed McBain eyewitness, we have drama. And then we have a pistol Larry, in essence, it’s a police report. It’s like journalism. So so that’s what we have for eyewitness. What do you have for your story?

Tim Grahl  15:42

I feel like I stuck to that for this one as well. So definitely drama. And I tried to keep that in mind that this was a just the facts sort of police report that he was giving.

Leslie Watts  15:54

Okay, so then our fifth leaf of the five genre leaves is the are the external and internal genres and we want to focus on the one that’s global. So we have

Tim Grahl  16:07

that we skipped number four, the reality genre.

Leslie Watts  16:11

Yes, we did.


Sorry. I’m getting

Leslie Watts  16:17

I’m getting excited. Okay, so for what is the reality genre and we have for Ed McBain, we have realism. So we have causes and effects that reflect our world and our experience. So what do you have going on in your story?

Tim Grahl  16:35

I had this the same as well with realism, right? Yep,

Leslie Watts  16:39

I totally agree. So then we move on to the content genre. And we have one external one internal and one that is global. So for Ed McBain I witness, we have the global story as the external, the crime story. And we have the internal secondary as worldview revelation. So what do you have for your story?

Tim Grahl  17:05

It’s definitely crime as the external and the global. What are the options for the internal again?

Leslie Watts  17:14

Well, the options are, you can have a status story. You can have a morality story, or you can have a worldview story. And then there’s sub genres within those.

Tim Grahl  17:27

What’s the value at stake in worldview, verse morality?

Leslie Watts  17:33

It is in essence, it’s it’s ignorance to knowledge and wisdom. For worldview. Yeah, that’s the value spectrum. We’re playing in with all the worldview stories.

Tim Grahl  17:46

But what about morality? Morality is

Leslie Watts  17:49

the spectrum of essentially selfishness to altruism, you are putting the needs of others ahead of your own in a in a growing spectrum, where it’s like first party, then second party, then third party, then the whole all of humanity ahead of your own needs.

Tim Grahl  18:11

Okay, I think this is also worldview then.

Leslie Watts  18:15

Okay, so it’s a shift in how the protagonist is viewing their situation, the world, the lens through which they’re seeing it. So that and that makes sense.

Tim Grahl  18:31

Yeah, cuz it’s the naivete masked as sophistication, is the I guess we’ll call it the negative end of that spectrum. And then wisdom would be the other end. And so I think, when we’re looking at the shift, it’s this naive view that getting you know, getting the villain is the only thing that matters. And that will shift by the end of the story and shifts within here slightly, I think.

Leslie Watts  19:04

Okay. Okay. And that’s specific to the protagonist that you’ve identified.

Tim Grahl  19:10

Yeah, that we identified in the last the last two episodes.

Shawn Coyne  19:14


Leslie Watts  19:15

Okay. Okay, so we’ll want to keep that in mind as we move forward. That finishes the five genre leaves, and we move on to the pop, which is our proposition of possibility. And this is I didn’t mention this before, but the five genre leaves are in the blue level of the 620 for the pop is as well. So these are dealing with eternal patterns. The five genre leaves are part of the governor function, right? How we’re constraining the space, and then the pop is the generator function. This is what we’re generating out of the constraints of the of the five genre leaves, choices that that we have from the story. So with the proposition of possibility, we start with the context. And this is the whole system setting for the story. And what we mean by that is, you know, we want to know when and where this is taking place. We want to know what kind of system it is just, you know, we want to boil that down. And then we want to understand what the double factor problem is. That’s opera that arises from that context that the protagonist, and all the other avatars are going to have to deal with. So in the ED McBain story, we have the criminal justice system around 1950 in a big city, so we’re in a police department. Building, right. And then we have this the description of the setting that, you know, the the system that we’re operating within, we’ve got this tight military structure, we’ve got detectives that are in the middle, and we have a lieutenant who’s overseeing them. So we have definitely very specific levels that that the individuals are operating under. And then the double factor problem that we have is that there’s discretion within the hierarchy. So we have this tightly ordered system, but this chaotic element, because there is discretion. And so that gives rise to the possibility for corruption and tyranny. So and within that story, we can tell that retribution and vengeance are a real problem, right? It’s not a very, it’s not a good predictive processing system where we, we trust that the bad guys are going to go to jail, and the good guys are the ones who are putting them there. Okay, so that was a lot. But when you think about your context, where and when do we have this, the story arising.

Tim Grahl  22:06

So I would say the criminal justice system is the same. The police have military structure type hierarchy is the same. Detectives are in the middle in mind, the captain’s overseeing them, that’s all the same. The time period is modern day. So 2022, the location is more specific. So instead of a big city, it’s specifically Nashville. And then the discretion within the hierarchy, the possibility of corruption and tyranny, retribution and vengeance. I wouldn’t say in mind, it’s not widespread, it’s more particular to the captain. So I don’t think I indicate that this is a widespread problem within the system. It’s I guess it depends, right. So I think it it would be from the viewpoint of Randall, the homeless guy, that there’s plenty of corruption and tyranny within the police department. But I think from the protagonists point of view, it’s centralized around the captain, so just more of one person, not the whole department or the whole, the whole system.

Leslie Watts  23:24

Okay, so one of the things we want to make sure we’re doing with the context is that the the double factor problem, every avatar within that context has to be dealing with it in some way. So even though they might have a different view of the of the context, a different perspective, each individual avatar, they will, they will have to be reckoning, wrangling with that with the fact that there is this tightly ordered system, in which there is also discretion. Right, so we that’s something we want to make sure is coming out. So in some way, the the protagonist and and all the other avatars have to be responding to that. And part of the reason we have that is that is because Sam is looking at the whole the whole problem space. And the the author who is trying to help Sam solve a problem isn’t telling Sam exactly what to do. But it’s showing different versions of different approaches to dealing with the problem. And so that’s why everybody in the context has to be grappling with it in some way.

Danielle Kiowski  24:46

Well, this was this is talking about like the way that you haven’t written note. So something that I’m noticing here is that when we go over the five genre leaves and you talk about worldview. The nature of the revelation is different the way that you have written now so you Have in eyewitness, the revelation is corruption is much deeper than we thought it could be. And that’s not your revelation here. The way that you’re talking about the story you’re talking about the story as homeless people are people to is the revelation revelation that people are coming to. And so that’s for Sam, is is that basically these disenfranchised groups are also agentic beings that we should value, see value and know. So when we think about the contextual problem, what I’m seeing in your context, is that everyone should have everyone should be grappling with like, When are people tools? And when are they people? So that’s the connection that I’m seeing there. And just because the revelation is different, I’m seeing a different contextual need there.

Tim Grahl  25:55

So instead of the corruption and tyranny it’s more about about how justice is meted out this, it’s kind of the same thing. But it’s, who is who is, like, allowed to get justice? Or who do we think is important enough to actually get justice for those sorts of things.

Leslie Watts  26:25

Right. So as as the artist right at the at the top of this, we have that we have the author who’s part of the narrative device, but as the artist, this will be the message you’re trying to send, right, the thing that you want to illuminate for a mass audience, as part of sharing your story. And so if that, that’s what, you know, what Danielle was talking about is what emerges from the story as written. So then you can go back and think about, is that the message I want to send? And do or do I want to tweak it. And then when you’re and then when you have that, when you get that really solid, then you can go back through the 624, make adjustments as needed. And then those go directly into the text and help you to make adjustments there.

Tim Grahl  27:24

Yeah, I like it the way it is, it was one of those that I didn’t realize that what I was talking about until we started talking about it as a group and responding to it. And, you know, I think I liked it. I am happy with that. If we can leave that, while still hitting the rubric of eyewitness. I’d be happy to leave that.

Leslie Watts  27:54

Okay, great. So that is that’s already right. Gonna give us some more clarity as we move down the 624. And then as we look at the text, because we can look at, for example, word choice, right, we’re going to want to be illuminating things that do work using words that that show how we’re looking at people. Right, so that so this story, it’s a crime story, but it’s a crime story that underneath is showing Sam, how do I deal with people? How am I treating people? How am I you know, how do I take them into account and all of that. So that is wonderful. Because I think if I may say a little sidebar, that’s totally on brand for you and make sense. So, so I love that and I love the clarity that Danielle brought to that by helping us really focus so So okay, so then we think about, we’ve got Nashville Police Department, contemporary, then we’ve got we still have this military structure, but it’s a military structure that that also puts people like Randall way at the bottom of the hierarchy, right there are taxpayers and there are not taxpayers to reference what Ed McBain was the words like Ed McBain used in eyewitness and and Randall is not even a taxpayer. Right. So, so that hierarchy that we’ve pulled from eyewitness, you get to you can use and apply and we’re fulfilling the function of that within our your variation on that pattern. So instead of retribution and vengeance and that deep corruption, it’s more of an in Individual corruption, right? And institutional but in how they see people as not people.

Tim Grahl  30:09

Retribution and vengeance is directed in this as more indifference.

Leslie Watts  30:14

Yeah. Okay. So we’ve got a great, very specific context. And then we want to see who is the protagonist. And we start with a very blue level of of who the protagonist is that is the pattern or the the role and we want to see, is the protagonist a fish out of water? Or are they a indigenous member of the pond? Right now we’ve already talked about how in the, in the eyewitness example, that is, the protagonist is Struthers Who is the witness, not the detective. And we’ve talked about how in your story, really Watson, who’s the detective emerges as the protagonist. So


if you

Leslie Watts  31:11

we identified Struthers in eyewitness though witness as a fish out of water, right? When he goes into that precinct. He is not. He doesn’t know how to navigate he, it’s new and unexpected to him. Now, when we do see how, by choosing Watson, we’re not we’re not fully meeting that pattern, because Because Watson would be an indigenous indigenous member of the Nashville Police Department.

Tim Grahl  31:49

Right? Yeah. So he’s not a fish out of the water. He’s a defender of the pond.

Leslie Watts  31:55

Right. Right. So and that’s why we have in an eyewitness, we have him operating. We have scuze me capelli, who’s the detective operating in the role of the member of the pond and the defender. And so we want to we want to shift the story in order to still accomplish this, your that the function of the context that you really want this when are people people to but we need we were going to shift it the protagonist to the witness or put the put the witness in the protagonist role.

Shawn Coyne  32:47

Can I jump in here for a second because first of all, what you guys are doing is is fantastic. And the revelation is delineation is perfect. So the bottom line here is you’re gonna have to do a switch out, you’re gonna have to switch out your your protagonists from Watson to Randall. And Randall, it’s critical that you do this. Why? Because your revelation is that homeless people are people too. So the only way for Sam to experience that homeless people or people to is to put Sam in the shoes of a homeless person. Because then Sam will be able to see the world through the eyes of Randall, as opposed to constantly seeing the eyes through Watson. So your revelatory controlling idea for your story works extraordinarily well for the pattern that McBain generated and I witness. So what I’m talking about are technicalities. But I would like you to just sort of throw in and just trust us that we have to switch out the protagonist from Watson to Randall and we have to do it at the time. That the exact same beat time that McBain did because we don’t we’re going to trust Ed McBain here. Because what he did was he probably went through a million drafts to come up with that perfect kairos moment when he does switch out the protagonist such that Sam is ready for that shift because it can be it can be too jarring for Sam. If it’s like when you watch a movie and they make a rapid cut in the editing. It can be jarring to the sensibility of of the audience. So McBain chose the perfect moment in the perfect beat to make that switch out. And Danielle has the technicalities of how to do the switch out and she also knows exactly what input or output and what beat. McBain did it. So what what I recommend is Is that the protagonist shift a as Lesley points out, we need to shift the protagonist from Watson to Randall, full stop. And we need to do it at a specific time at a specific beat in your story that maps on to the specific time and the specific beat that that McBain did. And I’d like you to just take a big pill of, I’m just going to do what they tell me to do. And we’ll see what happens. And not try and and argue about it. Because we’re just this is an experiment. So we’re not we’re not attached to anything right now. So we’re just going to try this theoretical approach to see if it actually brings about the effect that we’re hoping and we believe it will. So I’m going to, I’m going to stop there. But I think it might be a good time now to find the spot where you did not switch out the protagonist in the story, and then find the spot where McBain did and then use the same technique that McBain used in your story at that time. So I think what what I think would be a good idea now as to turn it over to Danielle, after your question, if you have one. And then Danielle might be able to pull up the beat map and show us exactly where. Okay, so I’m going to stop there.

Tim Grahl  36:25

I have I have no compunction to argue in this. And I think it’s important for me to talk a little bit about why that is. Because even with the last the episode where we weren’t seeing eye to eye, I’m losing track, but it was a couple episodes ago. And I got feedback from a couple of my friends that listened to it that were basically like like, you know, and I’ve gotten this feedback throughout the entire podcast is why does it Shawn just let you write what you want to write. And I was actually a little surprised, and maybe even a little disappointed when you guys let me slide on the fact that I didn’t switch out the protagonists because I, it was interesting before we started recording, Lesley encouraged me that if I was inspired to keep going with this scene, to keep going with the the scene I wrote and expanded into a novel I shouldn’t it was interesting, because I’ve actually felt very little inspiration to write new stuff like this lately, I’ve been working on some other projects. And and it was funny because I tried to force myself to do it over this last week of like, I was like, I’m just gonna write a scene, I kind of had the idea, I think it was a good idea. And I almost immediately lost track of what I was doing. And realizing, Oh, I don’t have a trope map through this, I don’t really know where I’m going. And so this is the this version we’re doing on the podcast is, I think the third version of this, we’ve done right I did a scene from beat the Reaper, I did a scene from The Wizard of Earth see, and then this one, and I am very much in the mode of I want to develop a skill set. So that when it comes time for me to write my own thing, again, I will have all these new tools and be really, and be able to use them in whatever way I need to use them. And so in this particular thing, I love that y’all love my scene, obviously. But I was like, well, I should have been able to do this, like I should have been able to start with this protagonist, switch over to this protagonist and then tell it from that protagonists point of view. Or, but I didn’t do that. And so now that we’re going back and say, well, actually, we want to make you do that we want to figure out how to how to, I’m like, Well, I want to know how to do that. Obviously, I don’t know how to do that yet, because I didn’t do it when I was explicitly told to. And so I’m all for this and I’m curious, I have I’m curious how to go about it. I’m like, Oh, I wonder Do I just need to like switch out the input or, or is it kind of like bigger than that? Because I do realize when I was writing the scene, I was thinking about it from Watson’s point of view and kind of watching him watch things instead of watching Randall watch things, which is basically me doing the same thing I’m trying to say not to do in the story. You know, which is look at it from people’s point of view that I’m not familiar with, right? So I’m all for this and I but I think it’s important to talk about it because we are not I am not ready to just write what I want to write yet. I don’t I’m not good enough yet. And so the whole reason we’re going through this is to just get me a skill set that will allow me to go off and write the things I want to do in the future. And so I still feel like I’m still in the dojo, acquiring skills, and so I’m up for anything.

Shawn Coyne  40:19

Okay, before I turn it over to Daniel, I do need to respond to that, because there is a very delicate process when you have knowledge that other people do not have. And it’s it’s transformational knowledge. So, it’s difficult, because the person, it’s sort of like trying to explain to somebody you know, what it’s like to be a parent who hasn’t had children. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but they’re not going to be able to understand what you’re talking about until they’ve actually had the child. But there are people who, who just want to do it their way. So I’m sorry, that was a poor, poor choice of metaphor. My point is that when you are mentoring, and you’re taking on the role of mentor, you have two tools that you have two, carrot and stick, right. So the carrot is all about, hey, you’re a special person who is capable, and you have a lot of potential. And I want to support you in your pursuit of knowledge. And so I want to encourage you to keep walking the path. And the other one is when you go off the path to whack you in the bottom, so that you get back on the path. Now you’ll you’ll understand what people prefer. Oh, you like that other path? Okay, let’s go down that path. Oh, isn’t this pretty? That’s really nice. Oh, look at you. Look, you found a flower on this other path. Meanwhile, that path leads over a cliff. And then you fall over the cliff, and I stand over the cliff going, sorry, you fell over the cliff? And then you’re like, Well, you told me that I wouldn’t go over a cliff. So the point is, is that your friends who say why doesn’t Shawn let you write what you want to write, the problems occur. When I do let you write what you want to write. They don’t occur because you have not executed what I’ve asked you to execute yet. And I can really bang on you and go listen, you are going to do what I say or, and then guess what you do you get nervous. It’s like having your dad watch you while you’re cleaning the driveway. You know, hey, you missed a spot. You get nervous, right? I wouldn’t have done it that way. Right? Or, hey, go clean the driveway, and let me know when you’re done. And then I’ll come and take a look at it. Well, you missed the spot over there? Well, I meant to, well, sorry, it’s still dirty, you got to clean that spot in the driveway. And that’s kind of my role. So my role is not to make Tim like me. Right? This is hard, because we all want to be liked and treasured and valued and seen and known. And all those wonderful things. And I am not immune to those desires, either. I like to be seen known and valued to. And when you push back at me and you refuse to do what I say, I don’t feel that I’ve been seen I’m known or unvalued. And then I’ll just get in tractable and go Well, fu Go ahead, go go write your thing, and go off the cliff. And I’ll laugh when you fall on your face. And then your friends are like well, I bet it’s magical. With those flowers are and then they fall. How many novels have those guys written? Zero, right? How many things that have they had professionally published that they actually got paid for? Zero? So do you want to listen to people who go you know, man, you should just do your own thing who have no, no professional ability at all. It’s like someone say, Oh, you got a heart problem. Let me just take a knife here and cut in there and see what I can find. You’re not going to do that. I’m a professional surgeon. If you want your heart operated on, I’m the guy to to hire, and it’s gonna hurt and there’s going to be recovery period. And it’s going to be difficult. It’s not a magical walk through the woods when you’re creating something because you have to think you have to really think about what you’re doing. Because if you execute something that’s nasty and wrong, and and people take it as gospel truth, then guess what, you are the creator of something that’s nasty and wrong. That is encouraging people to have really bad negative behavior. So if you want to write that story, because you’re mad at your wife, and you write a revenge story, that’s very exciting to people. And then blah, blah, blah, you know where I’m going here. So you have to be very, very thoughtful about what you’re doing. And so that’s why you want to work with someone like me, because I’m nothing if not thoughtful about it. And I’m not going to let you go off a cliff. If I can stop you from going off a cliff. And I, what you said is absolutely right. You didn’t execute it, and you got away with one, and you’re mad, and you should be mad. And guess what we did? At the beginning of this episode, we corrected that and said, You know what we’re going to, and guess what your revelatory idea is a perfect fit for this pattern. So we’re going to be okay, trust me. And you’re going to find out that you can write a story. That’s really really good. Saying what you want to say. And with the beautiful help from Ed McBain as your guide, and Lesley Danielle, and I can push you back on the path the right way. And it’s hard and but I’m going to turn it over to Danielle now because she can do the quantum mechanics of figuring out exactly where you need to switch off this protagonist. But I didn’t I couldn’t help myself. But when people say what is it, John let you write what you write. These are people who have never written anything worth value, I’m sorry, they haven’t. Because that’s not the way the world works. You don’t create anything of value if you don’t suffer a little bit if you don’t feel some pain.

Leslie Watts  46:59

And before we, before we dive into the Beats, what I want to make sure that for the process, it is really important to finish the 624 with the adjustments that you’ve made, so far. So that that will go down into the, you know, of course, the the narrative device, which focuses you on Sam’s problem, which is really important for making the decisions that you make at the line by line level. So it’s important to see where you veered from the pattern in the beat within the Beats, but it’s also really important to finish out that 624 With the adjustments that you’ve made to the, to the context and the double factor problem. And the and who the protagonist is.

Shawn Coyne  47:53

That’s a really good point. And I just want to jump in here, what I what I think would be really helpful, though, is to just show this one example of where, where it falls off the track in the Beats. And then we’ll we can cycle back up to you, Lesley. And then you can you can keep walking through this and we can find the other error messages. Does that make sense?

Danielle Kiowski  48:14

Great. So we’ll take a look at this. And then we’ll go back to the 624 After we figure out where the protagonist went off the rails. And so I really like or didn’t go off the rails as it were stayed on the same track. So and I really like the the framing that we have about how we do need to switch out this protagonist so that Sam really sees the CS Randall as as an as a human being that she’s putting herself into. So when we see this happen, first I want to take a look at eyewitness and look at where this happens in eyewitness. So the first thing that we have is this trope where we have a scene setting moment. So we’re getting into the context, we’re figuring out the way that things work. And we’re doing that through the eyes of capelli. The detective. So this is about capelli sizing up the team. And so the way that this relates to the revelation is that he’s figuring out what his partner Magruder is motivations are now, they have to do a lot of back and forth about what’s the best way to approach the lieutenant and this kind of thing. And that’s showing the, it’s hinting at the corruption that’s endemic to the context. So when you are executing yours, you’ll want to have a different focus, where that sizing up the team is talking about the way that people see people in the way that people treat people. And that’s mostly what you were getting at about the word choice about focusing on that. So that’s the purpose of this intro section, where we have a different protagonist, and we’re showing the context. That’s where we learned that those are universal factors. Then we have the You switch out. And that happens as we transition into trope two. So let’s take a look at where that is in eyewitness. So after capelli and McGruder come to an agreement that capelli is going to go and talk to Struthers. So they’ve negotiated it out. Magruder is basically like, you can stick your neck out on this if you want, I guess. But we find out later, he’s playing a covert game there. Then capelli goes over. And this is what we have. So up until now, we’ve had capelli as the output or the last input from Magruder is Yeah, McGruder agreed, and then the output is I left McGruder. Now this is a natural outcome of their discussion. So this is the end of, of that trope. And then we have capelli. So this is in the same sentence even the sentence itself is I left Magruder and walked over to the little man. So this sentence is showing us a baton shift. So I left McGruder, I turned my attention, I walked over to the little man to Struthers, so he’s taking off the mantle of output or and he’s becoming the input or by walking into a new situation. Then the output is he looked up when I approached him and then blinked. So what kind of a beat does that look like?

Tim Grahl  51:30

I mean, it’s an act of build up. Because he walked over to the little man. And then the output is he looked up when I approached and blinked.

Danielle Kiowski  51:45

Okay, do you think that unless is

Tim Grahl  51:46

He? Is he freezing there? Or? Okay. Yeah. So it’s a breakdown?

Danielle Kiowski  51:53

Yes. And so what he’s encountering is this novel input to him. Now, ordinarily, when we have the introduction of a protagonist, you have a new protagonist at the beginning of the novel, you don’t want to see them freeze too quickly. Because you’re going to if you don’t know them well enough, yet, it’s not. You don’t have the foundation to understand what’s going on with their freeze. So here, this is a very early freeze. This is the first time we really meet Struthers and he’s freezing right away. So what is this doing for us? Well, one is that we have the foundation already a little bit because we know from McGruder that he’s refused to talk to, to anyone in the police department except the lieutenant before this. So we have a little bit of context to understand this freeze. So through the contextual setting, we get a little bit of foundation that helps us cheat a little bit and get an early freeze. But why do we want to do that? We want to do that, because a freeze is a very powerful moment to really knock Sam into the role of that protagonist, because she’s experiencing novelty too. So having this powerful moment, early on, breakdowns are great for creating that empathy and creating that parallel bond between Sam and whatever avatar is breaking down. And that’s why you want to use them sparingly and only for avatars that are very important. And this avatar is very important. So right here, this is where we’re seeing the introduction of Struthers as protagonist. And we’re doing it through that powerful freeze moment and then we’re going to see that carry through until the end when we get the switch back. So now let’s take a look at your draft. So we have the setting of the context here. We have him talking to his partner. Okay, and here. Here’s what we have. So I’ll have a chat with him, see if I can get him to leave. Dawson swiveled his chair back to his monitor and started tapping on the keys. I stepped toward the breezeway. So here we have, and we don’t have the beat breakdown yet here. So I’m not sure exactly what the pattern is. But we have Dawson departing from this instead of how we have capelli departing from the interaction with Magruder. So there may be some pattern issues before this that we might need to address. But we’ll get to that in due time. This one what we want to so we want to start with this paragraph. I stepped toward the breezeway, and the man stopped rocking, eyeing me wearily. I pushed the door open and joined him inside, breathing through my mouth. So this is the equivalent of I left McGruder and walked over to the little man he looked up at me and blinked. What I’m seeing here is that This is that your version of it, they’re not head on in the way that capelli and Struthers are in that that confrontation is much more, is much stronger, where capelli walks up and Struthers blinks at him. This one, Randall is looking at him out of the corner of his eye. It’s like they’re passing. But they’re not head on, right. And so that doesn’t give us that input output field because inputs and outputs are head on, we know the inputs are targeted toward a particular output, or who is then responsible for giving the output. So that’s like walking up to someone and looking at them, they have to give you an output or it’s weird. Whereas this one, when he walks by, it’s just this sizing each other up. But there’s no expectation of interaction. And so what that does is it stops it from being that input and then break down. And instead what it is it’s a collapsed sequence of events that turns into binding. And so um, so what we have then is, I think that the the reason that it stays the reason that it stays with Watson, because he then does say evening, he says you the captain, but the reason we don’t get that energetic shift is that we were still looking through Watson’s eyes. So he’s responding to the way that he perceives this man. I mean, we saw breathing through my mouth, we’re getting Watson’s sensory input. And smell is a very intimate sense. So we’re, we’re perceiving this smell. And then we’re responding. We’re saying evening as Watson. So we’re still in the responder role of Watson. And we never do that switch, because we don’t have that breakdown, where we switch allegiances over to Randall.

Tim Grahl  56:55

Yeah, I see that with the breathing through my mouth. And, yeah, and I would guess, if we did the beat analysis, he would be inputting with you, the captain and outputting with I’m Detective Taylor Watson, and then moving from there. And that’s, that’s what I was kind of getting at where I’m like, I’m curious. The even just that, because there’s the technical part, which is the protagonist is always the output or right, so I could go in and try to just, you know, I could probably, like, adjust a couple of things and force that into the thing. But then there’s the more kind of, I don’t know what you would call it, but the breathing through my mouth is keeping me looking at the world through Watson’s eyes, instead of looking at the world through Randles eyes. Because even you know, he raised his yellow bloodshot eyes to me. Alright, so then I’m still looking at the world through experiencing Randall through what Watson has seen. Which, yeah, it’ll be interesting because it’s still a first person account of what happened.

Shawn Coyne  58:17

Just a pipe in here breathing through the mouth. Daniel Bryan, wait, this is very much about attaching a value to of qualia to the narrative, right. Remember what Leslie was saying? You made a choice to write a story that is dramatic, epistolary? It’s like a police report. Police reports are really about demonstrating a series of interactions with minimum viable quality attachment. What that means is they want to present the facts. Sean spoke into the microphone. Tim shook his head and nodded. It’s not Sean was feeling anxious when he spoke into the microphone, and Tim responded with a snarl as he nodded his head. The differences between those two are the differences between demonstrative indexicality of present moment as best captured by a narrator versus quality qualitative analysis of the internal subjective experiences of each of the avatars. So when you when you look at McBain the qualifications are very specific and very nuanced such that You have to really put put your lens on them to like taxpayer, the choice of the word taxpayer is very much a categorical of humanity, but it’s used in a derogatory way. So anyway, you’re absolutely right, you could manipulate. I know a lot of people do this when when they hear about the Story Grid input output, designations and that the output or is always the protagonist. So they just manipulate the inputs and outputs and say, hey, well, the output or was the protagonist here. But they’re, they’re ignoring the binding evaluation of the embedded qualifications of the language that lead up to the output. And that’s what Danielle was pointing out, is that this is now a flow of one first person’s experience, as opposed to a progression of interactions that have been captured by a reflective narrator, who also serves as one as the avatars. So that’s, that’s the I mean, like, technically, you play the game here, where it seems as if you switched out the protagonist, but you really didn’t, because of the binding qualifications in, in the in the sentence leading up to the interaction. And evening was a trick. Because why would you ever put that in a police report? I say good evening to the witness. You’ll never see a cop write down, I exchanged pleasantries. Maybe they would write that. So that’s why that’s why everything is so tightly bound. So as Lesley was talking about the five leaf genre, Clover, that stuff actually is important down here, right down here in the Beats. Because you’re you’re not playing the game of epistolary, dramatic police report journalism in this instantiation. And this, this is an error message. And what this error message does is it mucks up your transfer of protagonist, so that Sam can’t see the world through Randles eyes because she can only see it through the evaluations of Watson.

Leslie Watts  1:02:25

So Tim, you’ve we’ve discovered through going through the 624, that we had a discrepancy in the protagonist, we found that that we were dealing with a an indigenous member of the pond versus a fish out of water. And so and then we looked, Danielle guided us in through the actual text, where that transfer didn’t take place where we didn’t switch over to the to the protagonist in as identified in eyewitness. So instead of going through and forcing you to generate new or adjusted options for the 624, what I suggest is that you take what we’ve done here, where you we found an error message in the 624, found it in the text, and go back and finish the 624 and see where you have departed from the pattern. And then we’ll come back and talk about that next time.

Tim Grahl  1:03:28

Should I do the same thing? Where if I when I find the places I departed to go into the text and try to identify those as well? If that’s I’m sure that’s probably not relevant on all of them. But if it is,

Leslie Watts  1:03:42

yes, because that will that will be begin building your to do list when you’re when you’re rewriting the scene, but we don’t want you to rewrite the scene yet. We want to go through the 624 lock in all those options based on your adjustments to the to the context and the double factor problem. And then we’ll come back and review those. And then have you write your draft.

Tim Grahl  1:04:11

Thanks for listening to this episode of The Story Grid Podcast. For everything Story Grid related check out story grid.com Make sure you sign up for the newsletter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and make sure you don’t miss anything that we’re doing inside the Story Grid Universe. As I mentioned, we’re hosting the narrative path workshop, this coming November, and we’re hosting the love story mastermind. And you can see all of that at story grid.com/training Thanks as always, for listening to the Story Grid Podcast. You can help us out by going to Apple podcasts leaving a rating and review. If you want to check out the show notes. The transcript for this episode, any past episodes. All of that is at story grid.com/podcast Otherwise, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.


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.