Showrunners 030: Ozark S1 Foolscap and Analysis

This week, the Story Grid Showrunners fell in love with the Netflix TV Series OZARK – a thrilling story about an unassuming man who is forced to run to the Ozarks to launder money to save his and his family’s life. He has to take his reluctant teenagers and a failing marriage. It’s a brilliant combination of a thriller with a marriage love story, underpinned with shades of an internal morality genre

Access the SG Showrunners’ Bonus foolscaps and Editor’s 6 Core questions for Killing Eve, Witcher, You, Umbrella Academy and Ozark here.

What’s the lowdown?

Randall: Pretty good, some nice surprises, overall the story worked.
Parul: High stakes, constantly moving. The story worked as a thriller.

What are the Editor’s Six Core Questions?

It’s a great way to analyse any story and figure out if it works. Here are the questions. We’ll touch on them in this podcast, but the full notes can be downloaded afterwards.

  1. What’s the genre?
  2. What are the conventions and obligatory scenes for that genre?
  3. What’s the Point of View?
  4. What are the objects of desire?
  5. What’s the controlling idea/theme?
  6. What is the Beginning Hook, the Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?
  7. What is the Beginning Hook, Middle Build and Ending Payoff?

What’s the beginning hook, middle build and end payoff?

We start with what appears to be a normal family: Marty is an accountant who appears to watch porn all the time. The kids are pretty normal, Charlotte is a normal teenager with attitude and Jonah seems to be pretty normal too. Then we find out that Marty knows his wife is cheating on him. All of this sets the stage for the viewers, we see the family at home, work and play and we have a good idea what they are all about.

BEGINNING HOOK

  • Inciting Incident: Marty’s partner has been skimming money from a Mexican Drug Cartel, Marty’s partner is killed in front of him. Marty is about to be killed
  • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Marty decides/ is forced to flee to the Ozarks with his family to wash $8 million dollars
  • Crisis: When the FBI approach him, does he trust them to look after his family or continue to work for Del?
  • Climax: He feigns ignorance and continues to search for way to launder Del’s money
  • Resolution: Marty realises that his job will be harder than he realised. He contemplates suicide but backs out and finds the Blue Cat Inn might be a great investment opportunity.

MIDDLE BUILD

  • Inciting Incident: Ruth Langamore steals Marty’s money putting him in danger.
  • Turning Point Progressive Complication: The Snells threaten to kill the Preacher’s baby when the Church continues to be built
  • Crisis: Should Marty give the Snells his money and save the Preacher’s family?
  • Climax: He bribes the Snells with money earmarked for the Cartel
  • Resolution: He saves himself but is now short of money and runs a scam to take Sam, the Realtor’s money.

END PAYOFF

  • Inciting Incident: Marty decides it’s not safe for his family to stay and send them away
  • Turning Point Progressive Complication: Garcia tries to stop them and Buddy kills him
  • Crisis: Will he confess to Garcia’s murder under torture?
  • Climax: He doesn’t confess, he explains a way for Del to work with Snell
  • Resolution: Marty persuades Del and Snell but Darlene kills Del in rage. Wendy & the children stay back

What’s the Genre?

Randall: Thriller is the Global Genre right? Life and death are the stakes in this story.

Parul: However, you can’t miss that Love as a genre is laced in here.

The Love subgenre is a Marriage/ intimacy story where a committed relationship is now at a crossroads. Something external provokes trust issues and challenges the lovers to recognize, accept, and love the authentic other person rather than the illusion the other displayed during the courtship phase. There is a paradoxical (win-but-lose, lose-but-win) ending. The Marriage Love story may be either prescriptive or cautionary.

Marty and Wendy Bryde are at a crossroads, but you’ll see that the thriller dominant genre add a special twist. Marty has been so wrapped up in his money laundering scheme that Wendy turned to someone else for comfort. After the inciting incident Marty has to take his family to the Ozarks – Wendy wants to leave him but is forced to stay with him on threat of death from Del. As the Season progresses, they make up, they have sex, but towards the end we see real intimacy between them. In the final scene, they are reunited and the love is real – they have remembered each other.

Morality is intertwined in this story in so far that we have a man who is using a moral code that is against the societal norm. He has chosen to take this path to help elevate his family’s security and status. However, he brings people around him down – Mason the preacher, his children. Their moral code also changes.

What are the Obligatory scenes & Conventions of the Global Genre?

Thriller (Global)
Inciting Incident of the villain – kills everyone and threatens Marty and his family
Speech in praise of the villain – FBI and Marty to his wife
Hero becomes the villain – Marty and his family are targeted from the beginning
Hero at the Mercy of the villain – yes, multiple times
False ending – yes


Morality (Internal Genre)
To illustrate the presence of morality in this story, look at the showdown. What’s the showdown for Morality?
The Showdown – protagonist actively sacrifices self in service of an individual, a group, or humanity (positive) or consciously chooses to remain selfish (negative) – We have Marty Bryd who is calmly negotiating with the biggest drug dealer and money launderer to create a situation for them to allow his family to live. He has told his family to create a life without him.

The protagonist faces literal or metaphorical death and either loses the battle but gains self-respect, meaning, and peace; or wins the battle but loses those things a great sacrifice. In all internal genres, there is a paradoxical ending. He doesn’t win the battle – Del is murdered, and he’s now dealing with the fickle and racist Snells – but he has his family back, they love him and come back to him.

What are the Conventions of the Global Genre
MacGuffin – Cartel wants its money washed
Red Herrings – we see multiple possible solutions fail for Marty (restaurant, church, strip club, inheritance investment)
Making it personal – the cartel sees the disappearance of its men as personal
Clock – Marty continues to get calls about his deadline to clean the money

The complete Editor’s Six Core Questions is available here.


Did the Series match the Trailer?
Yes!

Question: What were your favourite scenes?

Randall: The end – surprising and inevitable
Parul: Marty pouring over a map looking geeky while talking to the biggest most dangerous drug kings.

What’s the next Series?
Ozark 2

Downloads

Editor’s Six Core Questions for Ozark, Season 1

Foolscap for Ozark, Season 1

Showrunners 029: Ozark S1 Intro

Money.

That which separates the haves from the have-nots.

Patience, fidelity, sacrifice.

Deciding between to invest in your family’s future and taking responsibility for the consequences of those actions.”

Money is at its essence that measure of a man’s choices.

OZARK – Expectations

Randall Expectations: I’m excited to watch this series, it’s got a lot of good hype.  I also really enjoyed Breaking Bad, with which I see some similarities.

Parul Expectations: In terms of Genre? Action or Thriller with morality. Status? Maybe? It’s unclear why he’s making the choice, but we know he’s chosen to be a drug dealer and now will pay the price. As a viewer – this looks like it’s an edge-of-my-seat type of show. I’m excited but not looking forward to seeing the body count – I’m squeamish.

Mel Expectations: An exciting story about a family man struggling to do what’s right for his family and what’s morally right, while their life gets threatened more and more, and his marriage is tested.

Trailer break down/ expectations

Mel: This trailer starts right by stating the object of desire – not only for the protagonist, the family man and husband Marty, but also for the antagonist that is later introduced as a Mexican drug cartel. And the beauty is they only need to say one word and we immediately get lots of pictures in our head about that one subject and it the good and bad it can do. It all comes down to money.

The protagonist defines money not only as a way to differentiate himself by saying:

That which separates the haves from the have-nots.

But he also adds even more value to money as he states at the end of the trailer:

Money is at its essence the measure of a man’s choices.

Choices. 

And the hardest, probably the biggest choice of this first season is in the beginning hook because it influences the rest of the story. And the trailer tells us what choice the protagonist will be facing: Deciding between to invest in his family’s future and taking responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

And by all the images we see and the short dialogue we’ll get, we know what choice this guy made. 

He is laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel.

The FBI is watching him, and his family’s life is threatened. Even his marriage trust starts to suffer as he accuses his wife about another betrayal.

All those little moments that show us the choices he made, they make us want to find out how it all turns out for this guy. 

Is this going to be a Morality – Punishment story combined with an exciting thriller?

I guess so. The thriller takes it all the way to damnation, and by those choices this guy is making and money is at its core, of course, he’ll be struggling with what’s morally right and what’s not and the consequences of his actions.

It’s the best foundation for making him redeem himself in future episodes. 

But that’s just my take from the trailer. 

I haven’t watched the show yet, but I’m definitely hooked.

Parul: Notice that his worldview seems fixed. This doesn’t seem to be a man questioning his choices, he may be ruing the consequences. But he’s a pretty tough man – wants to do whatever it takes. Notice when the FBI says to him ‘ The lying, the running, aren’t you tired?’ Their answer is to deny it all, meaning, no I’m not yet tired, this is an anti-hero that we are likely to support despite his habits and life-choices. 

Randall: A thriller is part Crime, Part Horror, and part Action – and from the trailer, I think we get all of that as a viewer.  Crime turns on the global values of life and death.  Just from the trailer, we see a half dozen deaths and a number of threats to the family.  The fact the FBI is investigating the family solidifies the crime piece.  The horror lies in the beyond damnation of the protagonist involving his family, his children – this could be his fate worse than death.

It seems to have all the ingredients of a good thriller, but whether they will be able to deliver remains to be seen.  

Question: What makes a Great Thriller

Parul: Compelling hero or anti-hero 

Randall: Great Inciting Incident, Great Villain, Great Hero at the Mercy of the Villain

Mel: Great internal and external genre combo

Next Episode: Ozark Analysis and Foolscap

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!

If you like my Posts – Buy me a coffee.
Thanks!

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 028: Killing Eve Season 3 Foolscap

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

The following is an extract of our episode. For further information, please listen to the show.

Download

Spotlight on Villanelle: Three Seasons have passed and we still talk about Villanelle. What is it about her?

Let’s revisit her character across the series.

Mel: Villanelle demonstrates cold brutality even though she looks stunning and absolutely beautiful which deceives everyone around her. Her beauty and innocent appearance are like the trap that lures her victims into her reach so that she can kill them.

Villanelle doesn’t follow a moral code and only does what excites her. If she has to do something, she doesn’t want to, she falls back into lashing out like a child. Not being able to see the consequences of her actions. She’s impulsive, while her ego requires her to feel invincible. And still, there’s something about curly-haired women in their early 40’s, that throws her completely out of balance. And she can’t deal with her emotions..

As we have gotten to know and love her, she is a twisted personality. She can show every personality trait that we can sympathise with. From funny, to warm, vulnerable, but also strong and frightening. And whenever you look at her, you can’T tell what’s on her mind. Is she gonna kiss you or kill you? That makes the show very exciting.

As said in the last episode of season 3, she can make people change to their worst. She is the reason why Eve unlocked her inner monster and changed from that self-doubt person who carried so much guilt and said sorry for everything to becoming a person who slowly loses her moral path. 

The beauty of the show is, as it seems, that maybe one day Eve and Villanelle will be at the same level. Eve seems to become darker and lose her sense of justice and morality, while Villanelle walks on the path of redemption – which was only possible through Eve. And maybe, one day, Villanelle will have changed so much for the better, that she can lead Eve back on the path of redemption. That would be a great twist and sign of character development.

Parul: If we take our toolkit out and start to analyze this character and use categories – how might we break up Villanelle’s character? 

Randall: You and I have talked about this on a couple of different other mediums, the anti-villain and the antihero. And I think we both agree that Villanova falls into the antihero a bucket, basically because she’s not your traditional black and white anti-villain. She’s not completely evil because she is the person who’s falling her Eve. She has multiple opportunities to kill her, Carolyn. She’s not killing all these people that are hunting her. Uh, and she’s actually and others that are hunting her.  She wants to get out as Mel said, she wants redemption. 

Parul: We witness her vulnerability – her abnormal upbringing. And the beauty that Melanie talked about is actually something that you can’t help, but be drawn to if she was, you know, not so pretty if she didn’t look so angelic and wasn’t so charming, would she still be an anti-villain? 

We also see how Villanelle’s love story gives her a chance for redemption.

Melanie: At the beginning of season three, she had to live with the fact that Eve might be dead. She didn’t know if Eve had survived. At the end of season two, Villanelle shot Eve because she was not ready to let Eve walk away, but in season three, Villanelle turned around, told Eve to turn around as well and let her walk away. That’s proof of love. 

Parul: I love the integration of love and thriller, you know we have been quite critical of season three, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a memorable series that people will be talking about for years to come. Villanelle is a character that we will be referencing for a long while. 


A look at the inciting incidents across all three Seasons. How do they compare?

Inciting Incidents:

  • Season 1: There is a killer on the loose and they need to solve the crimes
  • Season 2: Eve starts investigation into the Ghost
  • Season 3: Kenny dies

Summary of our thoughts on the inciting incidents across the three seasons

If it’s a thriller, they all start in debt. So that’s a good start for any thriller. 

Season 1 II: There is a killer on the loose and they need to solve the crimes

  • Does this turn on life and death – hell yeah it does; it begins with this guy having his femoral artery slashed.
  • The Inciting Incident sets the theme, tone, and mood for the series – people will die, can the protagonist stop her? It’s exactly where you want to be as an author or a screenwriter – you want to tell you your audience this is what this series is about.
  • We see the power difference between the two.  Eve is very, very unprofessional. She’s taking croissants to the briefing and making noise, she’s clumsy (she bumps the table, and she’s late to the meeting.  And then we have Villanelle, who isn’t making any mistakes.
  • We were the most invested in the inciting incident for Season 1 which also included the typical investigation story throughout the season. In Season 1, we have the big showdown in the end. This big promise was kept

Season 2 II: Eve started a less exciting investigation against a new serial killer The Ghost.

  • In season two, the Ghost assassin was interesting but it was wrapped up pretty quickly. It didn’t have that same tension of trying to find out who the assassin was. 

Season 3 II: Kenny dies.

  • Kenny’s death was a good inciting incident and could have potentially led us to an investigation of the Twelve. Instead, it ended up going totally off track as we have talked about in previous podcast episodes.
  • In season one, we are introduced to the 12th, the master villains but by season three they had virtually disappeared. 


A look at the crisis across all three Seasons. How do they compare?

Season 1: Should Eve, now sacked, go to Paris, confront Villanelle and risk her life? Or does she return to London

Season 2: Should Eve save Villanelle from Raymond by killing?

Season 3: (Multiple characters have crisis questions – whose should we follow?)

  • Eve:  Should she stop Carolyn from shooting Konstantin and be a hero? Or stay quiet and keep out of danger?
  • Villanelle: Does she escape with Konstantin as per the original plan?  Konstantin is not family anymore
  • Konstantin (Crisis: Does he go and risk his life or run away and risk Paul’s wrath?)
  • Carolyne: Should she believe Konstantin and spare him or kill Paul and risk the consequences? (he might be part of the 12)

Summary of thoughts on the crisis points

  • Compare crisis for Season 1 versus Season 2 and then Season 3. By Season 3, Eve’s crisis point has been reduced to should I get up and stop Carolyn from killing? Eve is supposed to be the lead character. 
  • In season three, the crisis point has a higher emphasis on Constantine. Does he go and risk his life? So does he go to the airport to escape the Twelve or to the house where Paul is? Really though it’s Carolyn’s crisis: should she believe Constantine or not. She decides to believe him and then kills Paul.


What’s next?

Join us when we talk about the series OZARK.


Find all our other episodes here:

https://storygrid.com/category/showrunners-podcast/

If you like my Posts – Buy me a coffee.
Thanks!

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

How I can help you improve your Story

I just completed an editing session last weekend with a new client. Her name is Briauna and she started a podcast called Teaching Myself to Write Novels. She decided to put some of our recorded session on her podcast, so if you are interested to see how I work with authors, here is a recorded live session.

Briauna does about a 5 minute introduction and then the recording of our session starts. We spoke for a little over two hours, but she edited it down to about 30 minutes. We cover the first part of the book pretty thoroughly, but the middle and ending of the book are mostly cut out (probably because she didn’t want to ruin the ending for her potential readers).

Here is the Google Podcast Link:

The purpose of this session was to help iron out the 15 core scenes of her book which is Story Grid lingo are the 5 commandments of the three acts, what we call the spine of the story:

Act 1 – Beginning Hook

  • Inciting Incident
  • Turning Point
  • Crisis Question
  • Climax
  • Resolution

Act 2 – Middle Build

  • Inciting Incident
  • Turning Point
  • Crisis Question
  • Climax
  • Resolution

Act 3 – Ending Payoff

  • Inciting Incident
  • Turning Point
  • Crisis Question
  • Climax
  • Resolution

Let me know if you have any questions about my method!

If you like my Posts – Buy me a coffee.
Thanks!

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 27: Killing Eve S3 Ep 8

In two weeks (June 19, 2002), we’ll have a summary episode where we talk about the six core questions and release our foolscap.

Reminder: Please watch the TV-Series Killing Eve Season 3 Episode 8 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 – Seems like the biggest crisis, and the highest stakes were neither for Villanelle nor Eve, but for Konstantin in this final episode, while Eve and Villanelle were only bystanders. If I wouldn’t love the character of Konstantin that much, the episode would have been lots more disappointing.

Parul – 50% thriller, 30% love, 20% morality 

Randy – Finally.

Read More

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