The Middle of the Middle

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[0:00:00.9] TG: Hello and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. I’m your host, Tim Grahl, and I’m the struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining the shortly is Shawn Coyne. He is the creator of Story Grid, the author of the book Story Grid and an editor with over 25 years’ experience.

 

In this episode I keep pushing through my novel to get to the middle of the middle build. It’s been a pretty long slog to get here and I was basically connecting a couple different sections and rewriting a couple of different sections. So Shawn and I step into this and start talking through what worked, what didn’t work and what I need to do next. So you can listen as he goes through my scenes. So let’s jump in and get started.

 

[EPISODE]

 

[0:00:48.6] TG: So Shawn, last week we talked about kind of my big breakthrough on figuring out what my world was, and still feeling really good about that, and you would email me a few days after same kind of feedback, like feeling like I’m on the right track. So that was good. So what I did is I went through and there is the second severing, goes right in the middle of the book and that’s where she’s in the second severing. She’s about to get attacked and then her brother pulls her out and they meet for the first time.

 

So I went back through my notes on those two scenes and there were some kind of [inaudible 0:01:30.5] notes, but otherwise we were pretty happy with those two scenes. So what I did is I wrote two scenes to tie together what I’d written before, and then those two and then cleaned up a bunch of stuff. The whole explanation of the world I just left it in there for you even though some of it I will have to pull out because it won’t be revealed until the end, but I figured I just leave it in so you could take a look at kind of the whole mind dump.

 

So this point I feel like what I’ve given you gets us to the middle of the middle build where she goes into the cave, or whatever it’s called in the Hero’s Journey. She meets her brother and then she comes back and she’s won the severing and that’s kind of where I left it off with what I sent you. So I sent you four scenes. So what are your thoughts?

 

[0:02:20.4] SC: Well, before I get into my thoughts about those specific scenes, I just want to reiterate something from last week, and it basically goes to what I sent you in that email, which is a lot of times — Let’s just start with the basic global idea of what a story is, right? A story is incited by an action or a revelation that propels a question that will end with a surprise, but an inevitable finish. So the question that I get asked a lot, and I’ve always sort of vaguely answered, I think, is how do you do that? How do you create an ending that is surprising but also inevitable? That question is sort of been percolating in my mind for a long time and I’ve attacked it in very different ways, and one of the ways that I’ve looked at story was to look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and I won’t go through it again, because I’ve been through it before. But the Hierarchy of Needs are not — They’re flexible and they’re also meaningful. Sometimes you have one need that is like half-fulfilled and it’s like the gas gauge of needs that I talk about and I’ve written about where I don’t think it’s a hierarchy. I think it’s a gas gauge, and that in any particular moment of time your need for love is at a certain level. It’s being fulfilled at a certain level. Your need for food is being fulfilled at a certain level, etc., etc.

 

But the other thing that I put together about a year ago for the love story seminar was an analysis of where the 12 genres fit in those hierarchy, and the most primal genre of course is the action story, and the action story, in my estimation, then need, the global need in an action story that is at stake, is one of the primal needs. It’s either shelter, water, air, food, reproduction, all those bottom-line things that keep us alive and keep humanity going forward.

 

So when we were always faced with this question in your novel, and now I’m going to try and circle back and explain just how important I think last week’s podcast was. So when we’re looking at your story, you had last September, I think, really nailed down. You know what? This is an action story with a labyrinth plot. So we knew that, and we’ve been working under that assumption. And of course, yes, there is a maturation plot underneath it, but if you had to pinpoint the global genre, it’s action labyrinth.

 

So last week when you said I had this idea that the big, big reveal, the big thing at the end of the story is going to concern food supply. It all came together for me, because what is the primal need on Maslow’s hierarchy? Food. What are action stories about? The primal needs. So the fact that you’re writing an action story and that the big payoff of the story concerns food and starvation is a lock. It perfectly locks together.

 

So at the end of the day, when you finish this novel, we’re hoping that because we are so attuned to what the need is in an action story, that the big payoff that food is behind everything, will be surprising because the entire story is a labyrinth of Jesse trying to just negotiate this edifice that at the end when it turns out that all of this is about food supplies will hopefully, to the reader, tumble back to them and go, “Oh my gosh! Why didn’t I see that from the beginning?” and it’ll be surprising, but inevitable.

 

So I think last week’s thing was a really great trick and something that other writers can use. So if your story is a love story, at the very end of the story, the idea of whether or not the person or the hero and heroine, or if it’s a gay love story, the two men or two women or whatever, whether or not they come together, is all going to be whether or not they can accept their gas gauge level of love or not.

 

So anyway, I thought that was a really great way of explaining how do you make sure that your ending is both surprising and inevitable. The surprising part is going to be within the secondary genre that you choose or the level of your global genres plot pointing, but the inevitability will come from the entire plot resting upon a particular need, and all those needs are defined in the gas gauge of needs, which is on the story good website.

 

So anyway, I think last week was a big deal because now knowing that the big revelation is, “The reason why there’s a grid, there’s a reason why there’s a tyranny. The reason why all of these —” People go and put a plug in their head all the time. The reason is there’s not enough food. And if we tear down the structures that keep people tame and ripping each other apart, the entire story, the entire world is going to face some really difficult challenges. So that’s a great ending for the first book in a trilogy.

 

So now your questions are about these particular scenes. So what you have to do in the micro plot in the scene-by-scene stuff is to maintain the interest from scene to scene of the reader. So solving the big problems is a great thing, but the real difficulty is constantly zigging when the reader thinks your sagging, creating challenges for your protagonist that are progressively complicating so that you’re moving in a really interesting, fascinating way up to these big moments within the story.

 

So what I liked in these four scenes is that you were working towards that goal. What is a little bit challenging is that — And I know that this is an early draft, is that they’re not clicking in the way that they can. So in the scene where they’re getting their propaganda fix each week, in that scene, when the revelation comes that 83 has been interviewed and taped for their success winning the threshing the last time, for me it didn’t have the big oomph that it should. So I think it could work if you don’t have a lot of the peripheral stuff going around it. Once 83 comes on the screen, then Jesse has to do something, she just leaves the room. She doesn’t talk about leaving the room, she just does, and she goes to find Henry. Once she finds Henry — When Henry slaps her, that doesn’t work. I know I’m talking in real specificity now, but the movement of these scenes is working and the effort is in the right direction, but you need to think about is this a revelation turning point? Is this an active turning point?

 

So the revelation of the first scene is when 83 is discovered to be in that film, and the only one who knows who 83 is is Jesse. So when that revelation occurs, she has a best bad choice situation. She’s either going to stay in the audience and keep her mouth shut and listen to what 83 says or she’s going to leave the room. Why would she leave the room during the thing? Because she’s just stunned that 83 was part of the team?

 

[0:10:52.7] TG: Yeah, I guess in my thought it was — In my head, she was stunned and she was sick of nobody telling her what was going on. So because she was there, and then if she was there, that means Henry knew she was there, knew 83 was there, but hadn’t ever told her. She’s trying to figure out what’s actually going on.

 

[0:11:19.6] SC: Okay.

 

[0:11:19.8] TG: And so that’s why I thought she would like get up and basically thinking, “I’m going to go get some answers.”

 

[0:11:27.5] SC: And the reason why — Now, wouldn’t Henry know that she’s going to see a video with 83 in it?

 

[0:11:35.3] TG: I don’t know. I had assumed that — My thought was like he’s there to kind of guide them but doesn’t always know what’s going on. But one of the reasons I put that in there with 83 was that I had a version of that in the first draft and we kind of like the fact that all of a sudden it like thickens the plot.

 

[0:11:57.5] SC: No, it definitely does. I’m not saying that you would — To take it out. I think it’s a very good plot thickener and it also makes this sort of conspiracy between 83, Henry and Randy. It adds another morsel of clue for Jesse.

 

[0:12:14.1] TG: So what I’m thinking with this is usually the conspiracy, like the way I’m thinking of this is there’s usually two types of conspiracies. There’s like the one where the protagonist is like a part of the conspiracy to rob the bank or whatever, and then there’s ones where the protagonists is just doing what they do and there is a conspiracy on the villain side. So what I’m trying to do is — What I’m finding interesting is setting it up where there’s a conspiracy on the protagonists part, but she doesn’t realize it. So she feels like she was just kind of randomly selected or whatever, or she was selected because she met this criteria to go to compete in the threshing, when really these people that are setting up this conspiracy to overthrow the government have directed her path the whole way, which is why like Henry keeps getting mad every time she’s like doing things that make people notice her, because she’s supposed to be flying under the radar.

 

So my thought was this would be the point where she starts realizing that something’s going on that she doesn’t understand. So when she sees 83, what I want that to be the point is like, “Okay. Henry knows her, but Henry’s never said anything. She’s been here before. So is he. What’s going on? Why do I not know everything?” Then in her and Henry’s conversation, the idea was that he would — I want to start dripping out what’s really going on without saying the whole thing.

 

[0:13:57.8] SC: Yeah, I get. In a conspiracy, there comes a point where the conspirators heartlessly use other people as tools. So I think that’s part of the theme here is the overall controlling idea of your book is about dishonesty and using people as tools without their knowledge is morally contemptuous and evil.

 

So what’s kind of fascinating here is that your “good guys” are creating a conspiracy without the knowledge of a key player in the component, in the drama itself. So Jesse doesn’t know what’s going on at the conspiracy level to overthrow the government. She also doesn’t know what’s going on in terms of President Marcus and the reapers, and part of the trick that you’re going to have to pull off is to plant — Excuse the expression. Plant the clue that this has to do with food without ever saying food. So when you describe how the great revolution of the reapers came about, it’s sort of you have to take a page from the way great tyrants have explained the rise of their power. It’s like any political campaign. Are the reapers — Did they sell people on the past? Returned the greatness of the past or are they selling them on the future? The prosperity of the future.

 

Basically what the reapers are doing is maintaining social order, right? But they can’t sell people on that notion. Nobody wants to live in a world where everything is maintained. We either want to go back in time when things were better or we want to go forward when things will get better. So not to get political here, but Donald Trump sold the nation on the idea of the past, make America great again. Barack Obama sold the country on the future. His poster said hope. So what did the reapers sell to the people as the propaganda to get them in power? Did they say, “We’ll make it as great it was in the past.” or did they say the future is bright and the future — This is how like corporations work too. Google and Amazon and Microsoft and Apple, they’re not selling the past. They’re always selling you the promise of the future. In the future, if you put this thing in your home, you will never have to worry about having milk in the refrigerator anymore, because this machine will order the milk for you when it gets low and then it will be delivered and it will be great. You’ll never have to order milk again.

 

[0:17:00.7] TG: Is the promise that — Because I guess I was thinking of it in terms of like without us this whole thing will fall apart. Without us you’ll die.

 

[0:17:11.7] SC: No. Nobody will buy that. Human nature is no one chooses to maintain.

 

[0:17:20.6] TG: So like in 1984, what was the government promising there?

 

[0:17:25.8] SC: They were promising the freedom of individual choice, which is oxymoronic and it’s the brilliance of Orwell to be able to pull that off, but they literally had thought police in 1984 and they had constant surveillance that would tell people your thoughts are crimes. So in order for you to get along, we are going to help you from thinking the bad thoughts. So the big brother would constantly be there to help you with your bad thoughts and their thought crimes. I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but the notion of people, two people coming together and falling in love and being stronger than one person was so threatening to the state in big brother that it was a crime to fall in love. You know what? That sounds like, “Oh, boy! How did he pull that off?” Guess what we have today? We have people addicted to pornography who can’t even have a conversation with a member of the opposite sex. We see teenagers in restaurants who are sitting across from one another who text each other because they don’t want to have an un-editable conversation.

 

The notion that this idea that people are so afraid of human connection that they’ll fall into their own internal vortex is actually was revelatory in 1984, and I would say we’re closer to that reality today than ever before. Now I’m getting all philosophical, but my point is that I think what you’ve written here is actually it’s a really good roadmap for you. Now you have to disguise it in untruths or mistruths or white lies or whatever, and it’s one of these great situations where you make a choice. Are the reapers selling the future or are they selling the past? Do they maintain their power by promising a better future or promising a return to a better past?

 

So they could say to everybody, “Oh! You work in the grid, and the things that you do in the grid are fixing the atmosphere, and the harder you work, the closer we will get to the golden age when there was snow in January.” That I could be a great story that the reapers tell the world and the factions. Now until we get to that point, folks, you’re not working quite hard enough. We’re getting there, but until you get there, we need to control what supplies we have.

 

[0:20:12.8] TG: So the idea in my head that I’ve been kind of using as a blueprint is in the Bible when the Israelites escaped the Egyptians and like crossed the Red Sea and they’re finally like out of slavery. So that’s the idea I’ve had here is like, “Okay. They’re all in this slavery mindset where they’re plugging in to this thing, they’re doing this thing,” and I look at it is like getting them addicted to a drug where like they do it every day, they kind of hate themselves for it, but they also can’t live without it. Egypt in this case would be the reapers and the people in charge of the faction. So there is no promise to the people that are enslaved other than, “If you don’t do this, we will kill you.”

 

Then the whole thing, after the book one, will be just like when the Israelites finally escape and then all they do is bitch and moan that they want to go back to Egypt. So it’s like that’s kind of the setup, is they’re going to free these people but then they’re going to have to deal with the fact that they’re free.

 

[0:21:24.8] SC: That totally works, but the problem is is that you don’t have the instruments of oppression in the story in the way that is more in-your-face. I mean there are faction guards in the utopian area, but maybe that’s a note. I find it difficult to believe that unless these people are being sold a bill of goods, a psychological manipulation, that’s the best way to enslave somebody, really.

 

[0:21:53.6] TG: Then I guess my thing would be — So then I feel like that causes another problem, which is you have these people working to free these people that don’t want to be freed.

 

[0:22:03.9] SC: That’s correct.

 

[0:22:05.5] SC: Well then the reader is not going to sympathize with the cause that doesn’t help anybody.

 

[0:22:11.2] SC: That’s a revelation, and that would push into book two, because the assumption that we all have is that no one in their right mind would ever be happy going online and being plugged into a thing and doing a virtual job for 12 hours a day, even if a lot of people do that now.

 

So we’re being sold a bill of goods that we’re accepting. So there’s a lot of ways to control people that have nothing to do with guns or policeman. So the fact is, is that what you have is a small set of outliers that include Randy, Henry, 83, and eventually Jesse who say to themselves, “This is intolerable. We’re going to ruin this thing. This is crazy.”

 

So they are such believers in our own ideology that they’re not really considering the repercussions of their actions. They assume that all the other people on the planet feel like they do, that they would rather have more individual choice. They would rather have the opportunity to create their own destiny instead of having to go into this grid. So the revelation that these people don’t really want to be free is going to be a real sledgehammer in the next book, or even at the end of this book.

 

[0:23:38.4] TG: So, again, I come back to then for the whole book, it would need to be in oppression thing where these people are oppressed and there is a small group of people fighting to get them out from underneath oppression.

 

[0:23:51.8] SC: Well, you have that now. My only point is that a lot of these stuff does not have to be on the page. So all I’m saying — And I’m probably — We’re getting down a wormhole that anybody who’s listening right now is like, “I can’t believe they’re talking about this.”

 

[0:24:11.1] TG: They should be used to it by now. I mean, this is pretty much what we do.

 

[0:24:15.7] SC: Yeah, but it’s worth thinking about, because I contend that people who are reading a novel go along with the assumptions of the narrator. Meaning that the way you’re portraying these people in their grid work is pretty horrible. So the actuality of having to go to the bathroom in your bed while you’re still in this grid is ridiculous and horrifying. So that portrayal will tell the reader, “These people are being oppressed.”

 

[0:24:50.1] TG: Well, okay. So this is where I’m still confused, is I feel like when people are oppressed in that sort of way, there is no promise of future or getting better in the future or going back to the past. It’s all about just getting through today so they don’t kill me.

 

[0:25:08.9] SC: Well, okay. That’s not true. Think about Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany, their story was, “We are going back to the time when Germany was great.”

 

[0:25:20.4] TG: Right. So that was the promise to the people of Germany, not the promise to the people that ended up in the concentration camps.

 

[0:25:29.2] SC: That’s correct, but — Oh, I see what you mean.

 

[0:25:32.2] TG: So the reapers are telling themselves and telling the elite that live in [inaudible 0:25:37.2], and Marcus, who runs the faction, like we’re building a world where you will have plenty of food, where you will be taking care of, but it’s built on the back of all of these slaves. And there is no story for the slaves other than do this or we will kill you.

 

[0:25:57.9] SC: Well, do this or you’ll starve to death. Yeah, I mean —

 

[0:26:01.9] TG: But there is no — Like they’re not thinking past. They’re not like working towards the hope of a future. Again, I think, in 1984, like the guy —

 

[0:26:12.1] SC: Winston, yeah.

 

[0:26:13.0] TG: Yeah. The Hunger Games was like they knew the future was no better than today. It was just like we got to go to the mines today, because that’s what we got to do in order to get just enough food to feed our family.

 

[0:26:25.0] SC: Yes, but my point is that your propaganda film is the propaganda is for the people who are in the upper classes. This is propaganda to get these kids to willingly sacrifice themselves and get their brains scrambled in service of something larger than we’re going to maintain everybody’s food supply. That’s my point.

 

[0:26:47.0] TG: Okay. Yeah. I can get on — Because part of what I’ve put in here and there that I’ll need to make stronger is like the promise that all of those that come into the recruitment program and all of that, like them and their families are raised up out of the poverty into the higher echelon. So they all want to be there except for Jesse, because she felt like she had a pretty good back home, because she’d kind of worked out this little hole in the system.

 

[0:27:15.7] SC: That’s right.

 

[0:27:16.5] TG: I mean, I guess you could say they sell a hope for the future, because there is this like if you do good work in the grid, you can get to this slightly higher level than everybody else. But is not this — Okay, now I understand what you’re saying. Okay.

 

[0:27:30.3] SC: Yeah, because they’re saying, “You can get a better car.”

 

[0:27:32.0] TG: I was starting to get nervous again. So it’s all in there. It’s all in there. I just needed to turn the dials up in that. I was starting to feel like I had this other huge part of my story I didn’t know, and I’m like, “No. We just figured it all out last week. Shawn, you can’t tell me that we haven’t figured it out.”

 

[0:27:50.2] SC: No. That was a long way of me to saying you’ve got to make your propaganda have a better story than we’re just making sure that everybody gets fed. It’s got to be, we’re returning to Eden, or the future is even better than you can imagine. It’s one of those two things. And in the grid itself, these people are getting little dopamine rushes for the little gold coins they collect, right? If they get enough gold coins, then they get a better apartment. It’s the same thing as anything today.

 

[0:28:22.2] TG: What we do now.

 

[0:28:23.0] SC: Yeah.

 

[0:28:25.3] TG: Okay. So then — Actually this reminds me, I’ve been listening to a bunch of stuff on the last couple of decades of the Chinese economy and how they’ve allowed parts of their economy to be more capitalistic than communists, and that’s where all their growth has come from, but yet they still maintain this overarching control where they at any time could step in and take away everything you’ve created. But giving people just a little bit of control over the next year of their life is enough to get things moving and to keep them going.

 

So let’s go back to those scenes. So what do you feel like the first two scenes, where the propaganda film, she sees 83, and the next scene is her and Harold or Henry talking about what’s going on, and he kind of chirps some information to her. Where do you feel like those aren’t working?

 

[0:29:25.9] SC: I think, generally, the structure of the scene is sound, but the Henry scene, he didn’t say anything that I didn’t expect him to say. You know what I’m saying? It wasn’t surprising. It felt as if it was — It’s hard to track when I don’t have the full canvas in front of me. It felt like an opportunity to do either a villain speech, where he explains to her the way the world works, or yeah — I mean, the fact that he’s holding all these information from her and telling her that he’s holding information from her is a little bit disappointing, because nobody ever does that in real life. If they do, people get very frustrated very quickly with them and do everything in their power to find out what they’re withholding from them.

 

[0:30:16.5] TG: Right. It’s like when your wife says, “Oh, I was going to say something,” and you’re like, “Well, now you have to say it. You can’t tell me you’re thinking something and then not say it.”

 

[0:30:25.5] SC: Right. It’s saying that is a way of repairing you for the worst.

 

[0:30:33.1] TG: Let’s not go down that road too far.

 

[0:30:34.8] SC: No. Yeah, we won’t. Yeah.

 

[0:30:36.3] TG: I think I’m tracking with you. You said you felt like it could be something like a villain speech where they tell how the world works, or you’re going to say something else?

 

[0:30:46.1] SC: Yeah. It seems as if one of the things that’s difficult when you have secondary characters like Henry, is that the reader needs to have a sense that this person is doing things when they’re not on stage, right? So right now it feels as if he is just this ineffectual guy who only comes on stage when we need to turn a plot point instead of him actively doing something on the sidelines. So that’s not a specific note. That’s just a note for you to remember. I’ve got to figure out what Henry is doing in the background and have him come somewhere in the plot where it’s revealed what he’s been doing, same thing with 83. These characters to come on as sort of secondary revelation plot points need to at one point have an active moment, or what happens is that it feels as if they’re just being used as a tool in the storytelling. Do you know what I mean?

 

[0:31:50.7] TG: Yeah. No, I’m tracking with you. I understand what you’re saying. What I’ve had in my head, like what he’s doing, but I haven’t said any of it in the — Like my feeling is he knows Randy’s there somewhere, but he can’t find him. Like his job is to find Randy. That’s why he’s there. But I haven’t lead on to that in any way or said that in any way, and so there are some pretty simple things I could do in the story leading up to now that would set that up, because I feel like I’ve also got my head wrapped around what the conspiracy is and who’s playing what role in it and why everybody’s doing what they’re doing. So I could go back and drop in what he’s doing there and why he’s there and the subtle ways that will pay off later. I mean, is that what you’re talking about?

 

[0:32:42.4] SC: Yes, and also consider like — So the conspiracy going to, in the end, work, but something screwy has to happen within it. Like the plants can’t all work out perfectly, right?

 

[0:32:55.0] TG: So in the first draft we were making Randy the actual villain, and I feel like one of the decisions I made when we decided to go with labyrinth plot was to just — We were trying to come up with this whole convoluted villain thing, which was too complicated. So I wanted to be Marcus is the bad guy. He runs the faction. The conspiracy is to take him down. But the conspiracy is to take him down so that Randy and his crew can take over, and what I’m going to do is have — Basically I was thinking like they would have their own conspiracy of taking over, and it all works until Jesse pulls the plug at the end and that’s completely on her own.

 

[0:33:44.3] SC: That works. I like it.

 

[0:33:45.7] TG: So she undermines both the faction and the conspiracy. One of the decisions I made a couple of weeks ago is she is this trusting person that assumes everybody’s telling the truth, and so one of the things which I’ll need to do much better is I kind of want this point, these scenes to be the turning point where she finally realizes people are lying to her. Henry has not told her everything and she is realizing, and when she ends up going to the severing, she has to come to terms with the fact that President Marcus was lying to her too.

 

So then the ending payoff will be her finally realizing she can’t trust any of them and she’s just going to kind of blow the whole thing up because she can’t decide who to side. Like her decision is you are all lying to me, therefore you’re all wrong. I feel like that will be good payback. I feel like since this entire conspiracy is using her as a tool, they don’t get to win in the end, because then that would mean it was okay what they did, and it’s not.

 

[0:34:56.4] SC: Yes, and I think she needs to form an alliance at least with Ernst and Alex.

 

[0:35:03.8] TG: Well, so my next thing was going to be that I wasn’t sure I was going to pull it off, but is that Henry either disappears and/or gets arrested and we decide in the first draft that her brother would say, “I’m going to come find you and tell you what to do next,” and he does it, and so the three of them were left on their own to figure out what to do and that’s where she starts to take ownership of the process, because this is a whole thing of like the mentor has to leave so that the hero can do it on their own. So I was going to have that kick into, and then that’s where I was going to have her go look for her brother herself and they won’t be able to find them, but that will be the next action sequence before the final severing.

 

I have the same problem now, which is before we get to the end of the middle build and the big action sequence at the end of the middle build, I need some action in between. So I thought that would be where she goes on the hunt and they do this like — She gets Ernst and Alex to help her do something in that realm.

 

[0:36:15.1] SC: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s good.

 

[0:36:16.7] TG: Do you still feel like the two scenes with the severing and then meeting Randy, do they work okay?

 

[0:36:24.3] SC: Yeah, I think so. I mean, one of the difficulties of reading things as they’re being written is not having the full context at the top of my brainpan. So my bottom line is you should just keep writing and you can cut and tweak and edit these things at another time. They’re really swallowed place markers that you’re not going to have to completely rewrite. I think the flow works. I think the challenging thing, again, as I said at the start of this, is to keep the reader interested in what’s happening on the page in that moment and not thinking about, “What is this thing going to pay off?” Constantly, mixing up your revelatory turning points and your active turning points and having people do things that the reader’s not expecting that they’re going to do at specific times, like a surprise that is shocking in the moment, but has a really good explanation.

 

I think the revelation that 83 was the medic or the com’s person for Randy is a really good revelation and it will get her spinning, and then moving her to get the answers from Henry and Henry lying to her and her knowing, catching him in the lie and then — Or maybe as he’s going to tell her the truth, he’s arrested. I don’t know. But again, you can fix this stuff later. I think you’re complicating and progressively adding more layers to the story in this middle, which is really, really hard. So overall, yeah, you’re coming along fine.

 

[0:38:10.5] TG: Okay. Well, I’m going to keep writing. Try to get into the second half of the middle build. I looked ahead and we’re at the point where basically up until the final severing I just got to throw it all out and rewrite. None of it works anymore with what we’ve done to the story. So I’m just going to get — Yeah, I’m really excited about that.

 

But, I mean, I do. I feel like we’ve solved so many problems just in the last few weeks that desperately needed solving. So I’m excited about that. So I’ll just get to writing and we’ll go from there.

 

[0:38:41.7] SC: Okay.

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:38:42.4] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Story Grid Podcast. For everything Story Grid related, check out storygrid.com. Make sure you pick up a copy of the book and sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss anything happening in the story grid universe. If you like to check out the show notes for this episode or any past episodes, all of that can be found at storygrid.com/podcast. If would like to reach out to us, you can find us on Twitter @storygrid. Lastly, if you would like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple Podcast and leaving a rating and a review.

 

Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at Story Grid. We will see you next week.

 

[END]

About the Author

The co-host of the Story Grid Podcast and amateur writer.
Comments (2)
Author Tim Grahl

2 Comments

Rachelle Ramirez says:

I’m so thankful for this podcast, for Tim’s willingness to be vulnerable. Courage.

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Helen Halverson says:

Suggestion re: forecast of food shortage:
When Jesse is being “retrained”, she could say to her jailer, “This is all I get for dinner? This won’t keep a bird/other-small-creature-still-llving alive.” Jailer says, “Get used to it” and shuts the door.

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