E03: Selling Girls in America – Breaking

Here’s the third episode of the Podcast: Selling Girls in America, which I host with Guardian Group. to learn more about this horrible crime and how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit their website at www.guardiangroup.org.

To listen to the podcast, go here or subscribe at your favorite podcast platform.


The breaking phase occurs when a trafficker introduces his victim into “the life”. For some this can be very violent, including gang rapes, for others it may be giving an illicit massage to one of the predator’s friends.

Shame is often used to maintain power and control. Statements like: “You are just a whore now” “No one will believe you” “Your family won’t love you anymore” “You are the one committing a crime” may be used.

If recovery of a victim is not made prior to this breaking phase it becomes much more difficult.


Stable: the group of victims under the control of a pimp/trafficker. The average is 3-5.

The Life: what a victim refers to being trafficked as.

The Game: what a pimp/trafficker refers to trafficking as.

  • 25% of survivors report when sold online they saw an average of 10 buyers per day [source]. The number slowly goes down from there.
Complex Trauma:

In all trafficking situations complex trauma occurs that can be persistent and devastating. Trauma effects the body on every level, it removes the ability to self-regulate which then interferes with a victim’s perception and cognitive ability. Trauma is experienced not only from the interactions with their pimp/trafficker but with every sexual encounter the victim experiences. The trauma associated with just one day in “the life” is hard to comprehend, let alone years.

E02: Selling Girls in America – Grooming

Here’s the second episode of the Podcast: Selling Girls in America, which I host with Guardian Group. to learn more about this horrible crime and how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit their website at www.guardiangroup.org.

To listen to the podcast, go here or subscribe at your favorite podcast platform.


Trafficking can be difficult to identify, especially in it’s earliest stages. Often a pimp/trafficker will act like a boyfriend and groom his victims into the life by gaining emotional control over them as they fall in love with him. It can be tricky to see the red flags initially as this relationship develops.  It is important to listen to your gut.

  • 42% of survivors report their trafficker earned their trust within one month of meeting [source].

Parents and caregivers can play a vital role in teaching our young people about the importance of safe dating, how to treat others and what to do if you suspect something is wrong. It is important to teach young girls that it is okay to get themselves out of a situation even if they are afraid they might disappoint someone. Once you learn this information do not keep it to yourself, share it with other caregivers in your sphere of influence. If we can protect our young people by educating them and their support systems then they rapidly become less of a target for predators.

E01: Selling Girls in America – Assessment and Recruitment

Here’s the first episode of the Podcast: Selling Girls in America, which I host with Guardian Group. to learn more about this horrible crime and how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit their website at www.guardiangroup.org.

To listen to the podcast, go here or subscribe at your favorite podcast platform.

Assessment and Recruitment

Assessment and recruitment is the first phase in the cycle of sex trafficking. Below you will find the statistic referenced throughout the episode.

– Average age of entry into the sex trade is 15 years old, with 1 in 6 being younger than 12. It is believed to be younger for males [source].

– One in seven runaways will likely become a victim of sex trafficking [source].

– Sex trafficking has been reported in all 50 states with 83% of victims being US citizens [source].

– Twenty-five percent of victims report when sold online they saw an average of 10 buyers per day [source]. The number slowly decreases from there. This is 10 rapes per day.


– Force: a method a traffickers uses to maintain control over a victim, often includes violence.

– Fraud: occurs when the pimp/trafficker promises things that they never intend to follow through with in order to maintain control over their victim.

– Coercion: persuading an individual to do something by using some kind of threat, pressure or shame.

– Bottom (or Bottom Bitch): the girl that the pimp/trafficker trusts the most, she is often given the task of recruiting, collecting money and training other girls.

– Stable: the group of girls a pimp/trafficker is “running” at a time, the average is 3-5 girls at a time.

For more statistics and definitions please check out Guardian Group’s 2019 Human Trafficking in America Report here.

When looking for red flags FIRE is a good acronym to remember:
F- flattery I- isolation R - request for secercy E - enticements

showrunners 015 – The umbrella academy 6 core questions

Reminder, the Umbrella Academy on Netflix before reading this post. We discuss the plot and themes in the series and you will learn a lot more.

1. What’s the global genre?

External Genre: Action (Life and Death)


I was unsure about the subgenre of the Action story, at least for the TV series.

It could either be: 

  • Action – Man against Man – Hunted (Five is hunted by the Commission)
  • Action – Man Against State – Saviour (Hero fights someone who wants to destroy society)
  • Action – Man against Time – Countdown (8 days until apocalypse)

In the comic book, I decided it was action – savior because in the comic book the antagonist was the Orchestra Verdammten. Their intent was on social destruction because they wanted to end the world. And Number Five is set out on his own redemption plot to stop his sister Vanya from destroying the world.

Read More

Showrunners 014 – Intro to The Umbrella Academy Season 1

Due to the high interest he had in our episode that included the 6 core questions for Season 1 and 2 of Killing Eve, we’ve decided to change our format for this podcast. 

Important Notice:

The Podcast will now have two episodes a month

An intro to a new series that will introduce the series and talk about expectations from seeing the trailer and reading series descriptions. 

Then we’ll give our listeners 2 weeks to watch the series and the second monthly recording will cover the 6 core questions, what made the series good/ bad/ innovative and how the series could have been improved.  We focus on genre, global story and obligatory moments.

All are TV series are gonna be action/thriller stories. So at the end of the year, we have analysed 12 TV series in that genre and will be able to compare them looking at innovations in genre conventions, obligatory moments and the global story’s five commandments. So that you can learn how stories are broken down globally.

This season we, the Story Grid Showrunners, will dissect the hit Netflix television series The Umbrella Academy.

What’s The Umbrella Academy – Season 1 about?

Here is the Wikipedia Description

On October 1, 1989, 43 women around the world give birth simultaneously, despite none of them showing any sign of pregnancy until labor began. Seven of the children are adopted by eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves, and turned into a superhero team through what he calls “The Umbrella Academy”. Hargreeves gives the children numbers rather than names but they eventually are named by their nanny robot mother, Grace, as: Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Number Five (his only name), Ben and Vanya.[3] While putting six of his children to work fighting crime, Reginald keeps Vanya apart from her siblings’ activities, as she demonstrates no powers of her own.

In the present day, Luther is a part-animal astronaut, Allison is a famous actress, Vanya is a violinist, Klaus has a drug addiction, Ben is a ghost only able to converse with Klaus, and Diego has become a vigilante with a penchant for trouble. The estranged siblings learn that Reginald has died and gather for his funeral. Number Five returns from the future, revealing that a global apocalypse is imminent. Meanwhile, the reunited siblings try to uncover the secret of their dysfunctional family while beginning to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities.

Read More

Showrunners Podcast E13 – Killing Eve Season 2 Foolscap

Since we’ve talked so much about the first season of Killing Eve, we don’t wanna leave the big question unanswered, why the second season wasn’t perceived as good as the first one. Or as the Rolling Stones Magazine said: that spark from Season One never fully reignited.

It’s gonna be just this one episode where we focus on the global story and will answer and discuss the most important questions to see where Killing Eve Season 2 didn’t work – which means not having satisfied the viewer’s expectations.

For discussing the second season, we use the Story Grid 6 core questions to get a better sense of genre, expectations, and the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff of the TV series.

Recap: What happened in Season 1:

  • An MI5 security operative, Eve Polastri, receives the opportunity to hunt down a female serial killer by joining a secret task force.
  • She gets obsessed with this particular female assassin, Villanelle, because her murders are committed so well and in a way that excites Eve
  • Eve gets personally involved as her affection for the investigation and the assassin grow bigger
  • She continues the investigation knowing that V. leaves clues only for her (new clothes in her suitcase, name of a nurse in Berlin Sex Hospital)
  • People close to Eve die (Bill, Frank)
  • Eve breaks the rules, loses her job but still follows one more clue that takes her to Paris, where she breaks the apartment of the assassin and tells her that she’s so exhausted. But the assassin is not able to seduce Eve. Eve stabs Villanelle, but Villanelle manages to get away badly wounded

6 Core Question Analysis

Download the Foolscap here.

What are the beginning hook, middle build and ending payoff?

Beginning Hook (Ep 1-2)

After Villanelle is severely injured by Eve last season, Villanelle tries to get help and make her way to London to find Eve, and after avoiding detection by the 12 and trying to heal, she finds herself under the power of a psycho in England named Julian.  Trying to escape, she first calls the 12 but is turned down and then calls MI6 to speak with Eve and leaves a message which Carolyn receives. After Carolyn tells Eve, they try to search the neighborhood to find Villanelle, only to arrive just after Villanelle has killed Julian and met her new handler Raymond who drives her away from the area.

  1. II: Villanelle is injured severely
  2. TP: Villanelle calls Eve for help at MI6 and Carolyn gets the message
  3. CR: Does Carolyn give the message to Eve, knowing her obsession
  4. CL: Carolyn tells Eve
  5. RE: They go to find her house to house in the area where the call was made with a lot of security, but they just miss her as Raymond picks her up as Villanelle’s new handler.

Middle Build (Ep 3-6.5)

After Villanelle heals and starts killing for the 12 again, Eve succeeds in capturing the Ghost, but can’t break her and determines the best way to get information from the Ghost is to hire Villanelle.  Eve uses herself as bait to meet Villanelle and convinces Villanelle to work for MI6 and break the Ghost, which she does, and get information about a special weapon and Peel’s involvement in the assassinations.

  1. II: Villanelle is killing again for the 12 under a short leash under Raymond and is bored
  2. TP: Eve captures the Ghost, Eve can’t break the Ghost, need Villanelle
  3. CR: Does Eve use herself as bait?
  4. CL: She does
  5. RE: Villanelle agrees, they break the Ghost and learn about a weapon and Peel’s involvement in the assassinations.

Ending Payoff (Ep 6.5-8)

  1. II: MI6 uses Villanelle to get close to Peel in order to learn more about his plan
  2. TP: Eve learns that Carolyn always meant to use Villanelle as a patsy to kill Peel
  3. CR: Does Eve stay with MI6 or not
  4. CL: Eve quits
  5. RE: Eve is forced to kill a man with an ax to save Villanelle from Raymond, then goes on the run with Villanelle before learning that Villanelle set her up to make the kill, then she decides to leave Villanelle and gets shot by Villanelle

What’s the global genre?

Thriller/ Serial Killer

What are the obligatory scenes of the global genre? 

  • Inciting Crime Indicative of a Master Villain – This remains unknown for most of the series until the Ending Payoff, it is unknown why the Ghost is killing and who she is killing for – she is killing for Peel in order to secure his information weapon
  • Speech in Praise of the Villain – in Ep 2, Eve speaks about Villanelle – “She is Flamboyant, instinctive, spoiled, easily bored, not sloppy”; and the Ghost – “Careful, anonymous, meticulous, and discreet – the opposite of Villanelle”
  • The Hero becomes the victim – When Peel’s men come to kill Eve and she hides under the bed
  • The Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – When Peel tries to convince Villanelle to join him and Eve thinks it’s possible; In this case, Eve uses her ability to understand Psychopaths and thinks that Villanelle might actually kill her OR this scene is when Eve kills Raymond. The Core Event is where the genres intersect, and Eve doesn’t have an active role in the Peel scene, but she has an active role in the axe scene
  • False ending – Eve saves Villanelle and it looks like they might end up together, but Eve betrays Villanelle’s love in the end and Villanelle shoots her

What are the conventions of the global genre?

  • MacGuffin – Villanelle wants Eve
  • Red Herrings – Will the ghost replace Villanelle, Will Raymond best Villanelle, Will Eve end up with Villanelle, Will Villanelle join Peel
  • Making it Personal – Villanelle confesses her love for Eve, tells Eve that Eve is hers
  • Clock – When Villanelle says the safe word, then Eve thinks she must rescue Villanelle and then the bad guys close in

What’s the point of view?

  • Eve
  • Villanelle
  • Carolyn and Constantin
  • Ghost

What are the objects of desire?

Eve Polastri: Even though Eve investigates the ‘Ghost’ now, she still wants to see Villanelle again. At first, she always checks french police reports and news for any sign of Villanelle. They finally meet in episode 5. We’ve waited a long time for this and suddenly Villanelle, who is a proven psychopath, is allowed to help out on an investigation? It’s like she got the jail free card. And Eve’s more motivated to watch Villanelle, than working on the case. The case just seems like the means to be with Villanelle.

But anyway, Eve is obsessed with Villanelle and sexually aroused by listening to her or thinking of her. So some part of her is telling her not to fall for Villanelle, but being in love you do stupid things. Which ultimately lead to Eve’s wake up call in the last episode.

Villanelle: Eliminate skilled mystery woman ‘The Ghost’ who could take Villanelle’s job if you believe her new handler Raymond (i guess an organization like the 12 has more assassins for hire. So why kill Villanelle when they could have 2?) But what really bothers Villanelle is that Eve is investigating someone else. She wants Eve for herself. It’s an obsession love story on her end, too.

Note: In episode 1 the side of Good and Evil was clearly recognizable. Eve was the protagonist and Villanelle her antagonist. 

But who’s the antagonist in Season 2?

There are several but there’s none that pushes the plot forward from the beginning of the story to its ending?

  • Is it Villanelle’s new handler? Hardly, he doesn’t show for most of the episodes?
  • Is it Aaron Peel? The plot certainly revolves around this guy but the power divide between the combo of Eve and Villanelle and this guy is just not strong enough. And he’s killed so easily by Villanelle.
  • Is it the 12? Doubtful, there’s not much to go on to say how much they’ve been involved?
  • Is it the new female assassin? The Ghost? She’s so scared of Villanelle (no suspense and the promise was not kept that the Ghost could be the one who threatens Villanelle’s life) and was so easily found (like magic). Hardly a match for Villanelle.

Antagonist’s objects of desire:

  • Villanelle wants to push Eve closer to her by all means necessary.
  • Aaron Peel wants to sell his weapon, but I have no idea what he gets out of it. Why should he sell something that gives him the biggest pleasure?
  • The 12 want Peel’s weapon because information is power. But they are so far in the background of this story that they’re almost left out if they weren’t mentioned once or twice.
  • The Ghost probably just wants to make a living to get her kid to school. 
  • And the handler rather kills someone than buying a weapon.
  • And Carolyne loves to play people as if she was playing a game of chess and cheating because she knows all the moves already.

Having no clear antagonist is the heart of the problem. Our previous villains have becomes victims. Constantin is now helpless without his family and has to hustle for work. Villanelle remains unhinged, but it’s clear her power is limited, she’s no master villain. The Twelve have diminished as a villain save for the pasty-faced Raymond, who is dangerous but he lacks the threat and that Constantin displayed in Season 1.

Worse still, we have no hero. Eve’s descent into immorality tilts the balance. In a sea of semi-villains, we have no lightning rod for morality, apart from Kenny.

In short, we are lacking a master villain.

What is the controlling idea/theme?

Death triumphs if love gets in the way of being able to use your gift to the fullest (Eve’s psychoanalysis capabilities) and see the one you love for who they truly are.

Summary: Killing Eve Season 2

Did it work?

Melanie: Lots of open questions left:

  • What about Eve? The cliffhanger seems too designed. Eve won’t be dead. There’s no blood.
  • How will Eve react when she finds out Villanelle attacked Nico.
  • What about the software?
  • The Ghost is still alive but there’s no telling what Villanelle did to make her talk. Maybe they didn’t know themselves so they left that crucial part out. And that’s devastating, especially after being told how much of a threat The Ghost is to Villanelle and then the confrontation between those exceptional women is just skipped over.

Villanelle broke into Eve’s apartment to use her toothbrush and move things around—you know, just for fun, but we never got Eve’s reaction to it. 

And there was no shepherd pie cooked by Villanelle.

And at the hotel in the last episode, Villanelle just walked into the surveillance room. Just like this? So easily. 

Furthermore, the objects of desire are not clearly defined. And there’s a lack of a clear antagonist. And it seemed more of a love story than a thriller.

But listen in to the podcast, we have a theory that Carolyn might be the Master Villain in the overarching story.


Not as good as Season One, but still quite good.

What’s next?

We’ve changed our format because we’ve noticed that going through each episode might be too micro. We want to focus more on the global story of the seasons of TV Series. 

We’re gonna try this new format beginning with the next TV Series which will be The Umbrella Academy Season 1.

The first one is the introduction to the series and about our expectations based on the trailer and the wikipedia descriptions.

Then, two weeks later, we’ll do a full 6 Core Question analysis on the whole series.

In this way, we’ll cover 12 series within a year and then do a comparison of similarities between action / thriller series at the end of the year.

Showrunners E12: The Foolscap for Killing Eve Season 1

This will be the final podcast where we discuss Season 1 of Killing Eve.

In the podcast we discuss the 6 Core Questions from the Story Grid.

Below is the foolscap if you want to print the document.

What’s Next?

We hope you enjoyed our podcast. Please leave us comments on what you would like to see in the future and Rate us in Apple Podcast and other platforms that you use.

Next week, we will do another 6 Core Questions/ Foolscap for the entire Season 2 of Killing Eve. We will compare the two seasons and determine if the story works and which one was better and why. So stay Tuned!!

Showrunners E11: Killing Eve E8 and the Ending Payoff

This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of Episode 8: God, I’m Tired and the Ending Payoff.

Recap of Episode 7: I Don’t Want to be Free

  • Villanelle gets free during the prison transport
  • Villanelle fails to kill Constantin and he escapes
  • Carolyn orders Eve and Kenny back to London but they go to see Anna
  • Eve and Kenny see Carolyn meeting with Villanelle in the prison

Review of Episode 8: God, I’m tired

  • Kenny and Eve confront Carolyn, Constantin and Carolyn are there together in her room
  • Carolyn tells Eve that Villanelle has escaped
  • Villanelle has kidnapped Irina, Constantin’s daughter
  • Villanelle visits Anna, Anna kills herself, and Villanelle sees that Eve stole her passport and money
  • Villanelle confronts Constantin and Eve, shoots Constantin and runs away
  • Carolyn fires Kenny and Eve
  • Eve decides to follow up on Elena’s lead that there is a Paris apartment paid from the same funds as Frank’s bribe
  • Eve breaks into Villanelle’s apartment and wrecks it
  • Eve admits she thinks about Villanelle and Villanelle does the same
  • Eve stabs Villanelle, and Villanelle escapes
Read More

Waylander – Fantasy Thriller

David Gemmell is one of my all time favorite fantasy authors. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago, but I loved every single one of his books which included historical fiction, sword and sorcery fantasy, and post-apocalyptic survivor. He is just a great story teller. I wish I could pick his brain on how he wrote his books and came up with his plots.

Waylander is one of his first novels about an assassin with a change of heart. Here is the amazon blurb:

The Drenai King is dead – murdered by a ruthless assassin. Enemy troops swarm into Drenai lands. Their orders are simple – kill every man, woman and child. But there is hope.

Stalked by men who act like beasts and beasts that walk like men, the warrior Waylander must journey into the shadow-haunted lands of the Nadir to find the legendary Armour of Bronze. With this he can turn the tide. But can he be trusted? For he is Waylander the Slayer. The traitor who killed the King…


If you want to read the book, buy it on amazon here.

I just reread the book, for probably the 20th time in my life, and I’m really interested to see how the 6 Core Questions pan out. So, let’s get to it

The Editor’s 6 Core Questions

This post analyzes Waylander by David Gemmell, part of his Drenai series. I will be using the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. The 6 Core Questions answer the following questions.

  • Genre
  • Obligatory Scenes and Conventions
  • Point of View
  • Object of Desire
  • Controlling Idea/ Theme
  • Beginning Hook, Middle Build, Ending Payoff
Read More

Story Grid vs Save the Cat

As most of you reading this know, I am a Certified Story Grid Editor. I love the Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid method. I use it for editing my client’s novels and for writing my own. I really get a lot out of the structure it gives my writing and the way I can identify the areas that are less exciting.

That being said, I’ve read a few books about writing, especially before my Story Grid days, and one of those books was Save the Cat Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need by Jessica Brody (Now referred to as STC for the rest of this post!).

First, let me address the elephant, or at least the large cat, in the room. Many writers claim either or both of these methods are formulaic, and that they write from their muse. That’s fine. However you write, planner or pantser or muser, that’s great that you are writing. But at the end of your first draft, you’ll undoubtably start to edit, and that’s when either or both or another method will help you to identify plot points and strengthen scenes. So I’m not here to debate how to best write your next great novel, I’m just happy you are writing. All I’m here to say is that if you want to try a self-editing method after your first draft, you could do worse than picking up one of these two books and reading what they have to say.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on to how these two methods compare.

Read More