Episode 278: Conflict and Emotional Connection: Every Beat, Trope, and Scene Must Have These

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. My name is Tim Grahl. I’m the CEO of Story Grid Universe, and I’m a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me shortly is Shawn Coyne, the creator and founder of Story Grid Universe, and a writer and storyteller with over 30 years of experience. Along with him is Leslie watts, the editor in chief of Story Grid Publishing, in Danielle Kiowski, the Chief Academic Officer of Story Grid University. And this episode, we’re continuing to work on my scene based on the master work I witnessed by Ed McBain. And one of the things I had to remind myself in this episode, and continue to remind myself and maybe even remind you as the listeners of this series, is that the point of doing this exercise is to get better at a skill set. This is what I’m working on is building up lots of skill sets. And as you see, each week, I’m learning something new. I’m having new insights into things. But the same time I’m iterating on the same thing over and over and over. And some of you have emailed me and some of you have been legitimately worried for me, some of you feel like we’re spending too much time on this. And I get I get what you’re saying I understand what you’re saying I could see how from the outside. That’s what this looks like. But the way I see it, is I have three experts that are taking their time to constantly look at how I can become a better writer. Some of you have even written in and said that you liked the scenes that I’ve written and you think they’re good enough. And I like the scenes I’ve written too. But again, that’s not what this is about. This isn’t creating a scene that I like a scene that’s publishable or short story, this publishable. This is about me continuing to iterate and level up as a writer, because if I can get really, really good at these things on this one short story, these are skill sets, these are tools that I’m going to take to all the future writing that I do. And so I’m reminding you, just as I’m reminding myself, when I get into these situations, and I start getting frustrated, but this week is really good. We look at lots of different things. We look at how to use tropes, we look at making sure there’s an emotional connection between the hero and the victim, we make sure that there’s actual like a turn in every single trope, there has to be actual conflict that shows up. But it’s a great episode, I think you’re gonna love it. So let’s jump in and get started.

Leslie Watts  02:26

Okay, so last week, Tim, we were asking you to clarify a few items, one of which was about the the hierarchy of corruption for the avatars in the story. And then we had a couple of other points that we mentioned. So how was that for you? How was the process of of revising this week?

Tim Grahl  02:49

For me the things that I was working on, I was trying to focus on that read level, and really understand just the motivations of everybody. And making that really clear and then adjusting that. Basically, the way I was thinking of is who’s the most guilty of the victim, the hero and the perpetrator. And making sure those are in the right hierarchy that we lined out. And then looking at how this stuff is related to Watson and how he reacts, and then how Rando reacts and trying to get all of those in line. So the first thing I worked on was actually getting a clearer way what Dawson wants, because we, we talked about last week that his analog in eyewitness wanted to score points. And so what I focused on here was that Dawson wants to basically keep Watson in his place. So he looks you know, Dawson’s, the old the old cop that’s been around for a long time, doesn’t like that these new cops think they’re all that. And so his job is to just make sure Watson knows his place and sticks to it. And so I just did several little things to try to move in that direction in their interaction. And I also added in their interaction, the Watson’s hiccup over Barnes being out in the woods in the middle of the night, because it just felt right to stick it in their conversation. And it also gave me another opportunity for Dawson to remind Watson of his place in the hierarchy. So I made that adjustment. And then I did make the adjustment to the victims role, right. So we talked about like having him blackmail for his own good is too much of a crime. And it would, it would not allow the reader to empathize with the victim. And so we, I adjusted it to what we talked about where he’s basically blackmailing Wilson for the good of the department and puts him in and tries to put him in a situation where he can leave with his dignity or not. So I just did that. And then the hardest part was figuring out a way, because it was some of the feedback last week was that it was too on the nose, that and too obvious about Randall being close to the body. And so I pulled in on a reread, I’m like, oh, man, yeah, I spent like a good, you know, three or four Beats on that instead of just one that would trigger Randles breakdown. And so but it’s hard it was, it was like, hard for me to figure out how it really just technically how to pull it off, where he just says something just enough to tip Watson off, but not too much. And so I made that adjustment down. Where he says that it looked like his jaw was broken, too. Because I was what I what I’m replaying in my head, the way that Randall is trying to tell is he never actually got close. Right. So what actually happened is when when barn showed up, he ran and then stopped and looked and started watching. But in his telling, he never got close, they never even knew he was there. And so he was hiding. And so for him to know that what he looked like in the dark, indicated that he got close. And so again, I was trying to like he got close, but not like completely say like, Yes, he was alive, you know, and I left anyway. So I don’t I still don’t know if I like, got that across very well. So and I think the three breakdowns we’re looking for and Watson, we’re, we’re for all for the three people, right? So Barnes when he Barnes random, and then of course, when he figures out it’s Wilson that did the crime. So the one with Wilson’s already in there, I’d left that alone. I didn’t mess with that. I added the one with Barnes with his interaction with Dawson. And then I adjusted the one with Randall. And then finally, I adjusted what he overheard what he says he overheard. And by just basically getting across that Wilson and Barnes knew each other because Watson didn’t know that at the beginning of this interaction. So that’s where I say, Barnes came out of the woods yelling, says what he yelled. And he said, that basically, based on the interaction, Watson says, sounds like they knew each other. And Randall agrees and says, seem that way. So that alone, like tips off, Watson, that Wait, what was I trying to accomplish with that? I lost my train of thought. And yeah, that oh, that that’s where that quick interaction is where I’m trying to show that they there was like some sort of blackmail involved because they knew each other. So. So those are the things I focused on on this one. And and then I adjusted some of what I wrote at the bottom as backstory. So those are the things I worked on. It was just really trying to get it you know, why everybody was doing what they’re doing, and trying to get those stumbles with Watson in there correctly. And probably the biggest adjustment, the place I made the the most adjustments just by word count was getting really clear on what Dawson wants in the in the interaction.

Leslie Watts  09:28

Okay, great. You know, it’s funny, you mentioned words, the word count, because I don’t do it every week, but this week, I just, I thought, Oh, let me check how it’s shaping up, you know, between eyewitness and, and your story, and it’s actually it’s pretty close. It’s 200 words difference. And so, that’s not always something it’s just something to kind of keep an eye on when you’re doing a pattern. iteration two, to see if there’s a you know, if there are good reasons for big differences, that’s just something we want to check. And then I’m really liking the approach. And the way that I approach the, you know, the filter for things that are in the, in the story at this level, since we’re looking at the, we’re looking at the red level, that, you know, looking at things from Sam’s problem, and then from there looking at the going down to the green level, but it’s sort of the red of the green, of looking at the avatars essential tactics, and then looking at trope function. So that was kind of how I was looking at things today. So I was I thought we might just kind of check out, you know, make a list of all of our items, and then and then decide what we want to talk about today. So, one of the things that I have is, is the along the lines of Sam and working on the working on adjusting Dawson and the way Dawson is showing up, is the line. Hell no, you’re supposed to sift through the attention, Horace before we call the boss him. You can buzz him if you’d like. And so I was still thinking about this in terms of is this? Is this illuminating Sam’s problem? Or how is this illuminating Sam’s problem? And then, and then recognizing that when Watson includes this, he kind of makes it he kind of makes Dawson look bad. And so just thinking about that from, from, what he what he’s trying to accomplish with this? And is that aligned with that? So that’s one thing I was thinking about. And I was thinking about in the part that follows. When barns is coming up? If we have a sufficient trigger, or to bring up barn so in this part, when when Watson is the the one who’s responding to inputs, we want to make sure that hey, what’s you know, what’s happening in the, in the scene makes it that that there’s a trigger? Or there’s an input that causes him to say, oh, you know, what, what about the wallet? And what about the badge. And so that was just something I wanted to check on. And then one other thing I had was it’s actually further in, and we might not get to it, but I’ll just mention it in case it’s in case it’s useful. It’s a long in, when I’m identifying as basically trope five, so this is when when Randall is appealing to the to Watson sense of pity. So we’ve got so it starts with Watson saying Why didn’t you call the police and then we get into it and, and there’s his his reassuring talk to Randall is I appreciate you coming in that took a lot of courage. And so this is slightly different from what we see in eyewitness, because because in that story capelli is focusing on you don’t have anything to worry about your you know, he’s addressing a different concern. And I wondered if this was kind of something from the, that different internal shift, or controlling idea, really, of? Is it? Are we focusing on the Randall as someone who is marginalized? Or are we focusing on Randall as someone who is not safe? So that was kind of those were kind of my main things that I picked up this week. So Sean, did you have some items that you want to mention?

Shawn Coyne  14:35

Yeah, um, first of all, it’s coming along nicely. So I want to say that first. But there are still signal problems in this for me. The Barnes it’s still not clear. Barnes is Barnes is intact. Questions in in the in the text or do not come through? And also, the non sequitur questions that come like the question, doesn’t it seem weird to? That’s kind of like that’s a clam? It’s what that means is that the it’s a it’s a cheat of the writer trying to get in exposition by having the narrator drop in a non sequitur question, because it’s raising false intrigue. So when. So when he does that, it doesn’t it rings like, it’s like an error message to Sam. So and the other thing that I recall from last week is that one of the suggestions that we had was to establish the intentions of barns through discussion between Dawson and Watson that would establish barns is, is one of the good ones. You know, this was a guy who was trying to change the corruption in the police department. And so also the other thing is that we need to cede the information that he suffered, that he did not die immediately, and that he suffered tremendously before he died. Because that under pins, the necessity for Randall to comment. So, alright, so those are signals that need to be clarified. Also, Barnes is not Barnes. Dawson’s roll still seems a little bit like he’s not involved in the corruption. And it as Leslie was talking and occurred to me, oh, wait a minute. Perhaps Dawson is part of the bad crew. In the in the precinct, maybe he’s aligned with the lieutenant. Maybe his intentions are to keep these do gooders under control. And, and Watson is aligned with Barnes. And so his Dawson’s actions to sort of circumvent evidence from being heard, would make sense for him to just go as just a bum. And so this police report would have a double edged ability for Watson to unearth the corruption to higher levels of the police department. Not only do we have a dirty lieutenant who murdered one of our colleagues, but he has defenders within the system who need to be questioned to. And so this is this could really work as a double factor pay off in the Revelation at the end that Dawson and the lieutenant are in cahoots. And that’s why Dotson tells the lieutenant, hey, Watson is interviewing this guy, you better you better get over there and scare the shit out of him so that he doesn’t give any evidence. So that that would mean that that supports the the controlling idea of from eyewitness, which is, like forgetting it, it’s one of those phrases when discretion is the better part of valor. Right. So the discretion here is the better part of valor, because the police report is the is the thing that will serve justice, not the the evidentiary declarations of the witness nor the art the author of the report itself. So you’ve got you’ve it’s so close, right? So there’s, there’s very, and as you said, a couple of weeks ago, Tim like the more you look at this, the more like you’re, you’re realizing, Oh, it’s just massaging these very, very specific Beats in sequence with the right signal, and it can transform the story. So you’re you’re focusing on the red level. was really smart here, I think we need some more read level examination, in order to affect the green level choices that you’re going to make with the language and you know it, everybody does it to drop in a clam here and there. And that’s when an editor is forced to go, Hey, that’s, I know what you were doing. You’re, you’re you’re taking, you’re trying to get an easy and easy solution here by going, Hey, I wonder if the butler had anything to do with it anyway, let’s get back to dinner, you know, that kind of thing. And you can always tell that in the old movies where they just ruined the movie for me. So anyway, that’s that’s really about the signals are still noisy. And the signals of the relationships of all these people in this pond are still a little bit fuzzy. We know who the victim is, now, we know who the perpetrator is. And we know who the hero is. We’ve just got to fill in the tangential players and have them part of the double factor corruption problem of of the crime story itself. So those are the points that I came up with. So let me pass it on to Danielle and see if she had anything else.

Danielle Kiowski  21:26

Yeah. So I think as we’ve been talking about the, the problems with this are getting lower level and more concrete, which is really nice, because that means that you’re making progress at those higher levels. And it’s setting you up well for a good execution. So I think there are three areas that we need to work on to make this a good iteration of the masterwork the first one, as we’ve been talking about is that first trope, where you have the interaction between Dawson and Watson. The second one is what we’ve been working on also, which is the the main interaction between Randall and Watson where Randall is telling a story. And then finally, we have where Wilson comes in at the end. So these are the pivotal moments of the story, where we’re really getting those progressive revelations. The way that I would summarize what’s going on in that first trope is that you did some work on what Dawson wants, but he doesn’t want something that conflicts with what Watson wants. So the way that I would summarize what’s going on there is Dawson once I had to pause to make sure I’m using the right words. Okay. Dawson ones, as you said, to keep Watson in his place, and Watson’s place is interviewing this guy who came in, and Watson wants to interview this guy who came in. So there’s really no problem. They just talk about some stuff before Watson goes to do the thing that they both want him to do. So I think introducing, and the way that that shows up in terms of story is that that first trope doesn’t turn. So we just have some conversation. That it and that’s I think, why that’s coming through as a clam, because it’s there just not for a purpose not to create conflict or anything, but but just to provide information. So if anything is there, just to provide information, it doesn’t get to be there. It has to be there to provide energy and information. And energy comes from conflict comes from that, that the cross purposes of the object of desire. So I really like Shawn suggestion of having Dawson be part of the corruption. And I would even though I was thinking as you’re suggesting that he wants Oh, that’s just a bum maybe take it a step further. And have Dawson be the one who’s going to interview this guy, Randall. And then Watson comes in and kind of sweeps the witness because Dawson has some something come up like maybe he has something urgent. So if Watson swoops, then Dawson’s gonna be like, Oh, no, he’s gonna get the full story and he’s gonna call Wilson to come down right away. So I think because because there are a couple of things I mean, now I’m getting into like the the weeds of this but when McGruder McGruder doesn’t call the lieutenant until capelli, buzzes him to get an identity line up together, because then he knows that capelli has something but here we need a reason for we need a reason For Dawson to be calling Wilson or Yes, Wilson. So. So the question is, why would he do that? And I think building that into that first trip makes sense, because he doesn’t have that opportunity when they have that interaction. And he learns that he’s gotten something because he knows at that point that he’s going to get something. What if

Tim Grahl  25:21

Dawson is the one that’s trying to offer the money to get Randall to leave and Watson walks in on it. So he’s trying to get rid of the wetness? Watson walks in, and then there’s this awkward moment, because it’s Watson’s job to interview witnesses and Dawson’s trying to get rid of a witness. And then he could basically pull Dawson in out of the breezeway. And they can have a quick conversation, where Watson takes the witness from him. And so there’d be a clear and it would be more like of a physical interaction than just like them standing at a desk having a conversation. You know, but what you said about that makes a lot of sense about base, basically, we have to have a full five commandment interaction in every trip.

Shawn Coyne  26:18

I really liked that to Tim, because it’s got a nice twist. Because the $10 at the beginning is offered by the bad guy. And the $10, at the end is offered by the good guy. And that that explains to the reader. Oh, wow, this cop is really smart, because he just used the same tool that the bad guy was going to use to get rid of the evidence in front of the killer. So it looks like Watson is on board with Dotson and the lieutenant when he hands Randall to 10 at the end, because that’s the tool of corruption payoffs. So a payoff is an indicator, it’s signal, right? I always talk about signal, what do I mean? You got to find the thing that indicates corruption and a payoff is beautiful. And so this is really brilliant how you came up with this, based upon Danielle’s suggestion, which was really spot on, of course. And now, you’re you’re you’re you’re using objects as symbolic representations. At a very, very visceral level. So when somebody hands you money to do something, they’re paying you off. So if you if you go with that suggestion, we’ve got Watson coming in, he’s running up the police report, one day I walked in, it was a late shift, you know, we’re on that Barnes thing. And I saw Dawson offering 10, that $10 to a witness. So I pulled him aside and said, let me just interview the guy. Yeah, he’s a bum, whatever. And then at the end doing it sorry, to it’s, it’s it’s just a nice twist. Because we’ve got overt corruption at the beginning, and covert justice at the end. It’s just this pretending to be corruption. And what what does Barnes do that ended up killing him? Was justice pretending to be blackmail. And that ended up killing him. So the message that you’re sending is discretion is the part of the better part of valor here, a guy lost his life, because he was he was trying to combat corruption by being corrupt. This is the way to do it. So I’ll stop there. So that’s really a really nice. I think that’s a really good strategy to get the signal really, really loud and clear to sound. Yeah, I


love that. So

Danielle Kiowski  29:15

that is what I had for the first trope that you know, just the the lack of turning point. So I think you’re already getting at that. And then just to add to the the list of things that I wanted to talk about, in the trope where Randall is giving his story to Watson I think some things are coming through more clearly, I think the execution of the breakdowns isn’t quite right. This is a small tweak. But when he says something like Oh, so it sounds like they knew each other. That was a weird moment for me. because it’s, it sounded like an intentional question. It sounded like a question he shouldn’t really be asking. And, and it sounded polished like he didn’t actually break down. He just responded with his thoughts out loud. So I think thinking about Watson as a more covert actor, who’s only going to stumble if he’s really shocked. So in this is like a very, very concrete thing, like instead of oh, so it sounds like they knew each other, have them say like, they knew each other. Like this very. Yeah. So something like that. And I don’t mean to be like solution arising as I’m coming up with a list of things that I’m adding to, but

Tim Grahl  30:49

no one highlights, it highlights the problems, because so that’s different. What I wrote is different than like, wait, what they knew each other. Right? Right.

Danielle Kiowski  31:00

Right. So it just sounds like a little more. And part of this is because I think it’s uncomfortable breakdowns are always uncomfortable. And it’s uncomfortable to do that in a written medium to make it not polished because we’re used to polishing our sentences. But in dialogue, it can be unpolished, because it’s coming out unbidden. So, so that’s the execution of the breakdown, and then also the nature of the breakdowns. I think there are a couple of things going on there. So it didn’t really ring true to me when he looked. He said it looked like his jaw was broken. And then he switched to oh, well, I just assumed that I think they’re what I’d like to see. So there’s a process that we go through, we have perceptions, and then we have evaluations of those perceptions. So you can think about it as you get evidence, and then you come up with a story to explain the evidence. So what I’d like to see is that he presents a conclusion that he shouldn’t have the evidence for. So Watson has to backtrack and say, Oh, you shouldn’t have had the evidence. So if he says it looked like he’s saying, I had this piece of evidence, Watson saying you shouldn’t have had that piece of evidence. And he’s saying, I was wrong. I didn’t. And so there’s, he loses that plausible deniability, like in the in eyewitness. They can go on together with the fiction. That Struthers was telling the whole truth, because they’re operating in sync together. And so here, you lose that because of that, because it’s he presents that evidence rather than a conclusion. Like he was definitely dead, or something like that. And the final thing here is that your story, your backstory, is a lot more complex than the one and eyewitness. So you know, you have paragraphs here to explain what this nature of the blackmail was. And we can sum it up with Struthers was having an affair with the lieutenant’s wife. So I think the reason that I bring that up, is I think it’s great. I think it’s very powerful. But I think we need to build in more breakdowns than we had in eyewitness necessarily. And the one that I’m thinking about is that I don’t get that Wilson was there using Randall services as a prostitute. And I don’t think that it needs to be super on the nose. But I was envisioning maybe another moment where with Watson challenging him and saying, Hey, like, it’s dark, you said you were in this bush? How do you think that you’re going to identify the sky? Viewer far away? You know? And then he could and maybe, I don’t know, maybe he admits that he’s seen the sky around before and that’s why he’s worried about him coming, you know, something like that. But something to explain something to give that little bit of a hint that they do know each other separate from this interaction. So those are the the points that I have for that middle section. And then that’s all going to pay off at the end. So there I think it really is just, it’s part of it is just downstream stuff. Like we have to know that Wilson is coming in because of something that Dawson did. We have to understand why he’s there. And then I just my I like the changes that we talked about with the first trope being reflected in that. So I like a lot of it. What I don’t know like as much like the the one quibble that I have with it is him seeing the picture. And then not running until Wilson comes in like, it just seems like it’s too much. Because he gets that double revelation. So I just think the picture is something that you can cut and kind of streamline it so that he has a smoother path to understanding what actually happened. So that’s my, my list of things.

Tim Grahl  35:34

Yeah, I didn’t quite understand the part where you said, he said something and then has to backtrack, then this is the heart this, this is the part that gets like, kept having trouble figuring out how to reveal that he was close to the body, and therefore knew that Barnes was alive when he left without going so far as to basically making Watson upset, like breaking Watson down to the point that he arrest him than in there for that crime. While also, like now in what you’re saying, keep them basically on the same team, in this fiction that Watson understands he’s unraveling, while at the same time showing that Watson breaks down when he says this. So that is a lot that I mean, this this one piece, I feel like the other the other feedback I like a lot in this, it goes along with what we’ve kind of been doing the last couple of weeks is I think I use this metaphor before when like I was helping my, my younger son, when he was really young, clean up his room full of toys, we would like pile stuff together, because it made it easier to clean up. So I feel like we’re still kind of getting stuff in a pile. This one, I just can’t wrap my head around what I’m supposed to do with it, because I feel like I’m either too on the nose. Or it’s too vague. I feel like that’s what I you know, I either do too, and you’re like, Oh, that’s too much or giving too much information. And then I swing the other way. And it’s like, well, you know, I’m not getting the signal. I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. You know, it’s not in there. And then now the added, like keeping them on the same page. I’m just like, really stuck on how to like, hit all of those notes. In 15, I

Shawn Coyne  37:43

jump in. I have I have some thoughts about that. If you take a look at the beat map, in the interaction between Struthers and capelli, you’ll notice that capelli is very flat. And the flatness is a technique that one uses to get people to tell more than they wish. So instead of things like I appreciate you coming in, that took a lot of courage. Instead you say, Huh, what, what happened next, and then. So and then, as Daniel said, the breakdown that Watson would have would be the slip out of a conclusion that his mind has has drawn to, and then that triggers a counter reaction from Randall. So that’s a very long winded way of saying, take a look at the way capelli does the interview versus the way Watson does the interview and see the differences between the strike the tactics that they use? So Watson isn’t going to sort of he’s just gonna He’s there to collect the facts. He’s literally playing judge, and then and then. And then what did you do? Hmm, is that so? He’s not going to ask about the qualia. And he’s not going to make judgments about the motivations or the intentions of the witness. He’s just wants to hear the step by step, recitation of the story, and then he’s going to sift through that story and find the bullshit. And when he finds the bullshit, he will confront the witness with simple statements of declaration. Hold on a second. No, Randall No way. That’s not what I was saying at all. I’m just asking the questions they tell me to ask. He’s not going to apologize. He’s a detective. He’s not gonna kiss this guy’s ass, he might be a killer. And then what happened? We’re gonna go through this a number of times. Take your time, can I get you something? Because we’re gonna go through this a number of times. And then what happened? Hmm. And then yes. So that’s the way to get someone to to reveal the truth. Because holding the story, under such cognitive dissonance that Randall has it’s like, and not getting not getting the Oh, you’re so courageous for coming in here is going to start to upset Randall because he’s expecting those pets in order to keep going. And when he doesn’t receive them, he gets more and more uncomfortable. And so when he is getting given a counterfactual, you saw his job. Or you saw his job, his jaw was broken. That’s a declaration his jaw was, well, I didn’t really see it. Oh, but his jaw was broken. And without saying, How could you see his jaw broken? That might be helpful to clarify that. And then when you look at the beat map that we did for eyewitness you’ll see capelli is like wherever. Right? Right. Right. Right. Whereas Struthers is like, wow. So it’s this solicitation of hard signal. And it’s done through very, very mechanized mechanical and then and then and then that. So that is the technique that we use to test someone. So when you’re when your little kid comes in, and, you know, so tell me what happened at at the playground. And then what happened? Because you can’t, they’re, they’re gonna make up a lie, especially if they got in a fight. And they were the ones who started the fight. Right? They’re going to they’re going to do a bunch of stuff, and then they’re gonna step in a trap. So you go, and then what did they say? They said, And did anybody else hear you say that, you know, you anyway. So that might be that might be helpful to to get that, you know, up and down of the witness versus the the sort of micro changes of the the interrogator.

Danielle Kiowski  42:52

I’d like to explain a little more about what I meant by the the evidence and the conclusions also in this moment. So when he says his jaw was broken, like I said, this is, this is what I would put in the realm of evidence. So what I’m imagining is, I’m Randall, I see this attack happen. I go over to Barnes, I leaned down, I see, oh, man, this guy’s face is a mess. I’m scared now. Because it’s really traumatizing to see people who have disfiguring injuries, right? We don’t like to see faces that don’t look like faces. So I’m freaking out. But I’m a good guy. At heart. I’m like, I want to figure out, you know, if I can help this guy, my hands are shaking. I feel like I’m gonna throw up. So I kneel down next to the sky. And I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I feel like Does he have a pulse? He’s got all this blood on him. My hands are shaking. I can’t really feel. I think he doesn’t have a pulse. I think I need to get out of here. So you know, and now that I’m in this moment, I’m like, do I do I grab the phone and the badge? And the wallet? Maybe I don’t like maybe maybe the wallet fell on the ground? And I grabbed that. But like, do I want to stick my hands in this guy’s pockets? I do not. Because I’m not used to this kind of trauma. Right? This is what’s breaking him. But his physical state, his emotional reaction to seeing the sky in the state doesn’t give him what he needs to make the right determination. So I go, I see this. I do what I can. But I can’t stand being in the situation. And I think, okay, he’s dead. I’m leaving. I can’t do anything else. So, when I tell Watson, something, what I’m envisioning is if I tell Watson look, he wasn’t breathing, or he didn’t have a pulse or not, he didn’t have a pulse. That’s evidence but like, he was dead, right? That’s my conclusion. That’s where I got to at the end of this. Watson’s a smart guy, and he’s a detective. So he’s going to back propagate, taking what I said, he’s going to do what I just did there, he’s going to say, Okay, what is the process? Through which Watson through which Randall could make such a claim? What pieces of evidence? Would he have to have? To come to the conclusion? That barns was dead? And he’s going to know, with the story, you told me, there was no way that you could actually make that determination. And so I’m even I’m, well, and I think that’s the first part of it is that he presents this conclusion that requires that detective work. If Watson if Watson challenges it even subtly, like, if he says something like, yeah, he, he wasn’t. I think this is a good opportunity for something like the I didn’t see stubbornness. In his eyes, I saw fear. Like if he says, I really thought he was. Right now there’s a different backpropagation. Oh, that whole thing, that whole process of the trauma like that. Now, I’m saying I did my best, right. And I’m not telling you that I went up and touch the body. But I am telling you that. And so that’s kind of what I’m envisioning for that is that he has to have some way of figuring out Randles trustworthiness in that moment, so that they can remain on the same team. Because yeah, if and know what’s happening here is we’re going into energy, we’re going into the emotional connection between these two avatars, because if you stay on the informational level, yeah, they’re gonna hate each other. And Randall is going to get arrested. So it has to be deeper than that. It has to be multisensory. And it has to be about that connection on a sub verbal level, that lets Watson know, this guy’s okay. So this is my simulation of what would happen in that moment. And it doesn’t have to be exactly like that. That’s just what I’m imagining, as I think about the energy that that moment needs. So anything that creates that same sort of an energetic interaction between them can fulfill what needs to happen in that moment.

Shawn Coyne  47:35

Yeah, that’s, that’s good. I think that’s a really helpful way of you. It’s, it’s, it’s what Leslie and what’s what we always say, you know, run the simulation. And think to yourself, I wonder what it would be like to witness that. And then to see a disfigured face. Oh, boy, that, no, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t know the person to see someone like that. And of course, you’re gonna want to run, you want to get away from that. And so Watson is a pro is a detective, he knows how these things work. And so when Randall says, I really thought he was then Watson would be like, gotcha, you ran. It’s terrifying. And then that moment, when Watson says, Okay, then, you know, or something. It’s, it’s,


it’s, it’s,

Shawn Coyne  48:48

it’s a connection, as, as Daniel says, at an emotional level between two human beings. And one guy is saying to the other guy, I failed this guy. I was terrified, and I don’t know what to do. And that’s why I’m here. And I hope you can help me and you can help your friend who is dead. That is what the message the energy will transfer with, with the right kind of now, how do you do that? Well, it’s someone who’s breaking down who makes a confession. I really thought it was dead. I didn’t know he was alive. And he believes him. Even though he knows that the guy left him for dead, but he can understand. And that’s just that’s just a set it’s best. It’s when the relationship is built up on trust that the one person say, I can understand that and that makes sense to me. And that’s That’s adjust situation, you did have to protect yourself in that situation. And it’s natural. That is adjust relationship. And if you can get that, that’s justice. And crime is about justice. So remember, it’s always we get in our minds and we go, Oh my gosh, what is the corruption? Where is the justice? And it’s about relationships? Is this a trustworthy person who did their best under terrible circumstances? Did they do the right thing? By coming in? Yes, they did. Are they going to enable the person who perpetrated this to be to get in trouble? Yes, they are. Should they suffer any more than they’ve already suffered? No, they should not. In fact, they’re haunted. And that is the beauty of Watson as the Inquisitor, and also the judge, and also the one bringing more justice into the world. Why? Because he’s a just person who who would who appreciates the relationship. So remember, what are we talking about at the very bottom of the story, build up, break down, build up, break down, fill it up and break down of what the binds of human interaction. And justice is when the buildups strengthen so that we can have interpersonal experiences that are meaningful. And so what Randall receives in that moment, if you pull it off, and I think you will, what he will receive is a connection with another human being saying, Well, what you went through was really difficult. And I’m sorry for it. And I’m not going to blame you for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not just for me to do that. So justice is about just relationships, strong relationships that are bound in shared values. And I share your value that the guy who did this should suffer, he should pay the price. That’s a shared value. The relationship is now really tight. It’s trustworthy. Watson now trusts Randall Randall now trusts Watson. And that’s why they know exactly what they’re doing. When When Watson goes, here’s 10 bucks, buddy split scram. And then Randall says, like, Thank you, I trust that you will get this son of a bitch behind bars. And now I’m going to leave and Good day, sir. Thank you. So that is, that’s really, really good. Because it’s about relationship at the bottom. It’s not this heady stuff. Is the relationship stronger at the end of this scene between Randall and Watson or is it not? It needs to be really strong at the end. And the way that happens is through the the process that Danielle just described. So and that’s how Ed McBain scene works. Right? When Capella is like, Okay, then. Yeah, I don’t know why he left. Right. He doesn’t stop Struthers he lets him go. And that is the signal to the audience that capelli has made a judgement. And he is a just judge.

Leslie Watts  53:53

I had a couple of thoughts kind of along these lines that we want to we want to look for as as you’re as you’re making these adjustments and one of the things is that we have that there’s that moment when when Watson recognizes in Randall that he’s not wasting his time that he has that he has seen it right so that goes with that moment in I witness. When capelli says no this guy I looked in his eyes or can’t remember the line exactly. But I didn’t I saw fear. Right I didn’t see stubbornness I saw a fear. So this is that’s part of when when the detective is is making a decision about the witness. And so so there’s that and and so to me He already at that point, Watson is not thinking that, that Randall is the perpetrator. He’s just trying to figure out what he knows, he just wants to, you know, get the information. And then I think it’s really important because of the form as a the narrative device of the police report, that he that Watson, as he drafts, the the report doesn’t drop inadvertently dropped Randall in it. Right. So that has to be very, very subtle. So something that you wouldn’t pick up on the first read something that you would pick up on subsequent reads. And in part, I think that’s because this is a very different story from say, Murder on the Orient Express. In in that story, poro is overtly weighing justice, right. And we know how that we know the scenario, and the scenario is not being hidden, it’s not very, it’s not subtle at all. And so in that it’s that same kind of thing that, that I’m judging that these this group of people that they saw justice done, and that to report them would be unjust. So I’m not going to do that. So that’s what Paul row is deciding. So essentially, here, we have Watson making reaching the same conclusion that whatever Randall did, and was not is not worthy of that. And so we just need to recognize that the because of the narrative device being what it is, we just need to make sure that Randall doesn’t, I mean, excuse Yeah, that Randall doesn’t get implicated accidentally. And I think one of the ways that might one thing that may help, as you’re looking at these is to look at the tropes. And what they’re what each one is, is needing to accomplish. And in terms of right, there’s, there’s, there are goals, and there are essential tactics, there’s the micro strategy through which the avatars are trying to achieve their goals. And then there’s the outcome, does it you know, does it work out? Or does it not work out, and we also listed the, you know, the value, the value shifts on the surface above the surface beyond the surface, and then we have the essential features. And so those, that’s another way to check that you’re iterating, the stories pattern, or for you to make a decision at a you know, at a certain point, I’m going to depart from the pattern, but it still works, the story still works as a unit, because it’s still accomplishing these kinds of things. So I think that, you know, going back to what I was saying is, like, really checking the hierarchy of checking things along these lines, includes looking at the, the narrative device, and how are we illuminating Sam’s problem with each, you know, with each adjustment, and then how we’re fulfilling the functions of the tropes in order to really enact that on the page.

Shawn Coyne  58:48

Okay, Tim, so it’s, it’s been take a little bit of a beating this week.


But in a good way, in a good way. Because these are, these are very specific,

Shawn Coyne  59:00

very specific points. So for next week, I think we might want to take one of these tropes, and really nail it instead of asking you to do three. So if you I would suggest that you do a revision to the very first trope and execute the brilliant idea that you had based upon Danielle’s commentary about switching out the briber. And then and see and also, because we’re starting at the very beginning, really, really take to heart Lesley’s very crucial point about the narrative device. We haven’t really slammed you for this yet. But when you’re using qualified language, it’s gotta be super, super specific and important to use it. Otherwise, you don’t qualify, you just give them the facts. And you want to use very simple verbs and sentence structures. So had seen a had seen saw a murder, or right, so you want to make it very clean, clear, non disputable, decorative, so that anyone who reads this report at the end of the report is going to be like, Oh, wow, we got some dirt, we got a couple of bad fish in this pond. And we got to take care of the health. So those two things I would highlight very strongly. So that’s that first trope, passing off. Randall from Dawson to Watson. And really taking a look at those, that narrative device. So unless Leslie or Danielle disagree, I think that would be a good thing. Because I tackling all three of these, you’re going to do it. But let’s take it one step at a time. Let’s nail the first one first, and then we can go to the second.

Tim Grahl  1:01:24

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 so you don’t miss anything happening in the Story Grid Universe. Along with that, I recommend checking out our YouTube channel. We’ve been putting up a lot of great content there, including several videos, looking at individual genres. So we’ve done genres like the performance genre loves genre, action, genre, crime genre, and we’re going to continue working through there. So make sure you head over to YouTube, and subscribe to our channel. If you’re interested in any of our Story Grid titles, you can find those story grid.com/books. And as always, if you love the show and want to support the show, a really great way to do that is just tell other authors about the show. So if you’re in a Facebook group, or you’re in any kind of a writing circle, make sure they all know about the podcasts and that they’re listening. Along with that you can go to Apple podcasts and leave us a rating and review. Thanks for listening, as always, and being a part of our community here at Story Grid. 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.