The Witcher – Intro

I frequently analyze episodes from television series using Story Grid’s 5 Commandments of a Scene. I hope that this analysis will help writers make better scenes for themselves. I saw the trailer for The Witcher and wanted to see if this story worked. The first episode comes out on Dec. 20, 2019.

Series Description

I haven’t played the Witcher games, which I know is where it is most popular. My son was very excited that the series is coming out and I watched the trailer, so I thought I might give it a try. I did read the first book of the series in order to have some comparison.

The series description from Wikipedia:

The Witcher follows the story of Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, who struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together

Wikipedia

The initial trailer and the final trailer are somewhat different.

Expectations

So, after reading the Wikipedia description and watching both trailers, this is what I expect as a viewer:

  • Lots of fight scenes, at least one per episode, this will be the core
  • a good character arc for the Witcher
  • I’m not sure this is going to follow the book, at least not the first novel
  • The series seems to have strayed a little from the books to where The Witcher is a killer of supernatural creatures, not a defender of princesses

I have some high hopes that they will make this good, we’ll see. Fingers crossed!

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services. Also, check out my testimonials to see what other authors have said about my editing.


For All Mankind Ep9

This post will analyze the the Episode 9, titled “Bent Bird”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 8 “Rupture”:

  • Ed’s son suffers a massive head injury and dies
  • NASA wrestles with the idea of telling Ed while he is on the moon
  • Ed finds out about his son from the Russians who found out from the press, and Ed refuses to speak with Houston
Read More

For All Mankind Ep8

This post will analyze the the Episode 8, titled “Rupture”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 7 “Hi Bob”:

  • Gordo starts to get PTSD. Ed is left alone at Jamestown when Danielle purposely breaks her arm to give Gorda an excuse to return with honor.
  • Ed’s son gets into an accident
Read More

Showrunners Ep7: Killing Eve Ep5

Welcome to Episode 7 of our podcast.  This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of episode 5 of Killing Eve titled I have a thing about bathrooms.

Recap for Episode 4 – Sorry baby

  • Bill’s Funeral
  • Villanelle is reprimanded for leaving Eve’s name at the fetish shop
  • Villanelle has to work with a group to kill a British agent
  • Eve discovers that Frank is the mole
  • Eve and Elena go to talk with Frank
  • Villanelle’s team hunts Frank
  • Nadia kills the third member of the assassin team and Villanelle runs over Nadia
  • Frank escapes and Villanelle chases him

Review of Episode 5 – I Have a Thing About Bathrooms

  • Eve stops the car and faces Villanelle, and Villanelle doesn’t kill her
  • Eve learns Villanelle’s real name – Oxana
  • Frank gets to a safe house
  • Frank tells Carolyn about the 12 and his bribes
  • Eve puts on the perfume and clothes that Villanelle bought
  • Villanelle breaks into Eve’s house, they talk, they fight, Villanelle steals Eve’s phone
  • Villanelle kills Frank in the safe house
  • Villanelle lets Constantin know that she knows about the 12

So, last episode we agreed that there was a significant sequence that began with:

  • Inciting Incident: Frank calling Eve and telling her that he is being chased by assassins.
  • Turning Point: Villanelle is chasing the care
  • Crisis: Does Eve stop or Does Eve drive away
  • Climax: Eve stops
  • Resolution: Villanelle doesn’t kill Eve, but runs off

So the 5 Commandments of the rest of the episode are as follows.

Inciting Incident

Melanie: Frank is eating in the restaurant and he tells Eve learns that Villanelle’s real name is Oxanna.  Now Eve has her real name and she sets Kenny to find all her files on Oxanna. Eve knows more about Villanelle.  She makes a better analysis of the Villain.

Turning Point

Randall: Villanelle breaks into Eve’s house and threatens Eve and her husband

Parul: The turning point for me is when the husband walks in

Randall: What are the stakes then?

Parul: Good Question

The Turning point is a beat, scene, sequence, act, subplot or Story is the moment when new information comes to the fore and a character can’t help but react. This is where the rubber meets the road in a story. Without clearly defined and surprising turning points, the reader/audience will lose interest. Quickly.

The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne “The Turning Point”

Parul: If the husband didn’t walk in that it’s pure chaos, she’s now vulnerable and so is his husband.

Melanie: I think that the turning point is when Villanelle starts to fake cry and ask for help.

The Crisis

Melanie: Does Eve believe Villanelle’s cry for help or not?  Eve’s gift is her psychological evaluation of people, especially Villanelle.

Climax

Melanie: Eve calls Bullshit on Villanelle and Calls her an asshole and calls her by her name – Oksana.  Then Eve gives a speech in praise of the villain:

»I know you’re an exceptionally bright, determined, hard-working. I Know you are an extraordinary person. I know something happened to you. I know you’re a psychopath.«

Resolution

Randall: Eve fights back, then Villanelle disarms and threatens Eve, then Eve’s husband comes home and she begs for his life, and finally, Villanelle steals Eve’s phone and uses it to track down and kill Frank.

Value Change

It starts with Eve trying to connect with Villanelle to Eve’s life and family threatened and Frank’s death and failure of MI6 to keep Frank safe – the good guys aren’t able to protect their own.

Polarity Shift: +/-

Does this episode work?

Parul: Yes – there’s action and death.

Melanie: the innovation of the genre is very obvious here – the interrogation of Frank is not what you expect, Frank behaves like a child.  Eve threatens Villanelle with a toilet brush and Frank threatens Villanelle with a toothbrush.

For an innovative Love Story scene, Villanelle is asking Eve out by drowning her in the bathtub.  And Eve gives the Speech in Praise of the Villain to the Villain, which is out of the ordinary.

Randall: As a love story –

Here we see the lovers meet in person, just the two of them.  We see the connection between them. Villanelle doesn’t kill Eve

  • Eve is wearing the perfume Villanelle sent her and the dress she selected for her.  Villanelle tells Eve she doesn’t want to hurt her, but when Eve pulls a knife, there is a tense moment then the viewer is in doubt about that.  And when Eve’s husband walks in (Triangle anyone), Eve begs for his life.  
  • Is this a lover breakup scene?  Maybe so.  
  • It’s also the episode that begins their ‘thing’ of sending each other notes, Villanelle putting one in Eve’s suitcase, saying ‘Sorry Baby.”  
  • We also realize once again that their infatuation can never progress, one is a good guy and one a bad guy, they will never be together.

Question of the Week

We only see the aftermath, but Villanelle ups her badassedness in this episode showing once again how she outclasses Eve in every way.  This time, it’s not a couple guys who aren’t expecting anything to happen at a hospital, but an MI6 safehouse with trained operators who are expecting her to come, and she takes them all out before confronting Frank.

What other shows had great Safe House scenes?  Basically, not-so-safe houses?

Randall – Safehouse; Hanna (movie and series); Blacklist; 24

Mel -Ninja Assassin 3; The Purge – they are all in their own safe houses.

Parul – Designated Survivor

Can you think of any shows we missed?  

Did this episode work for you as a viewer?

Leave your comments on our webpage at storygrid.com where you can also find links and additional material in the show notes.

References:

Vote for our next television series to analyze at our website: www.sgshowrunners.com

Story Grid References:

Books, Movies, Television series:

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

Life in the Infantry Part 2 – Deployed

I began this series of Writing the Military with a post titled Life in the Infantry, about what Soldiers do when they are at their home base. This post will be a continuation (long time coming, sorry), discussing what Infantry (and combat arms in general) soldiers do when they are deployed.

This information is useful for those authors who are writing fiction books about military characters or situations who are deployed to combat areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria.

As I mentioned before, Soldiers are constantly in different phases: recovery, preparation, combat – among others, and their daily routine changes depending on which phase and what location they are in.

So, this blog will cover three phases: pre-deployment, deployment, and redeployment.

Read More

Showrunners E6: Killing Eve Ep4

Welcome to episode 6 – This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of episode 4 of Killing Eve.

Recap Episode 3 – Don’t I Know You

  • Villanelle makes another kill at a German sex fetish joint
  • Eve describes Villanelle to a sketch artist
  • Eve and Bill go to Berlin to follow up on the latest kill
  • Eve gets information from a Chinese diplomat
  • Bill follows Villanelle and is killed spectacularly and horrifically

Intro Episode 4 – Sorry Baby

  • Bill’s Funeral
  • Villanelle trouble with Constantin – work as a team 
  • Eve  trouble with husband – he thinks she might have had an affair with Bill
  • Eve gets her suitcase back with new clothes bought by Villanelle
  • Eve and Elena try to find Frank to ask about bribes
  • Villanelle and team hunt Frank down
  • Nadia kills the male team member and Villanelle runs over Nadia
  • Frank escapes and Villanelle chases him

Inciting Incident

Parul:

The Inciting Incident happens 19 min in when Eve discovers that Frank might be taking bribes.

Villanelle’s Inciting Incident is when Villanelle is told off by Constantin for leaving her name as the nurse for the last kill

Melanie:

It’s so interesting that Villanelle still has power, she gives that birthday present for his daughter, basically saying I know things.

Randall:

Most of the first half of this episode is Villanelle and without it, the episode would be pretty boring.  It’s hard to eliminate Villanelle as the protagonist given all of her screen time.

Parul:

Well, Eve is in grief over Bill, so she can’t do much other than cry and sulk and have arguments with her husband.

Melanie:

I thought the Inciting Incident was when the suitcase arrived at her house and Eve now knows where she lives.

Randall:

Or is the inciting incident when Villanelle gets a mission to kill a British agent, and we as the viewer don’t know if that agent is Eve or not?

Melanie:

The Suitcase is good foreshadowing because we know that Villanelle is going to show up at Eve’s house.

Progressive Complications/ Turning Point

Melanie:

Progressive Complications:

  • Villanelle made to work with 2 others, one girl (Nadia) with whom she has a history
  • Eve follows Frank’s phone
  • Frank attacked by assassins
  • Frank escapes

Turning Point: If the Inciting Incident is when Eve’s suitcase shows up or that Villanelle has been assigned a British agent to kill, then the Turning Point would be when Eve finds out that Frank is taking bribes, because this puts her on Frank’s trail which eventually leads to the Eve and Villanelle confrontation.

Randall – The Crisis – Episode 4

Melanie:

So, what’s the crisis in this episode?

Does Eve confront Frank with the knowledge that she now knows he’s the mole?  Or does she bring that information to Carolyn?

The stakes for this Crisis are: she wants to confront Frank because she wants to find someone to blame for Bill’s death, however if she presents this information to Carolyn it’s more likely that they will be able to capture and use Frank.

Parul:

I see something similar, the same scene, but the question is Do I know what to do or do I need help?  Because Eve is still new at her job, she is doubting herself because of Bill’s death.

Melanie: 

Sometimes I wonder if Eve is even aware of her insecurity.

Parul:

It’s a pretty tough job.

Melanie:

I wonder if she recognizes that she might not be the right person for the job.

Climax

Randall:

So the Climax is that she goes to Carolyn with the information

Resolution

Randall:

Carolyn assigns Eve, Elena, and Kenny to go talk to Frank

Melanie:

And I think the next big sequence bleeds into the next episode, and it starts when Eve and crew get a call from Frank and realize he is being hunted.

Parul:

I find this episode very unattractive because the next big sequence bleeds over to the next episode.

Melanie: 

Maybe the writers wanted to leave the middle of the series on a big cliff-hanger.

Value Change

Eve starts depressed and feeling guilty about Bill’s death and with knowing Frank is the mole, they have a new lead they can investigate to find out more.  If we stop the resolution at Frank being a new good lead.

Polarity Shift: -/+

But if we end at the end of the episode, it could end in a –.

All – Does this episode work?

Parul:

From a love story, we have a ritual of Villanelle leaving a note, which Eve will repeat later.

Melanie:

As a love story, we have gifts – the suitcase, the expensive clothes, and the perfume named Villanelle with the note: Sorry Baby.  Hate is a great emotion – you can feel for someone, Eve wants to kill Villanelle with her bare hands.

In general, though, the episode wasn’t as good as the others, we didn’t have another assassination in the beginning as we have in the other three episodes.  This scene is preparing for the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scene. This episode might be more of a setup episode, it is setting up a lot of things.

Question of the week? 

Villanelle is paired up with two more assassins in order to kill Frank, and Villanelle ends up killing both of her partners.  She even backs up over her prison friend Nadia, twice.

What other shows have a killer team imploding and killing each other?

Randy – Driver, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill

Mel – In The Dark Knight – the Joker kills all the others who are working with him.

Parul: Mission Impossible

Did we miss any shows?  Did this episode work for you?  

Leave your comments on our webpage at storygrid.com where you can also find links and additional material in the show notes.

References:

www.sgshowrunners.com

Story Grid References:

Books, Movies, Television series:

Welcome to episode 6 – This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of episode 4 of Killing Eve.

Recap Episode 3 – Don’t I Know You

  • Villanelle makes another kill at a German sex fetish joint
  • Eve describes Villanelle to a sketch artist
  • Eve and Bill go to Berlin to follow up on the latest kill
  • Eve gets information from a Chinese diplomat
  • Bill follows Villanelle and is killed spectacularly and horrifically

For All Mankind 7

This post will analyze the the Episode 7, titled “Home Again”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 6 “Home Again”:

  • Apollo 23 explodes, supplies to the lunar base “Jamestown” are delayed, an investigation to the cause of the explosion leads reveals new secrets
Read More

Writing Soldiers – Everything You Wanted to Know about Writing about a Soldier In Uniform

If you are going to write about soldiers, one of the sure fire things you need to get right are the uniforms, especially if you want veterans and their families to enjoy the book.  Nothing irritates me more than when I’m reading a book or watching a movie and the wrong uniform is used or described.

Image result for ocp acu uniform woman army times
Army Combat Uniform
image from shopmyexchange.com

Every Soldier in the Army uses 2 basic uniforms: the Army Combat Uniform (above) and the Army Service Uniform (below).  Additionally, depending on your job, you may be issued and authorized to wear other uniforms.  The Army has webpage which discusses all of its new uniforms coming out and how they will be worn.

Image result for army service military uniform
Army Service Uniform
image from wikiwand.com

This blog will only be talking about the Army Combat Uniform and its evolution over the years.

Read More

For All Mankind E6

This post will analyze the the Episode 6, titled “Home Again”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 5 “Into the Abyss”:

  • Molly goes into the crater to locate water, running dangerously low on oxygen and finds water
  • Jump forward to October 1973 and the US lands a lunar base
Read More

Showrunners Ep5

In today’s episode, we’re talking about Killing Eve episode 3: Don’t I know You.

Recap Episode 2: I’ll Deal with him Later

  • Eve is hired by Carolyn to lead a task force
  • Villanelle kills some more people and is sidelined after a psych exam
  • Eve and her team run into some dead ends, but then she realizes she might have seen Villanelle
  • Villanelle is told that Eve Polastri is looking for her and Villanelle realizes she knows Eve

Intro to Episode 3: Don’t I know you?

  • Villanelle makes another kill at a German sex fetish joint
  • Eve erotically or flatteringly describes Villanelle to a sketch artist
  • Eve and Bill go to Berlin to follow up on Villanelle’s latest kill
  • Villanelle is on the prowl – she watching Eve from afar and steals her suitcase, and hacks into her phone call to her husband
  • Eve gets information from a Chinese diplomat
  • Bill follows Villanelle and is killed spectacularly and horrifically

Randall:

So, does Germany actually have these fetish shops?

Melanie:

I have no idea.  I’m so embarrassed this happened in Germany.  I’m from a small village and I have never heard of these places.

Inciting Incident

Melanie:

There is another murder, very out of the ordinary again. Villanelle killed a Chinese diplomat in Berlin. That’s a causal inciting incident. A new lead for Eve.

Now we’ve moved right in from the Beginning Hook to the Middle Build of the story

If you are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, you might know that the transition from Beginning Hook to Middle Build is in most cases happening at the same time as the hero leaves the ordinary world and moves into the extraordinary world.

We see this in this episode – Eve moving into the extraordinary world.

Also, the episode has the purpose to highlight that no one is safe from Villanelle. 

Especially no one close to Eve. It’s like Villanelle was making a statement. And if we continue to track Eve’s journey or the hero’s journey, then Eve will soon find out how dangerous that extraordinary world really is. That’s basically, as mentioned before, what this episode is really about.

Turning Point

Melanie:

The Turning Point is when Eve is told that the nurse in the fetish shop used her name for the last assassination.  It’s a revelation for Eve, and now she knows that the assassin knows who she is. Eve is not a stranger investigating that case anymore, but her prey knows its hunter now and can turn the tables.

Parul:

I think the Turning Point comes later on, where Eve says to Carolyn “Please don’t fire me”.  So she doesn’t seem to be making any decision.

Randall:

I think it’s an internal crisis.

Parul:

What about this – Eve is in charge of a team, and when she is in Germany she doesn’t answer Bill’s call till the second time, and as a result, Bill dies, so she fails.  So I think the Turning Point is when Bill dies and how she progresses – does she stay on the mission or not. When I get stuck on a crisis, it is the most memorable moment and for me, that is when Bill dies.

Melanie:

But the Turning Point is when the tables are turned and that happens when she finds out her name was dropped by Villanelle.

Randall:

I don’t understand what the crisis question would be after Bill dies.

Parul:

I think it’s “What do I do?”

Randall:

I don’t think we’ll going to solve this, and we might both be right.  What do our listeners think? What’s the Turning Point? Let us hear from you!!

The Crisis

Melanie:

Does she continue to pursue Villanelle or not after she knows that Villanelle knows her name?

Parul: 

After failing as a leader when Bill is killed, does Eve continue to pursue Villanelle and be part of the team?

Climax

In both cases, Eve decides to continue to pursue Villanelle

Resolution

Melanie:

So, what happens when Eve makes the decision to go to Berlin.  People die. Her friend and former boss, Bill, dies. This is the second time that Eve has made a decision and afterward, people have died, the first being at the hospital in the first episode.  Death seems to follow Eve, and this can do two things: it can make her more determined or it can destroy her, and this is character building, it shows what kind of person Eve will be. Either way, it’s definitely personal now for sure.

Value Change

Randall:

Eve finds out Villanelle knows her name and now Bill is dead and the game is real

Polarity Shift: -/–

Parul:

I see a comparison with Bill getting killed and the Red Wedding scene in Game of Thrones.  The night before, Eve and Bill are bonding and it’s too cute, like the party before the wedding, and the next scene everyone is getting killed in the Red Wedding and Bill is dead.  Whenever it gets calm, we should expect bad things.

Randall:

That’s good storytelling – surprising the readers and viewers.

Does this episode work?

Parul:

Yeah, of course, it’s dark.  I couldn’t believe they would add to the tension.

Melanie:

I just want to mention the scene when Villanelle hooks up with this older woman with similar hair to Eve and tells her “now I’m going to hide and you’re going to find me?”

And Bill tells his son that he’s going to die, a little foreshadowing there.  That was so sad.

Randall: 

  • The middle build belongs to the antagonist, every good guy needs a worthy adversary
  • In Killing Eve, that’s what the viewers get.
  • Villanelle’s killings are unique, so she doesn’t bore herself or the viewers

Now if you look at Villanelle’s assassinations, they get more and more out of the ordinary. Vienna a surgical stab wound. Tuscany she injects poison in the eye. The massacre at the hospital. In Bulgaria, she is almost bored chasing that man in the office. Deadly perfume against the woman. And finally, a sex fetish killing in Berlin. 

Now, we have a personal reason for Eve to chase Villanelle as well as her professional reason.  And we want to see how Eve will get her revenge.

The audience is in it for the long haul now.

Worldview Perspective: 

Parul:

It’s kind of squishy.  Maybe Eve’s self-awareness is going up.

Question of the day

What other movies and TV shows can you think of that have prominent characters die?  Mentors?

Randy – Star Wars (Obi-Wan Kenobi);  Mistborn – Kelsier dies early on the book.

Mel – I love reading comics. So for example in Hellboy – Seed of Destruction Hellboy’s adoptive father dies. Or sir Reginald Hargreeves right in the beginning of the first volume of Umbrella Academy. Gandalf kinda dies in Lord of the Rings, but luckily he comes back as Gandalf the White. Antonius Proximo in “Gladiator”. Dumbledore in Harry Potter.

Parul – Game of Thrones, Red Wedding.

Did we miss any?  Write your favorite unique assassinations in our comment section on storygrid.com where you’ll also find links and additional material in our show notes.

References:

Vote for our next TV series at our website: www.sgshowrunners.com

Story Grid References:

Books, Movies, Television series:

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.