Internal Genres Part 3: Conventions and Obligatory Scenes

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The Long Way Round

Over the last few months, we’ve been exploring the Internal Genres, an adventure that’s only increased the farther and deeper we go.

When we set out from the shore, our desired destination was to understand the what makes each Internal Genre unique, how they are different, and how they are connected. So we (and our clients) can execute them well.

We didn’t have an exact route, but a collection of maps drawn throughout the ages: the Story Grid, Friedman’s Framework, and the Hero’s Journey, among others.

Through our exploration in Part 1 and Part 2, we confirmed that Genres aren’t a random list of rigid rules, but the sum total of a specific change experience. They really do have specific distinctions and that is what makes them meaningful.

We were certain the next leg of the journey was Obligatory Scenes (and it is, sort of) but we were in for a surprising but inevitable discovery.

So grab your Story Grid Goggles (patent pending) because it’s time to get out of the boat. A deeper understanding and appreciation of Story, and the Story Grid methodology, awaits.

Where We’ve Been

First we looked at internal genres from the perspective of  Friedman’s Framework. We wanted to distinguish among the three main internal genres and twelve subgenres because they can be confusing. From the work of literary critic Norman Friedman and studying twelve Masterworks, we learned that not every character is capable of every internal genre.

More specifically, we found that each subgenre creates a unique, identifiable pattern that provides the experience and emotion a reader expects. The pattern includes these elements:

  • The right kind of protagonist with a specific combination of moral character and sophistication of thought.
  • The protagonist is exposed to specific external circumstances, including opportunities, challenges, and mentors.
  • The external circumstances produce a specific kind of change for the protagonist so that they are better or worse off than they were at the beginning of the story.

From these elements, we can draft a cause and effect statement that describes the essence or pattern of a satisfying story readers recognize and draw meaning from, though they may not be conscious of it.

In our next post, we looked at how to create the pattern and execute the arc of the cause and effect statement across an entire story? We explained that story events and turning points shift specific Life Values from the beginning of the Story to the end.

Everything we covered in Internal Genres part 1 and part 2 relates to the first of the Editor’s Six Core Questions: What’s the genre? In this context, we mean the Content Genre leaf of the Story Grid Five Leaf Clover.

Friedman’s Framework describes the specific change to the specific protagonist that answers that question for the internal genre. Once you determine the genre, you’ll know the Life Value at Stake for the pattern. To create the arc that represents the pattern, the Life Value must change along the spectrum in a specific direction and incrementally through story events.

Those story events are the subject of the second of the Editor’s Six Core Questions: What are the conventions and obligatory scenes for the global genre?

Writers want to tell stories that work, ones that resonate with readers and meet their expectations. Shawn Coyne tells us that reader expectations are set up by the genre conventions and we pay them off by executing and innovating the obligatory scenes of the global genre. Once writers hear that there are obligatory scenes for the story they want to tell, they immediately want to know what they are. That’s only natural.

But knowing what the obligatory scenes for your genre are without understanding where they come from and what they’re meant to accomplish won’t necessarily give you everything you need to tell a satisfying story that meets reader expectations. So providing these must-have scenes, without more, can actually be counterproductive. In this post, we’ll provide a foundation to help you better understand them so you can tell better Stories.

To chart our course to the unknown, we start in familiar territory, with what we already know.

Why do we tell stories?

Stories aren’t just fun and entertaining, they are essential for survival. It could be a simple story that tells us which mushrooms are safe to eat, or a more complex story about the dangers of abandoning our moral compass while attempting to rise within society.

Storytelling is inherently human.

As Shawn says, the most dastardly villain we face is our state of being.

No, it’s not specifically “outer space” or “a rock” or “a snowstorm.” It’s the implacable foe that each and every one of us stares down and then retreats from every single conscious moment of our lives.

We know very little about what makes the world go around. Physically or spiritually. Many of us spend our lives searching for some kind of answers to the deep questions that plague us all. 

If we can never know for sure what makes the world go around, why do we try? Because it often makes things better. Stories allow us to make sense of the world, even if our understanding will never be complete.

As child psychiatrist Daniel Siegel explains in Parenting from the Inside Out,

Stories are the way we make sense out of the events of our lives. Individually and collectively we tell stories in order to understand what has happened to us and to create meaning from those experiences. Storytelling is fundamental to all human cultures, and our shared stories create a connection to others that builds a sense of belonging to a particular community. The stories of a particular culture shape how its members perceive the world. In this way, stories both are created by us and shape who are. For these reasons, stories are central to both individual and collective human experience.

For as long as humanity has existed, we’ve told prescriptive (do this) and cautionary (don’t do that) tales to bring order to a chaotic and ever-changing world. Though they have changed mediums–from the oral tradition to hieroglyphs, papyrus to the printing press, and now in the digital age–stories always have and always will be a means for helping us cope. Because change is always hard, even when it’s for our own good.

But why stories specifically? Why the whole beginning, middle, end thing? Why not simply pass on unadulterated information?

Because unadulterated information is easily forgotten.

Our working memory has limited carrying capacity, a mere three to five items (good luck with those mushrooms) so without stories, we’d be dead.

Stories transform bare facts into patterns that our subconscious minds can recognize–and remember. A case in point is how memory champions use loci (or mind palaces) to remember loads of information. They connect the facts to Stories.

For a more practical application, consider constellations. A night sky full of stars is beautiful, but it becomes useful and infused with meaning when we connect them to form images, and even more so when we connect those images to Stories.

Before there were proper calendars people had no way of determining when to sow, or harvest except by the stars. Constellations made the patterns of the stars easy to remember. The ancient peoples knew for example that when the constellation Orion started to be fully visible winter was coming soon. Or they could look at the Summer Triangle to know when Summer or Spring were coming as well. The stars allowed farmers to plan ahead and form agriculture, and constellations made it easier to recognize and interpret the patterns in the sky.

Stories are a human pattern imposed on life circumstances to convey information and meaning and help us make sense of and deal with a changing world we can’t control.

People like Aristotle, critics R.S. Crane and Norman Friedman, writers like Robert McKee, and editors like Shawn Coyne study these patterns closely. Their work helps us distinguish one pattern or form from another and check our work for the necessary ingredients before sharing it with our readers.

That’s what stories are meant to do, but how do they do it?

Cause and Effect

Norman Friedman was a literary theorist and critic (a story nerd’s story nerd). His articles are full of dense, academic sentences that you might have to reread a few times to comprehend what he’s saying, but treasures within are worth the effort. One of his articles that’s been particularly useful for us is “Forms of the Plot.”

Friedman wanted to understand what makes one Story different from another—beyond a recitation of specific facts. After all, the same circumstances, characters, and events can give rise to a wide range of vastly different stories.

He proves the point with these simple story events: “protagonist meets loved one, wins loved one, loses loved one.” These story events are brought to life within the covers of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Sons and Lovers, The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, and 1984, and each one seems worlds apart from the others.

Circumstances, characters, and events do distinguish story patterns, but not alone. It’s their relationship of these elements to the Story as a whole that produces the patterns of meaning we call plots. The plot form consists of these elements.

  • The right kind of protagonist with a specific combination of moral character and sophistication of thought.
  • The protagonist is exposed to specific external circumstances, including opportunities, challenges, and mentors.
  • The external circumstances produce a specific kind of change for the protagonist so that they are better or worse off than they were at the beginning of the story.

There is an additional piece that comes from Friedman’s framework that we haven’t emphasized, and we mention it now because it’s relevant to the obligatory scenes and conventions: The pattern or form that Friedman outlines produces “a sequence of imaginative response in the reader.” In other words, the pattern of story events evoke certain emotional responses in the person who reads it. We’ll come back to this in a bit.

For now, let’s look at a concise statement of the elements and relationships of plot form:

  • A certain kind of protagonist with a specific combination of moral character and sophistication of thought who is exposed to specific external circumstances, including opportunities, challenges, and mentors, changes in a particular way so that they are better or worse off than they are at the beginning of the story.

We call this Friedman’s Framework, a cause and effect statement that identifies a specific pattern that becomes the form of the plot or the content of the story. We mentioned these statements in our first post on internal genres and applied them to twelve examples, one from each of the internal content genres.


We’ll use the Worldview-Maturation content genre to show the cause and effect statement in action. Here’s the typical statement for the genre:

  • When a sympathetic protagonist, with naive black-and-white views of the world and mistakenly conceived goals, experiences a loss or trial that shows them the world is multi-layered and imperfect, they embrace better-suited goals and actions.

This is how the statement applies to our Worldview Maturation movie example, Saturday Night Fever:

  • When Tony Manero, a talented dancer with racist and sexist views who mocks planning for the future, meets a woman with positive ambition and witnesses painful events that disrupt his narrow views, he becomes dissatisfied with his life in Brooklyn and chooses to grow up beyond Saturday night.

The elements (specific character, circumstances, and change) and their relationships to the entire Story create the cause and effect pattern we use to create a concise statement that is the main lesson of the Story—the primary takeaway. In the Story Grid world, this becomes the Controlling Idea/Theme, which is the subject of the fifth of the Editor’s Six Core Questions.

Now we have a concise and clear statement of the content genre or plot pattern, and that is wonderful, but how is it useful?

Genre Conventions

From the elements of the cause and effect statements that describe the particular type of protagonist and their circumstances (and a little mental elbow grease), we can find the Genre Conventions, which Shawn tells us are specific requirements concerning the story’s cast of characters, setting, or methods of moving the plot forward.”

Let’s look at the Worldview Maturation genre and our masterwork example again to understand the connections:

What cast of characters is required?

  • Type of protagonist: This convention comes directly from the cause and effect statement: a sympathetic protagonist, with naive black-and-white views of the world and mistakenly conceived goals.
    • Tony Manero is a talented dancer with racist and sexist views who mocks planning for the future.
  • Shapeshifters as hypocrites: This convention comes from masterwork studies and an understanding of the plot form. The character(s) in this role prompts cognitive dissonance: They say one thing and do another, which upsets the protagonist’s black-and-white worldview.
    • Frank Manero (Tony’s brother) is a Catholic priest and the favorite of the family, but he leaves the Church because he was living a lie. Frank tells Tony the only faith he had was in his parents’ dream of his becoming a priest.
    • Stephanie Mangano (Tony’s dance partner) acts as if she is more mature than Tony and living a successful and put-together life in Manhattan. But she actually struggles with the transition, needs help, and often does not know what to do at work.
    • The disco club holds an annual competition for the best dancing couple, but Tony’s friends there award the prize to Tony and Stephanie, even though a Puerto Rican couple were clearly the best dancers.
  • Strong mentor: This convention we find from examining masterworks and real life. If you’re going to metabolize new information and adopt a new understanding of the world, you need someone who is more sophisticated than you to help you make sense of the chaos of cognitive dissonance. The character(s) in this role gives the protagonist the timely guidance they need to see the truth.
    • Stephanie Mangano (Tony’s dance partner) is the initial catalyst to force Tony to think differently about his life and imagine and strive for a life beyond “the neighborhood.”
    • Frank Manero (Tony’s brother) begins living a more honest life and encourages Tony to think for himself and pursue his dreams, not just what “they” want to you to do.

What setting is required?

  • Big Social Problem as Subtext: This convention creates the opportunity for the protagonist to observe their black-and-white thinking. It’s connected to the truth the protagonist is unable to see.
    • In Brooklyn in 1976, racism and misogyny are common. Racial slurs are used in everyday speech by Tony and his friends. The opening sequence shows Tony ogling women on the street, and for Tony’s friends, Saturday nights at the disco include stealing away to the backseat with a woman they’ve just met. Tony’s father doesn’t let Tony clear the table, calling it women’s work.

What methods are required to move the plot forward?

  • Loss or trial that shows the world is multilayered and imperfect: Like the shapeshifter, the loss or trial creates cognitive dissonance. Life is not going the way the character expected. Even if the world seems more favorable to the protagonist, the change is uncomfortable.
    • Tony struggles with his parents and the way they view him versus the way they view his brother. But when Frank quits the church, that opens up the possibility that Tony could be more than how his parents think of him. He says, “If you’re not so good, then maybe I ain’t so bad.”
  • A Clear Point of No Return: This is the moment when the Protagonist knows they can never go back to the way things used to be. Their previous worldview is shattered. They can’t unsee the new truth. (They still have to make a choice about what to do with this more nuanced worldview, but they have been made aware.)
    • Losing his friend Bobby on the bridge (after already being shook up from unfairly winning the dance competition) is the final straw for Tony. At this moment, he becomes fully aware of what his life and the neighborhood truly are. He leaves and rides the subway all night, arriving in Manhattan the next morning, and asks for Stephanie’s help in starting a new life.
  • Win-but-lose or lose-but-win bittersweet ending: All change, even when it’s for the better, is a loss. To gain sophistication, we must drop our old worldview, which provides a sense of comfort or security. Growing up ain’t easy. It’s a net gain, but it costs you something to advance to the next level in the hierarchy of needs.
    • Tony gains a higher understanding of the world when he recognizes his life and neighborhood for what it truly is. This knowledge forces him to leave behind his family, friends, and Saturday nights at the disco.

Given who Tony is, and the circumstances he experiences, the audience expects that he will realize there is more to life than the here and now and his next opportunity to dance. He works hard and practices, and we know he can pursue a larger vision for himself. When he acts on his new awareness, we feel a form of righteous satisfaction.

The genre conventions set up the particular change in the protagonist, but also as we mentioned earlier, create reader expectations and emotions that must be paid off. (The Style and Reality Genres for your Story may require additional conventions.)  

Paying Off the Reader’s Expectations Begins with the Specific Change

Knowing what the conventions are for the genre and that they lead to the reader’s expectations is really useful information. But how do you execute the payoff of that setup?

To find out, we return to Friedman’s Cause and Effect Statements. Remember, that tells us that the elements are the specific protagonist, in specific circumstances, experiencing a specific change.

The elements in the statement that describe the specific change the protagonist undergoes from beginning to end gives us the Genre Life Value Shifts, which Shawn tells us are “human experiences that can shift in quality from positive to negative or negative to positive moment to moment.”

As we explained in our earlier post, genre life value shifts occur along a continuum. Each genre has a typical life value range that includes the following:

  • Positive value (e.g., SOPHISTICATION)
  • Negative value that expresses the opposite (e.g., NAIVETE)

The life value spectrum contains two other main points:

  • Contrary value, which falls between the positive and negative values (e.g., COGNITIVE DISSONANCE)
  • Negation of the Negation, which is worse than the negative (e.g., NAÏVETÉ MASKED AS SOPHISTICATION)

When these points are combined, they represent a full value spectrum: Negation of the Negation to Negative to Contrary to Positive.

From the cause and effect statement, we can tell that the Worldview Maturation protagonist moves from naive, black-and-white views of the world to understanding that the world is multilayered and imperfect. From that statement, we get the primary negative and positive life values, NAIVETE and SOPHISTICATION.

  • In Saturday Night Fever, Tony begins at NAIVETE MASKED AS SOPHISTICATION and ends at SOPHISTICATION.

This cause and effect statement also gives us the polarity change or Value Valence Change, which is the judgment we assign to the live value shift. The life value could be characterized as a shift from good to bad (+/-), bad to good (-/+), good to great (+/++), or bad to worse (-/–).

Generally speaking, the Worldview Maturation protagonist begins with some form of NAÏVETÉ and moves to SOPHISTICATION, which is movement from the negative or double negative value to a positive one.

  • In Saturday Night Fever, Tony’s life value moves from the negation of the negation to positive (–/+).

Understanding the specific change, brings us to the sequential flow of events that bring about the change, in other words the obligatory scenes.

Sequential Flow of Events

Obligatory Scenes  are “the must-have elements to pay off the raised expectations of those conventions.” More specifically, you could say they are “key events, decisions, and discoveries … that move the protagonist along on her/his journey.” (Definition from Kim Hudson in The Virgin’s Promise).

How do you know which key moments are really necessary? Chances are you can feel them because these key moments will evoke emotional reactions in the reader. These are the moments that matter. But if you want to get more specific, and we know you do, let’s consider again what stories are about. 

Stories are about change.

As we’ve said before, individuals (and societies) don’t embrace change.  

The bottom line with change (and change is the substance of Story) is that it requires loss. Even when change is positive, we lose something of ourselves coping with its effects. Lottery winners are a great example of the monumental effect of positive change.

So the key events, decisions, and discoveries of the plot should be ones that would force a protagonist to accept (if not embrace) change—or suffer the resulting consequences. But things get a bit tricky here, so we’re moving through this slowly.

Story is made up of structure and content, which you could also think of as a container and its contents.

The content elements of the Story include the ingredients or plot. The Friedman article we’ve referenced focuses on plot.

The structural elements of the Story are often called story form, which can be confusing. For this discussion, we’ll refer to structural and content elements and capitalize Story when we’re referring to the union of content and structure.

Among other things, the structural elements include the Five Commandments of Storytelling and the units of Story. The scenes that create the structure of the Story could be the steps in the Hero’s Journey, the Kubler-Ross change curve, or a mini-plot structure. These scenes are related to the Structure Leaf of the Five Leaf Genre Clover.

None of the elements exist in a vacuum, though, and we need to be mindful of the relationships between structural and content elements. They are different but closely related. (Shawn notes that understanding this will save us from much pain later on, which we can confirm.)

Here’s an example of the relationships between content and structure. As we mentioned earlier, we get the life value shift and value valence change from the specific change in Friedman’s cause and effect statement. These tell us what the content genre is.

Knowing those elements, we can find the specific moment in the Story when the life value actually shifts from one state to another. That moment is the Turning Point, which is the progressive complication that forces the dilemma or Crisis Question.

The life value shift, polarity change, and turning point together help us spot whether the Five Commandments of Storytelling are working.

Genre conventions are content elements or ingredients that set up the particular change in the protagonist and create reader expectations and emotions that must be paid off. The obligatory scenes are the key structural scenes that pay off the reader’s expectations.

Let’s walk through the Obligatory Scenes of the Worldview Maturation genre and our masterwork example.

  • An Inciting opportunity or challenge: The first encounter with someone or something that pokes at the protagonist’s existing black-and-white worldview.
    • Tony complains to the DJ about the salsa music, claiming that “you can’t dance to it,” but then sees Stephanie dancing, clearly proving him wrong.
  • Protagonist refuses to accept the opportunity or challenge to their worldview: The protagonist refuses to acknowledge their NAIVETE (and often NAIVETE MASKED AS SOPHISTICATION) and doubles down on their current way of thinking.
    • Tony’s friend tells him to go ask Stephanie to dance, but he refuses, and later dances with women he doesn’t like at all.
  • Forced to respond, the Protagonist lashes out against the requirement to change their worldview: The protagonist reacts in anger to cognitive dissonance that upsets their worldview.
    • Tony interrupts Stephanie at the dance studio where she is practicing to ask her if she wants to be his partner for the upcoming competition. She doesn’t drop everything she is doing to talk to him so he says, “I heard you’re practicing to a b#tch, is that true?”
  • Protagonist learns what their external Antagonist’s Object of Desire is: The character uses what they learn to adjust their approach to getting what they want.
    • Tony’s parents treat him poorly and wish he was more like his brother, Frank, a Catholic priest who is the pride of the family.
  • Protagonist’s initial strategy to outmaneuver the Antagonist fails: They’ve tried multiple approaches to get what they want (their external object of desire), and they’ve been thwarted each time.
    • Tony and Stephanie win the dance competition because they are the Italian couple from the neighborhood. He refuses to accept this and gives them the trophy and prize money to the Puerto Rican couple, who were clearly the winners.
  • During an All Is Lost moment, Protagonist realizes they must change their black-and-white view of the world to allow for life’s irony.
    • Tony’s friend Bobby acts recklessly on the bridge, despairing about getting his girlfriend pregnant and that Tony didn’t call him like he said he would — Tony had been so caught up with Stephanie and winning the dance competition he didn’t see his friend’s need. Bobby falls from the bridge and is killed.
  • The action moment is when the Protagonist’s gifts are expressed as acceptance of an imperfect world: The protagonist embraces the more nuanced view of life and chooses to act on it.
    • After Bobby’s death, Tony walks away from his friends and leaves Brooklyn. He rides the subway to Stephanie’s apartment and asks for forgiveness and help to start his new life in Manhattan.
  • The protagonist’s loss of innocence is rewarded with a deeper understanding of the universe: This scene pays off the expectation set up by the win-but-lost, lose-but-win convention. The protagonist can’t get something for nothing and must make a sacrifice.
    • Tony’s new worldview forces him to leave the neighborhood, but now he is looking toward the future and expanding what he believes possible for people to be — himself, women, and other races.

Drawing Connections

We tried an exhaustive number of approaches to accurately illustrate how the elements of content and structure relate to one another and create this wonderful thing called Story. This image represents our current understanding of how the individual elements are connected.

Solve for X

When we reached the conventions and obligatory scenes analysis for the Maturation story, we started with the list for the Worldview genre, which might seem like an unfair advantage. But we didn’t rest on our laurels. We tested each one and discussed and debated why it was included. We asked how each item set up or paid off reader expectations in the Story. We also refined the general language to make it very specific to the Maturation subgenre.

Knowing the conventions and obligatory scenes helped, but there is something that helps even more. Almost a year ago, we learned that we’d be attending the Story Grid training in Nashville in September. The five of us who had met at the Love Story Workshop in New York came together every week all summer to discuss a movie from one of the twelve content genres.

The only conventions and obligatory scenes we had at the time were the ones we found in the books, podcast transcripts, and blog posts. We started with what we knew, wrestled with the elements of structure and content, and solved for what we didn’t know. We made mistakes, and still do (we’re still analyzing movies on the Editor Roundtable Podcast), but the summer spent repeatedly stepping into the unknown from the known was a superlative education.   

So we will share the conventions and obligatory scenes we’ve identified in our movie masterworks for each of the internal genres as time permits (check back regularly for additions to the Status, Worldview, Morality cheat sheets). But we understand from our experience that the list without understanding what they are and where they come from will not serve you. If you don’t understand them, your scenes may not hit the emotional notes to provide a satisfying experience and meet the reader’s expectations.

Here’s our advice: Don’t wait for a Story Grid Editor to tell you what the conventions and obligatory scenes are for your story.

Analyzing a Masterwork takes time, and we can’t do every story. The truth is, you’ll gain a greater understanding by taking the long way around.

Start with what you know about the story you want to tell and choose a masterwork that is as close as you can get to it.

  • Identify the type of protagonist you have.
  • Identify their circumstances.
  • Identify the change that takes place from the beginning to the end of the Story.
  • Identify the human life value at stake and how it shifts.
  • Identify the value valence change.
  • Identify the turning point.
  • Identify the most likely conventions.
  • Identify the most likely obligatory scenes.

Once you’ve reviewed your masterwork and have preliminary ideas of the answers to those questions, think about what the same elements might look like in your story. Keep coming back to the masterwork and begin to review others.

Whether you’re talking about Shawn, a Certified Story Grid Editor, or the ghost of Norman Friedman, we’re not the only ones who can figure this out. You can do this. You need to stop fighting the fact that a pattern exists, push through your own cognitive dissonance, and actively seek the answers that you need.

What makes the Story Grid editors special (besides providing an objective perspective when you’re ready to have your work reviewed) is that we invested time and money to study story and plot form, and you can do this too. Studying masterworks is free to any who are willing to do the work.

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About Kimberly Kessler

Kim is obsessed with the internal genres and specializes in helping writers craft authentic character arcs in any setting. Her favorite clients are hungry to learn and bring their full authentic selves to the collaborative process. Nothing is more rewarding than digging in together to uncover the breakthroughs they need. As a novelist and filmmaker, she intersects trauma and grief with humor and love, believing somewhere in the dark is a redemptive perspective on the pain. Bring. On. All. The. Feels. She lives in Washington state with her stand-up comedian husband and three "think they're a comedian" kids. Connect with her at

About Leslie Watts

Leslie Watts is a certified Story Grid editor, writer, and podcaster. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember: from her sixth-grade magazine about cats to writing practice while drafting opinions for an appellate court judge. When the dust settled after her children were born, she launched to help writers unearth the treasure in their manuscripts. She believes writers become better storytellers through practice, and that editors owe a duty of care to help writers with specific and supportive guidance to meet reader expectations and express their unique gifts in the world.
Story Grid 101: The Five First Principles of the Story Grid Methodology
by Shawn Coyne
What are the first principles in writing a story that works? At Story Grid, it’s easy to get distracted by the tools, spreadsheets, commandments, macro lense, micro lense, and on... Read more »
Paperback: $19.99
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Authors Kimberly Kessler and Leslie Watts


Curtis says:

My latest ” Master work” to study was, would you believe, the show entitled “The New Society” May 22, 1965 from the T.V Drama series Gunsmoke. Conventions and Obligatory Scenes are all there. Matt moves from scenes that offered him tension built of doubt and suspicion to the obligatory “all is lost.”As in they were about to hang him. Cognitive dissonance is everywhere to be found. Upon reviewing Calvin Clements, Sr.’s other shows he wrote, he writes Westerns but the underpinning value is that of ambility. He resolved the ambiguity of “The New Society” ( The title was in itself a social commentary on the times) with these lines. Towns person” Well Marshall did you get what you came for?” Marshall Dillion. ” More or less. Sometimes you have to settle for less.” Thanks to you Kimberly and Leslie, I dismantle even old T.V. shows. 🙂

Daniel J. Stutzman says:

I love your articles, ladies. That plot/story form infographic is very useful. Please keep up the good work!

Nicolas Lemieux says:

Great work! I’m impressed with the dept of you analysis. Thank you for this excellent article, and for the whole series on internal genres. It’s outstanding, really. You’ve helped me see a bit more clearly into my own project. I keep sharing with my writer friends, so we can eventually acquire a shared vocabulary.

Meaghan Peters says:

This is a great article about something that I’ve been struggling with in my own story for a long time. After reading this article and trying to fit my story into it I am still struggling. I understand the general concepts but can’t figure out which parts of my story match which parts of the obligatory scenes which means I can’t find out what’s missing. My main genre is a romance plot which each character following their own sub-genre worldview maturation plot (which of course influence each other via the romance plot). I know I have maybe bitten off more than I can chew but it really is the story I want to tell. If the worldview maturation plot is a sub-genre does that mean it would play out differently? Or maybe not all the conventions or obligatory scenes need to be on the page? The feedback from beta-readers is that one of the story lines is clear and satisfying (for the most part) but the other one is vague and has less impact. Any suggestions are much appreciated!!

Miles White says:

I have been looking for this, as I have read Parts I and II, and it was enormously helpful. I’m working with a Worldview/Education Global Story and I think I have worked a lot of the details out by reading the articles. I cannot really think of a Masterwork I should be looking at, but I’m sure there must be one, so I’ll keep looking. Thank you!

Sandy Day says:

So helpful. Thank you so much for writing this. It helps with the Worldview/Maturation anti-love story I’m writing.

The part of Friedman’s framework that asks how the reader feels at the end is so helpful. My reader is relieved that the love story is failing. They’re rooting for the protagonist to come to her senses and dislike her love interest. It’s a lose but win outcome. I feel waaaaay more confident about it.


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