Mentoring Authors One Scene at a Time – Thriller/Military/Non-Fiction/SF/Fantasy
Posted on May 21, 2020 by Randy
If you want to see previous episodes of the Story Grid Showrunners Podcast, check out my episode list or go to www.sgshowrunners.com
When the 3rd season is over, we’ll have a summary episode where we talk about the 6 core questions and release our foolscap.
Reminder: Please watch the TV-Series Killing Eve Season 3 Episode 4 before you listen to the following episode. We not only give away spoilers, but we talk about the global story and it’s just more valuable for you if you know what we are talking about because we reference a lot.
Mel – A documentary about life in remote Russia that has a tragic, but expected ending.
Parul – If I’m looking for a silver lining – here is a good way to look at how one might introduce a villain’s backstory
Randy – WTH?
Eve wasn’t in this episode.
Randy: Well, I think they made an error in judgment here. Either Eve is the main character of the story or she is sharing that position with Villanelle. I kept hoping that episode would end with an Eve bit to entice us along. There were some classic Villanelle scenes, but this wasn’t necessary.
Mel: Did they want to keep up the excitement about Eve seeing how her husband has been killed that they made an entire episode about Villanelle being with her family?
I mean last week we already talked about the change of format when each character had their one piece in the episode and it all led to one event that was announced at the beginning of the show.
But this episode was just one single, very long scene that fulfilled the five commandments in a weak way with an episode’s showdown that I suspected from the beginning. After all, it’s Villanelle.
I noticed sometimes tv series end with a great cliffhanger and the next episode they don’t get back to that incident and show some other characters, but this episode was just stalling. Maybe they need to stretch the material they have, but if they continue like this, who wants to see season 4? They should worry about telling a great and tight and entertaining story that abides it’s genre because this is not the show from season 1 anymore.
Parul: They’ve kept Villanelle’s humor and psychopathic tendencies in here.
Aside from the missing big elephant of Eve & the Twelve which is what this story is all about, they have ruined any sort of empathy I had for Villanelle – her family didn’t seem that bad. The mother said she ‘had darkness’, but I didn’t understand the dynamic between them. Why did the mother give her away, what is this darkness she spoke of? What did the writers want us to feel about Villanelle after this? That she is completely unhinged? She’s become wholly unlikeable and I’m more confused about her background than I was before.
Randy: I don’t see how this episode progresses the global story, maybe they will surprise me. The story should always progress towards the wants and needs of the main characters, moving forward, and the crisis should get progressively harder, the best bad choices should get progressively harder to make. I don’t see this here. Maybe they were trying to make us feel that this was a hard choice for her, but it didn’t seem like it.
Mel: Did they run out of ways of exciting kills? I mean, this entire episode went against everything we loved about the show Killing Eve. and after devoting 40 minutes to Villanelle entirely, the payoff should have been amazing. But we don’t even see how Villanelle kills her mother. She’s just lying on the ground while Villanelle sets the house on fire and it explodes. Something we’ve seen so many times before in other stories. And setting a fire didn’t even come as a surprise, because we were told in the beginning that Villanelle set the orphanage on fire.
Parul: Everything goes back to the genre for the Season, this is a thriller and both for the series as a whole and for the Season itself, we should be seeing progressive complications that get in the way of the villains being caught. This episode was a microscopic zoom in to a villain’s backstory, and doesn’t progress the story.
Examples of stories with effective backstories: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the L Word.
How we might have written this differently:
Parul: We’re missing speech in praise of the villain. We’ve moved from Season 1, where we had a speech in praise of the Villain (remember how the killer had eluded MI6 for years across multiple continents) to speech to weaken the Villain. For example, if they had given us the true cause for Villanelle’s mindset or why she ended up with the twelve, then we might have had a speech in praise of the villain. You might have had a scene with the mother telling Villanelle to give up her job, and Villanelle telling her mother how powerful the twelve are. Or you could have the Twelve appear at the mother’s house – after all, they know everything right? They could have killed her entire family to force Villanelle back to them. This episode could have been a reason for Villanelle to truly hate the Twelve and join forces with Eve.
Villanelle certainly dealt with a ghost from her past who haunted her because she never seemed to have gotten over her mom abandoning her when she was still a child.
But this doesn’t mean punishment for Villanelle in the sense of the morality genre when you feel like you live in damnation for all the things you did wrong, but freedom. She’s rid of her burdens now.
Parul: It seems like they are pushing Villanelle’s character to become less sympathetic, which is a shame. I’m guessing that Villanelle will reunite with Eve, but I can no longer see a reason for the two to have any spark, or for us to want that for them.
Randy: I mean, whatever happens next will be surprising to me i guess, but not in a good way. I hope we don’t see another funeral scene for Niko. Maybe we’ll have a whole episode dedicated to what Eve is doing while Villanelle is family bonding.
Mel: I’m not expecting anything anymore. I’ll just get disappointed. But if they want to make up for the lack of story, then they need to deliver a fast-paced episode with great unexpected turns. But I guess, they will switch back to Eve and maybe make one episode entirely about her and the mess she’s in. I hope you see the irony 😉
Randy: She won the dung throwing competition! The crazy dance scenes.
Mel: Seeing Villanelle happy as she won the different challenges and at the end the competition. You know, at least someone had a reason to smile in this episode.
Parul: I appreciated the absurdity of an Elton-John loving family in Russia, given how flamboyant he is, and how homophobic Russia is supposed to be. The dancing was awkward but the subtle humor was good.
If you want to listen to more Story Grid Showrunner Episodes, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, or on whichever platform you prefer to listen to your podcasts. If you liked the episode, please comment on Apple or Google Podcasts, it helps other listeners find us and spreads the word to other writers and editors.
Also, you could visit my Story Grid Showrunners webpage which has a list of all of our episodes and links to listen to the recordings.
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 are interested in hiring me to edit your manuscript or if you need help writing a novel, check out my editing services. Also, see my Testimonials page for comments from previous clients.
Category: Authors, Screenwriters, Story Grid Showrunners Podcast, television, WritersTags: 5 commandments, 6 core questions, Amazon Prime, BBC, female assassin, Jodie Comer, Killing Eve, Sandra Oh, Story Grid, tv series
With 25+ years of military experience, let me help you make your action characters and scenes more authentic. Contact me and tell me about your writing project.
© 2020 Randall R. Surles