Writing Better Stories

Do you need an editor for your Military Thriller manuscript?

Does your Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel need a helping hand?

What about a Book Mentor for your next story?

My name is Randy Surles, an Editor certified by Shawn Coyne in the Story Grid Method of story editing. If you need structural editing for your novel, help with a couple scenes, or mentoring as you write, please consider contacting me for a free consultation (and free scene analysis).

Check out my Testimonials to see what other authors think.

More Story Analysis

If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.

My blog posts 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!

Webinar

Parul, one of my fellow Story Grid Showrunners hosts, and I teamed up to host a webinar on Reedsy in order to discuss the Anti-Hero?

What is an Anti-Hero/ Anti-heroine? How do You create one? Why do we love them?

See our Webinar Notes.

The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

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.

Editing Services

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.

Thanks!

Manuscript Editing Services
Manuscript Editing Services

What is an Anti-Hero?

Join Parul and I on a Reedsy YouTube Webinar as we discuss the Anti-Hero? What is one? How do You create one? Why do we love them?

Read More

Scrivener + Story Grid Part 3: Collections and KeyWords

This is the third part in a three part blog about using the author tool Scrivener in conjunction with the Story Grid Methodology developed by Shawn Coyne.

These are the topics I covered in this series:

  • Part 1 – Set Up
    • How I set up Scrivener to edit or write a new manuscript – My Way
    • How I incorporate the Story Grid guidance inside Scrivener
    • How I incorporate other writings methods
    • Using a Global Value Tracker
  • Part 2 – Using and setting up Meta Data
    • A new way to use Meta Data to track the 5 Commandments for each scene
    • Using Meta Data to Track the Literal and Essential Action as well as Value shifts
    • Review of tracking Story Grid Spreadsheet Data using Meta Data
    • And We’ll review the export feature that allows you to export all your metadata into an excel spreadsheet that resembles the Story Grid Spreadsheet Shawn Coyne uses
  • Part 3 – More Tips
    • Using Keywords to track Sub-Plots
    • Using Collections to Track Main Characters, Locations, and Unique Elements
    • Using synopsis to Track Beats
Read More

Showrunners 26: KE S3E7 Beautiful Monster

You can download the podcast at Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, or whichever platform you use, or click above and go to the Story Grid webpage to listen.

Reminder: Please watch the TV-Series Killing Eve Season 3 Episode 7 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.


Initial Observations

Mel – I’m lost. I’ve lost interest in the show because it couldn’t keep me engaged, but it’s because of all the previous episodes, not this one in particular.

Parul – We’ve veered off the global genre

Randy – World’s worst assassins

Read More

Selling Girls in America Podcast – Bonus Edition: COVID-19 Effects

Due to recent current events surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis and shutdown of numerous systems we wanted to update you on the impact this is having on sex trafficking.

Throughout the show we reference a recent report that Guardian Group put together to lay out the impact. You can find Part 1 here.

To listen to the podcast, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcast or your favorite podcast platform, or go to the Guardian Group Webpage.

Resources:

Intro to Sex Trafficking Training

Tools for parents to keep their children safe while online more.

If you’d like to join this fight during this critical time you can donate here.

Thank you for listening!

Editing Services

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.

Thanks!

Manuscript Editing Services
Manuscript Editing Services

Showrunners 025: Killing Eve S3 E6

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.


Initial Observations

Mel – Very unexpected, and not believable beginning, and then the characters became unreal for me, too.

Parul – I like many scenes, glad the investigation is back on track, but I’m worried about the global story

Randy – No way!

Read More

Showrunners 024: Killing Eve S3 E5

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.


Initial Observations

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?


Recap: What happened in the previous episodes: 

  • Villanelle asks Konstantin about her family
  • Villanelle does a job for him and got the address for Grismet, Russia
  • Dasha tells Villanelle that the 12 want to meet her, but she must be good
  • Eve chooses Niko over herself – going to Poland to reunite with him
  • Dasha kills Niko in front of Eve and Eve is crushed


5 commandments for Eve

Eve wasn’t in this episode.


5 commandments for Villanelle: 

  1. Inciting Incident: Villanelle returns home to her family.
  2. Turning Point: Borka tells Villanelle that her mother blamed him for embarrassing the family because he didn’t win the food competition.
  3. Crisis: Shall Villanelle confront her mother about their past and everything that’s been left unspoken OR shall she continue to enjoy this family life?
  4. Climax: Villanelle confronts mother with the childish behavior she used to do (tomato sauce in eyes and knife in hand)
  5. Resolution: Mom wants to throw Villanelle out, but Villanelle tells her mother that she put her darkness onto her. So Villanelle kills her, and burns down the house, but makes sure her two brothers are not in the house.


Thoughts about the Format

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.


Thoughts about the Global Story

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. 


Spotlight on the Backstory  

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.


Morality Genre

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.


What can we expect in the next episodes?

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 😉


What were your favorite scenes?

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.

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast

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.

The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

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.

Editing Services

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.

Thanks!

Manuscript Editing Services
Manuscript Editing Services

Showrunners 023: Killing Eve S3 E4

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.


Initial Observations

Mel – Confusing, because I wondered why they’ve changed the way they tell an episode, especially in midseason? Probably only to keep the tension between Eve seeing Niko and in between until we found out why we thought something was off.

Parul – I’m not sure about the new format. But I am happy about the addition of the red-haired woman. Good episode but slower and doesn’t match the allure of Season 1.

Randy – The ending was just bad writing, but it could have been great.


Recap: What happened in the previous episodes: 

  • Carolyn follows a lead to a possible accountant for the 12
  • Villanelle and Eve meet for the first time this season
  • Eve starts analyzing again and thinks Villanelle will kill Carolyn
  • The accountant is killed instead of Carolyn and Eve loses her last clue
  • Villanelle gets a new perfume
  • Villanelle asks Konstantin about her family


5 commandments for Eve

  1. Inciting Incident: Niko, who we thought had abandoned her, has messaged her.
  2. Progressive Complications TP: In the office, Eve discovers the connection between the chalk murders in 1974 (Russian sports rivalry) and the Catalan murder. She knows that this killer could lead them to the Twelve.
  3. Crisis: Should Eve keep investigating the Twelve OR make the choice to pursue Nico and take care of her relationship and amend her past failures.
  4. Climax: Eve goes to Poland to find Niko
  5. Resolution: Niko is killed in front of her eyes (and unknown to her the Twelve are plotting for an accelerated enmity between her and Eve)


5 commandments for Villanelle: 

  1. Inciting Incident: Dasha tells Villanelle she’s up for promotion but she has to play by the rules!
  2. Turning Point: Konstantin hands her proof about her family and wants her to do a job off-the-records for him, and he will provide her with the location of her family.
  3. Crisis: Should Villanelle refuse Konstantin’s offer to show the Twelve that she can play by the rules and listen when she’s told not to travel OR does she risk her promotion to find out more about her past?
  4. Climax: Villanelle does the job for Konstantin and kills Charles Kruger’s wife in Lyon.
  5. Resolution: Villanelle is back in Russia (and unknown to her, her ‘relationship’ with Eve has been destroyed)


Thoughts about the Global Story

Randy: I enjoyed how most of this episode played out.  We see similarities to the past seasons – Villanelle gives a cake while in the first season it was new clothes.  I like that Carolyn is waking up and back to her spy self, understanding that Konstantin is working her daughter.  We have playful Villanelle on the cable car.  And I love that Irina is back.

My biggest problem is at the end of this episode they are not staying true to Eve’s character.  She sees Niko get stabbed, but she does nothing – she doesn’t try to stop the bleeding, she doesn’t chase down the villain who obviously just stabbed Niko.  She drops to the ground, defeated.  For me, this ruined the whole episode.

The hook here for this episode is that Villanelle is back in Russia, and that didn’t go very well for her last time.  And the anticipation of possibly, finally, getting to know the Twelve.

Mel: Niko’s death is certainly the most crucial part for everything that will follow. This will set Eve on a hunt for his murder. She will suspect it was Villanelle but might realize after her initial rage that the message ‘Still got it’ doesn’t sound like Villanelle at all – and it wouldn’t make sense either that she had killed him. 

So I guess Dasha’s plan will fail because that incident might bring Villanelle and Eve back together again – in an unexpected way. Maybe Eve will even seek her help. And Villanelle still cares about Eve – we know that. 

Parul: Come on Twelve, you’ve given us the red-haired woman, that’s a great addition but we need more. The Global Story is a Thriller and we need to have a greater emphasis on investigative work. That has fallen by the wayside in this episode. I continue to love Villanelle’s character but I am confused about what we are after. Who is the master villain and what do they want?


Obligatory Scenes & Conventions for a Thriller

Randy: Still no Speech in praise of the villain.

I am curious how the hero at the mercy of the villain will play out – who will be the hero?

Since Niko is dead, what will Eve’s all is lost moment be?  I’m afraid the writers may have written themselves in a hole.  This is too early, we aren’t even halfway through the series yet, it will be difficult to top that after the death of Kenny and Niko, and keep the audience hooked.  I can’t see higher stakes.

Parul: We don’t have a speech in praise of the villain but we do have the all-knowing eye of the 12. The red-haired woman knows all about Eve. Everyone seems to know about Eve and Villanelle but this doesn’t seem to put Eve in danger (for some reason this would be a problem, as the red-haired lady explains to Dasha)


Morality Genre

Mel: In this episode, Eve is a mess – once again. She sleeps in the office and hopes no one would notice her smell, her hair, or her clothes. She doesn’t dare to go back home.

Then Eve receives assistance from an unexpected source. That’s a convention of the Morality Genre. Jamie acts like a mentor. He is not only taking her in, but he also opens her eyes by telling her that she’s not the only self-loathing arsehole in the room. Other people have done bad things too.

This talk leads to Eve finally choosing her own life and Niko over the ongoing investigation. She knows she can make a change through her own choices, and she chooses Niko.

If this is morally right is still in question.

She does put her own as well as Niko’s need ahead of a group who will continue to suffer as long as the 12 are out there. But perhaps, this is her doing the first right thing on her own path or redemption. She wants to make things right, and Niko certainly belongs to it.

BUT 

Niko was her reason for living. Nothing left to live for. 

And losing him throws her directly into her All Is Lost Moment because he was the only good that she had left in this world. She is in shock, literally, she can’t even go there and be there with him as he dies. She just breaks down, helplessly.

And she needs to realize, every path, every decision she has ever made, led to this moment. It’s her fault – on some level.


What can we expect in the next episodes?

Parul: They’re building us up for another Eve-Villanelle Clash. But aside from that, I don’t know. There is a storyline about the missing six million dollars.

Randy: Obviously, Dasha hopes that Eve thinks it’s Villanelle that killed Niko.  I hope the writers are better than using that trope to fool the hero.  Eve’s gift is finding the truth, we’ll see.

Mel: Eve is at the beginning of her All Is Lost Moment. The question is: Will she discover her inner moral code and do what’s right to stop the 12 with whom everything began, or does she choose the immoral path? The immoral path would be giving up and staying a self-loathing arsehole as well as not keeping it professional between her and Villanelle once they both discover they’ve been played.


What were your favorite scenes?

Randy: I liked the anticipation of Dasha’s plan at the end, but I think the writers dorked it up.  And I like the scaring the hiccups away scene – classic Villanelle.

Mel: I liked Villanelle’s awkward dance after being told she gets a promotion.

Parul: The introduction of the red-haired lady who when mentioning Eve talks about her turtleneck. She’s cut from the same cloth as Eve. Hot, snobby, and deadly.

Valerie Francis wrote a great article about the importance of great villains in stories called Stories Need Great Villains on www.storygrid.com.

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast

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.

The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

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.

Editing Services

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.

Thanks!

Manuscript Editing Services
Manuscript Editing Services

Showrunners 022: Killing Eve S3 E3

Killing Eve Season 3 is now underway, with our main protagonist Eve & Villanelle continuing their cat and mouse game. Does this season work? And how does it compare to the previous seasons? We invite you to watch the episodes with us during the week and then tune in to the podcast as we discuss what worked, what didn’t work, and why.

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 3 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.


Initial Observations

Mel – Finally, Killing Eve is indeed back. Everything we loved about the show, they had saved for this episode. Loved it.

Parul – Mostly good. A little disappointing.

Randy – Nothing new, not too many surprises


Recap: What happened in the previous episodes: 

  • Eve finds out Villanelle is alive; Villanelle finds out Eve is alive
  • Villanelle is ordered to mentor a new assassin to prepare for management, but she ends up killing him
  • Eve asks Carolyn for help to find Kenny’s murderer
  • Constantin finds Villanelle


5 commandments for Eve

  1. Inciting Incident: Thumb Drive is opened
  2. Progressive Complications TP: Villanelle is in town and tells her she’s not here for her (she also confronts Eve on a bus, they kiss and fight – which we are distracted by.
  3. Crisis: Does Eve snap out of her depressive trance and tell Julian what she knows? 
  4. Climax: She uses the clue Villanelle gave her to figure out that V is on a mission
  5. Resolution: Doesn’t get to Carolyn on time; Eve shoots Charles the accountant. Eve returns home confused and defeated, returning to find V’s creepy gift. 

Parul: So this episode is tricky for me, it’s disappointing because Eve is a step removed from the thriller storyline. The Turning Point Complication is when she realizes that the Twelve are after someone else – Carolyn. And the crisis is lame – how do I get hold of Carolyn?  – which she does but too late. It’s only by the ‘mercy’ of Villanelle that Carolyn isn’t shot. Eve’s storyline instead focuses on her inner turmoil – Morality.


5 commandments for Villanelle: 

  1. Inciting Incident: Villanelle took the baby of her last assassination to prove to herself that she can take care of things.
  2. Turning Point: Dasha offers her a new job which is in London.
  3. Crisis: Shall Villanelle return to the city in which she will be tempted to seek out Eve and possibly kill her even though she loves her somehow OR shall she refuse the job offer and lose the power she seeks to attain?
  4. Climax: Villanelle returns to London
  5. Resolution: Villanelle completes her job, but she had to return into Eve’s life as well – which will have consequences.


Thoughts about the Global Story

Randy: So, I think Eve is losing it more than we’ve seen before.  I think the show has lost its edge.  I wasn’t really worried about Carolyn dying, especially when they didn’t show the kill shot.  Also, The kill with the piano tuner was neat, not sure I understand the whole baby scene unless they are trying to link that to Villanelle looking for her family.  I agree the Eve and Villanelle scenes are good and what kept the series fresh, however in the past these scenes were integrated with the plot.  I almost think that the other 12 assassins should have been sent after Carolyn, and the Eve vs Villanelle scenes should be integrated.  

Mel: I am so glad that Villanelle is back in Eve’s life. It seems like Villanelle is now trying to prove her worth. She failed as a keeper, and maybe getting the baby is her form of lashing out. Maybe she thought she could raise a kid to be the next amazing assassin, and not start with something that is doomed right from the start.

And she lashes out when she thinks that a perfume could give her power. I thought this was also a funny scene. She says: 

“I want to smell like a Roman Centurion coming across an old foe who once hurt her greatly, but the centurion comes back and is now an Emperor”

And then my husband said: Oh, so she wants to smell like Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

But anyway, Villanelle wants to prove to everyone how powerful she’s become – even though she’s just returned to be a serial killer. She’s not yet a keeper, she just pretends. She thinks she’s an Emperor who will conquer everyone – but I guess this sets her up for a great worldview – disillusionment story – which will probably make her lash out again since she’s a psychopath.

Parul: The Climactic moment was weak – they should have allowed Eve to make a comeback and at least try to save the day. Compare this to Season 1 where we saw Eve racing to get to Frank or Bill. But here, it’s by phone, and Eve plays a more passive role. Villanelle is back and is exerting dominance over Constantine which is great. But we’re no closer to truly understanding the master villains. I think that there was an opportunity to unpeel the layers of the Twelve. They could take us down dead-ends, show us double-crossing agents, etc. 


Obligatory Scenes & Conventions for a Thriller

Speech in praise of the villain – there is a speech in praise of the 12 in this episode, but it’s weak and it’s nothing we don’t already know.

Villain’s MacGuffin – we don’t know what the 12 want, why they killed Kenny;  I don’t think Villanelle is the Villain here, not with the way the current plot is going, and if she is, then she should have killed, Kenny.

Parul: I agree, I think that Villanelle remains the shadow villain here, the lightning rod for the bad side, but we urgently need to understand who the Twelve are. 


Morality Genre

Mel: In a Morality-Redemption Story, the protagonist couldn’t live with himself anymore for all the things they recognize about their own life, so that they want to make a change to redeem themselves again.

But this WANT to change is tested multiple times by incidents that make it even harder for them to stay on their path of redemption. They are tempted to return back to the way it was or to stray from their moral code.

Because doing what’s morally right is no walk in the park. 

And they keep being tested.

Like Eve.

She was a mess in the first one and a half episodes. But she came around and even decided to work with Carolyne again to do the right thing for her friend Kenny and find out more about his murder.

This was a first big step for her to redeem herself after having been so selfish in the past two seasons.

But this episode challenges Eve tremendously.

Villanelle is back.

Villanelle presents the convention of a seemingly impossible external conflict. She’s Eve’s love interest and she’s a psychopathic serial killer.

Villanelle is also the ghost from Eve’s past who torments her – literally. And she steps back into Eve’s life and is really testing it out if Eve will be capable of putting the needs of others ahead of her own self to follow her path of redemption.

And because it’s Villanelle, Eve will have lots of trouble to follow her new path. She might express her inner darkness again – when it comes to her affections for Villanelle. And that mistake will lead to another, the even bigger challenge to finally do what’s morally right.

Parul: I love the morality storyline, but it should be against a stronger Thriller storyline, it shouldn’t dominate this episode which it did. We spent more time in Eve’s sadness than in her heroic actions, and that’s a shame. 


What can we expect in the next episodes?

Parul: There has to be a twist. Someone that we know that we already see must be involved with the twelve. We have to have something more than just ‘oh look it’s the twelve let’s take them down’. 

Randy: I’m not sure I can predict what will happen, which is good and bad.  As far as I can see, so far the show isn’t meeting many of my expectations and I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed.  However, I guess the writers might be able to turn it around and reach an inevitable and surprising end.  I hope so.  So I predict more Eve and Villanelle interaction, Eve stepping it up and becoming less of a victim.

Mel: I stay with the Morality-Redemption story. In this episode, we got a clue about who is the foil for Eve. That is a convention of the Morality Genre and it means there is a character who embodies the ideals and attributes opposite of Eve. This character exists to show the viewer the other path Eve could have taken.

And maybe that character is Carolyn. She tells Eve in this episode that it isn’t fun to use the people you once loved. And I wonder if this is a clue that Eve will have to use Villanelle to get to the 12 – which will be unimaginable hard – but also in alignment with the Morality Story – because that would mean Eve has to sacrifice herself for the greater good = which is stopping the Twelve.


What were your favorite scenes?

Randy: I like the perfume scene.  Other than that, I didn’t have many favorite scenes.

Mel: It’s so crazy. I couldn’t decide in the last two episodes which scenes I really liked because there were none. But this episode had too many that I can’t decide between them. I guess I go with Villanelle who asks the perfumer to make her a perfume that makes her smell like she got power, and then she forces Eve and Konstantin to smell her new perfume.

Parul:’I want to smell like a Roman Centurion’ – that remains my favorite scene. It’s classic Villanelle. Awkward as hell, aggressive, and hilarious.

Story Grid Showrunners Podcast

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The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

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.

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Manuscript Editing Services
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