My analysis of television series’ episodes use Story Grid’s 5 Commandments of a Scene. I hope that this analysis will help writers make better scenes for themselves. Additionally, I will cover the 6 Questions Every Editor Asks, also from the Shawn Coyne’s book The Story Grid.
These are the 5 Commandments of Storytelling as outlined by Shawn Coyne in his book The Story Grid: What good Editors Know.
Anne Lister’s lover, Vere Hobart, leaves her for a man
This specific incident frees Anne Lister to return to her ancestral home of Shibden where she takes over management. Though this is not revealed till 25 minutes into the episode (almost halfway), we see the breakup in a flashback, so this happens before she returns to Shibden. It’s important to note that because I think this is a Love Story, the 5 Commandments should turn on the Love to Hate measuring stick. This is love betrayed.
There are a number of small Progressive complications that build over the episode:
However, since I’ve decided that the Global Genre is a Love Story, the Progressive Complication needs to turn on Love – Hate, so I think the Progressive Complication for this episode is when Lister meets Ann Walker near the end.
Will Anne stay and pursue Ann Walker, or leave and pursue her love for travel
Ann Lister decides to stay
Lister proclaims what she will try and make Ms. Walker her wife
-/+ loveless to potential love interest
Lister has returned after a hard breakup in the beginning of the episode, and at the end she has her sights on making Walker her wife
-/+ failure to success
At the beginning, the rents aren’t being collected and by the end Lister has collected rents and removed non-paying tenants. Also, she has discovered coal deposit on her property that other miners might be stealing, and she has hired someone to help her manage her coal interests.
Lovers Meet – Lister and Walker meet for the first time
Opposing Forces – Society does not accept gay relationships; society does not accept women in financial power
External Need – Lister has a need to be financial and sexually free
An inciting Opportunity or Challenge – Lister sees managing her families affairs as a challenge
Big Social Problem – society is not accepting of gays or powerful women
a love triangle – there is the question of whether Lister might return to the arms of her previous lover at some time in the series, or a new lover if spurned by Walker. And, of course, Walker could also stray.
First intimate connection or kiss – I assume that will come in the next episode, though they may delay the kiss to increase anticipation of the watchers.
I assume the lovers will have a break up at some point – however, since this is based on a true story, if they were happy in real life, maybe this doesn’t happen.
It’s difficult to see who the helpers/ harmers are yet. Some of the servants, definitely Lister’s sister disapproves of Lister, the other women of status in the area.
More opposing forces, maybe at a local level, maybe in the form of other women or a group of women
At this point, Vere Hobart, Lister’s ex-lover, appears to be the sell out (fellow striver sells out) – we’ll see (selling out to gayhood by marrying a man)
Lister is making plans for managing the coal on her property, this seems like a good opportunity for her ‘initial strategy to fail’ and then she will have to change tactics.
Lister relies on old habits and humiliates herself – this could take the form of her strong arm tactics not working and she might have to ‘appear’ weak like a woman later to ultimately win
If you want to learn more about writing a story using the Story Grid methodology, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.
These articles contain information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. They also give details on obligatory scenes and conventions for specific genres, such as the thriller, love story, war story, crime story, and more.
For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.
If you want to see more application of the Story Grid methodology, see some of the following links:
Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Two Certified Story Grid Editors and I analyze hit television series to see if the story works. We use the 6 core questions and the 5 commandments to examine Killing Eve, the Witcher, You, The Umbrella Academy, and more.
My blog post analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.
Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!