What’s Urgent and What’s Important

I learned this from my friend Steven Pressfield and I’ve nodded my head in agreement for far too long without really applying his wisdom to my own professional life.

Steve talks about the difference between “urgent” and “important” work.  And to do the important work first.

Urgent work is getting my income tax forms done before April 15, posting every single week on the website, and putting up the curtains in the guest room before our friends Brooke and Josh and Ada come for a visit.

Important work, in my case, is Story Gridding as many stories in as many genres as possible.  As Seth Godin describes it, the drip by drip work to create change.  I need to focus on delineating the 12 Content Genres as well as exploring the “Reality” leaf of my Five Leaf Genre Clover, which I think will be the most dynamic story terrain in the decades to come.  That’s important stuff.

And even more importantly, teaching other people how to get the most out of Story Grid without my intervention.  It became very clear to me when Tim and I ran the Story Grid Workshop for Pride and Prejudice in February that there are plenty of crazy smart Story Grid nerds with skills capable of taking this whole thing to a higher level than just me thrashing inside my own mind.

What’s even better is that Tim stupidly offered to take over the posting here at Story Grid to free up more of my time.

So while I’ll surely be back with something now and again, for the foreseeable future, the posts from Story Grid will be coming from Tim.  That means that he’ll be responsible for sending you the latest transcripts for our podcast and updating you on all Story Grid news and information.  The way it will work is exactly the same way it works now.  Tim and I have a weekly call and discuss what to post for the upcoming week.  We’ll still do that.  It’s just that Tim will take over the literal posting and he’ll be giving you updates on all things Story Grid instead of me.

It’s great to be back at work!  Here is the latest podcast after our sojourn.

To listen click the play button or read the transcript that follows.

 

[00:00:00] TG: Hello and welcome to the Story Grid Podcast. This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better writer. I’m your host Tim Grahl and I am a struggling writer trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. Joining me shortly is Shawn Coyne, he is the creator of Story Grid, the author of the book Story Grid, and an editor with over 25 years’ experience.

 

Shawn and I have taken a few weeks off. It’s actually the first weeks we’ve ever missed in the history of the Story Grid Podcast. We missed doing the show. We are excited to come back and record this episode, which actually ended up going a little long, because we’re going through the final scenes and sequences of my middle build. So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working through the final scenes of the middle build. It ended up, I think, being about 9 or 10 scenes, and Shawn and I worked through them, talked about what worked and what didn’t.

 

So I think it’s going to be a fun episode. If you’ve been following along, you know this has been a long slog getting through the middle build. Go ahead and jump in and listen and I think you’ll enjoy as we walk through, and then we’re able to move on and actually start the ending payoff of the book, which I’m very excited to get that much close to a final first draft.

 

Anyway, we’ll jump in and get started.

 

[EPISODE]

 

[00:01:19] TG: Shawn. I’ve spent the last few weeks that we took off writing the next couple of sequences of my book. I sent you — I actually forgot. I think it was 10 scenes — 3, 6 — It was 11 scenes, roughly 10,000 words, because I can’t seem to write a long scene. We left off where Jessie had met her brother during the second severing and that was the middle point of the book. She met him and he said that he would give her instructions and he needs her help kind of taking down the faction.

 

Then, what I wrote was basically everything between that point and the point where she dies. There was an arc of basically her both waiting around and looking for her brother and then there was the arc of her going through the severing, or going into the final severing and getting to that place. She dies at the end of the third severing, and I tried to make that leave off where the next scene is basically the All Is Lost moment, because I set it up where both Ernst and Alex got caught doing stuff they shouldn’t do and they’re going to get punished for that. She’s dead. Brother is nowhere to be found. How do we even start to come back from this? That’s what I was trying to do.

 

I don’t think I got — I think there’s still one more sequence before we get into the ending payoff, because I got to get from the All Is Lost moment to the threshing, but I tried to get from the end of the second severing when she met her brother to the All Is Lost moment.

 

I sent you 11 scenes, almost 10,000 words, so that — Which the whole book right now is 45,000 words. It’s a good chunk. This is the longest I’ve — Longest piece I’ve sent you to look at in this book. If you haven’t noticed yet, I keep talking to put off tapping with you what you have to say.

 

[0:03:38.6] SC: Yeah. I’ve noticed. I’ve noticed. Yes.

 

[0:03:41.8] TG: Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Then, for everybody listening, if you want to read through it, I’ll post it online in the show notes. Anyway, what’s your overall feedback?

 

[0:03:51.7] SC: My overall feedback is good. I think you’ve got — This is a really good piece of pretty well-formed clay and you’ve got some — You definitely have some work to do here. Generally, the movement of the story is interesting. You build to certain moments very, very well. Overall, the progression of the story is really coming along. The ending with the very last scene leaves us sort of with not knowing what’s going to happen now. It doesn’t make any sense, which is great. Your readers, once they reach this point, are going to be hopefully completely shocked and unsure of what’s going to happen next, which is great.

 

Like any first draft, I’m considering this the first draft of your last couple of sequences in your middle build. Any first draft, there’s some shoe leather in here, meaning scenes that are sort of pointless.

 

[0:05:00.0] TG: All right.

 

[0:05:00.8] SC: I think maybe the best way to do it is to sort of — I’ll just go scene by scene and give you my sort of general comments on — I’ll ask you to give our listeners just a brief synopsis of what the scene is about. I’ll try and sum it up quickly and then you can expound a little bit and then I think it would be good to just walk through the scene and see what the five commandments of each scene are, how irreversible the turning points are, all that kind of stuff, so that people can be reminded about the fundamental structure of each scene in terms of its inciting incident, progressive complications, crisis, climax, and resolution. Whether or not your sequence is building or losing momentum, et cetera.

 

With that said, let’s start with the first scene, which is scene number 33, and this is the scene where it’s right after the second severing, Jessie wakes up and Ernst is very upset, because he doesn’t know what happened. This is a really, really good choice that you made here, was to bring the drama and the conflict down a level. The last scene was about the brother telling Jessie that he needed her help to deal with conflict at a global level, at the biggest level possible. This complete society, he explains to her, is built on a lie, and he needs her help for him to help bring it to justice.

 

In scene number 33, there’s a tendency sometimes for us to concentrate on one global conflict level scene after scene after scene after scene, and what happens when you do that is the reader gets bored, they don’t understand what this really means at different levels of life.

 

Scene 33 is terrific, because you bring Jessie back, she’s back in the post-severing room. She’s just been unhooked, and now she has to deal with Alex and Ernst. Basically, the inciting incident of the scene is Jessie passes the second severing. The progressive complication is that Ernst is angry with her, because he has no idea what happened inside of the fictional world in the alternative reality. The last he understood, she was in deep trouble, she had coded for a lock. He knew that the lock wasn’t going to hold, and then a couple of hours later, lo and behold, she ends up surviving the severing and everything is cool.

 

The crisis for Jessie is — And Ernst actually confronts her and says, “What’s going on? You’re lying to us. You got to tell us what’s going on.” The crisis rises to Jessie. Will she tell them the truth of what happened inside the fictional reality, or won’t she? It’s a best bad choice situation here, because if she does tell them, they could really freak out. If they knew that she was involved in the situation that was going to bring down or trying to bring down the entire society, they could betray her.

 

If she doesn’t tell them, they’re not going to trust her. The climax of this scene is that she decides not to tell them. She’s going to keep the information to herself. The resolution is that Alex agrees — He basically says to her, “Look. It’s cool with me. Keep your secrets, but Ernst — It’s not good with him, because he loves you.” I have one sort of major note here, a couple of things, and this is something for the second draft. You need to create — Maybe it’s just because we’ve been away from the story for a little while, but it seemed as if Ernst went from level zero to 10 in his anger with her without you’re setting up his blowing up at her.

 

Also, the phase he loves you Jessie, I don’t think is appropriate. I think you explain it better when Alex says something like he feels — Ernst feels responsible for what happened to Ricky, and Ricky is the former coder who is now in the infirmary with his brain scrambled. I think that is a stronger explanation for Ernst’s behavior than he loves you, because it just seems too much too soon. He doesn’t really love her. He just doesn’t want somebody else to get scrambled and end up in the hospital like the last guy.

 

[0:10:21.5] TG: Yeah. The thing I’m trying to establish is Alex is just along for the ride. He’s just happy he’s still in it. He doesn’t care how they get to the threshing. He just wants to get there. Where Ernst is more attached to her not in a romantic way, but in a more brotherly, take care of, you’re my responsibility, way.

 

[0:10:44.1] SC: Yeah, I think that’s fine, but whenever you use the word love, it’s such a loaded word that it’s better that he just says, “You’re like a sister to him,” or “You’re —” He’s really close to Ricky and he doesn’t want to see what happened to Ricky happen to you. If he doesn’t know what’s going on there, he doesn’t feel like he can protect you.

 

It’s a nice way to get Alex to explain it to her, because Alex is — It’s a great exposition as ammunition situation, where you can actually have one character explain to the other character the behavior of a third character. That is the way to get across things that are difficult to hammer home. Especially in a moment — In this moment, this active moment, it’s all coming together, because Ernst doesn’t know what happened and he’s as vulnerable as anybody else, and he’s a control freak, right?

Jessie is a control freak and Ernst is a control freak, Alex just wants, as you say, to get — He wants to get his validation from third parties and he wants to become a hero. The Alex character is working very well, so as Ernst, and so as Jessie. I think I have a clear understanding in my mind of who these three people are. Obviously, if haven’t established by that now, you’d be in deep, deep trouble. That’s a really strong thing. I think it’s a strong scene, with some minor tweaks can be even better. It really brings the three person triangle of relationships to the four. As I was saying earlier, you’re bringing the conflict from extrapersonal to personal, which is a really good choice, because we need to come down from the big stakes of is this society going to survive to, “Hey! You’re lying to me. What’s up with that?” Because none of us in our own lives get to choose. It seems when we think about our own problems, we have personal problems, and then we’ve got global problems and we sort of go back and forth in our own minds about what’s bothering us the most at one particular time. We’re not analytical to the point where we deal with each of our global problems in a hierarchy. We just sort of flip-flop back and forth.

 

Storytelling has to have that same quality to it. We have to flip back and forth in concerns of the lead character. In the previous scene, her concern was, “Oh my gosh! She saw her long lost brother. Isn’t this amazing?” That’s a personal conflict, to, “Oh! I can’t even deal with that right now, because he’s telling me that the whole society is a mess and I have to help him.” It moves from personal to global, extrapersonal. Now, this scene, you’re back to personal. It’s a really nice movement and flip-flop.

 

[0:14:04.8] TG: Okay.

 

[0:14:05.5] SC: Scene 33, just some minor tweaks. Scene 34, this is kind of weak. I can see why you put it in, because we need to take a breather with the action. What you did here is you used a device, like a couple of weeks later. They’re in training for the final severing. There aren’t a lot of clear messages about the five commandments of storytelling here. The inciting incident is really weak. The inciting incident is nothing has — Her brother has not reached out to Jessie to tell her what she needs to do next. That’s sort of the inciting incident of the scene.

 

She decides that she’s going to just keep staying in the alternative reality training hoping that the wormhole is going to open again and she’ll be able to jump in and then he’ll be able to tell her what to do next. It ends with — The conflict again is between the three; Jessie, Alex, and Ernst. Alex and Ernst want to go to bed, because they’re been training for 20 hours and she doesn’t want to go to bed. They leave and then she stays in the alternative reality and then falls asleep. That’s the end of the scene.

 

Does it technically work? Yeah, it technically works, but it seems the information that you’re trying to get across in this scene is not coming through very strongly. I think this scene particularly presents an opportunity to make the circumstances of the third severing even stronger. Here’s what I’m thinking about this scene. I’m going to tell a short story. There’s this marine that I know and he wanted to become part of the recon unit, in officer training course, and he was in college. He thought, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to prepare throughout all of my senior year of college before I have to go into the recon training in June. I’m going to train so that I’m in the best possible shape possible for the recon training.”

 

They did tell him what he would have to do. He was going to have to run three miles in 20 minutes, or even shorter than that, 18 minutes or something. He was going to have to bike a certain amount of time and then he was going to have to swim a couple of miles. It’s basically a very intense triathlon with times that he had to absolutely hit. What he did is he trained and each morning he would work on his swimming and then he would go do the bike and then he would do the final run. He did that every day for 190 days, and he was in the best shape of his life. He finally gets to Camp Pendleton, or wherever they were having the recon training. He gets there and the instructor says to him, “Okay, great. You guys are all ready for your swimming and your biking and your running, right?” They’re all like, “Yes sir.” He goes, “Okay. What we’re going to do is we’re going to start with the run.”

 

He was completely thrown off, because he was expecting a certain kind of training based upon — He read the letter very, very literally. He trained himself to do the swim first, not the running first. It completely threw him off and all the other marines, so that they were thrown out of their comfort zone, and he said he barely finished under the times, because they jiggered what they were supposed to do and when they were supposed to do it.

 

The reason why I’m telling this story is that I think the opportunity here in this scene is to do something really fun on those terms, because I love the choice that you made for the final severing, which is very much an intellectual strategic gain. It doesn’t involve physicality at all. What I think you should do is, in this scene, have all these people training physically to complete exhaustion, utter exhaustion. They’re all getting in the best physical shape of their life and their training was such an intensity that they all think that they’re going to have to do some incredibly difficult physical obstacle course for the final severing.

 

By the time — What you should do is sort of buildup that training in these early chapters before the actual severing.

 

[0:19:02.8] TG: Okay.

 

[0:19:03.5] SC: Instead of her just sort of using a lock pick and going through things that aren’t really that interesting, you could have her going inside the reality and outside of the reality, because they think there’s going to be some physical task in both reality. She’s doing amazingly difficult things in and out of the reality. Alex is giving her certain kinds of endorphins to get her blood up. He’s constantly monitoring her blood pressure, how much she’s sweating, all these stuff. They’re highly training this amazing athlete to perform in some incredibly difficult situation that they all know.

 

You can refer to — Have them do some research. Like, Ernst says to her, “Look. I’ve gone through the last 20 years of the third severings and every single one of them require this. Somebody had to push a rock up a hill.” I don’t know. I’m just talking off the top of my head. Have them use evidence, sort of like what we would do if somebody said we had to perform at some later date. What I would do is I’d look and find out what people had to do for other performances of that same quality. Then I’d prepare for that. Then, I would feel confident going into that final severing, “Hey, I’m totally prepared. I’ve done everything physically possible and mentally possible to prepare for this test. I’m going to walk in there with confidence.”

 

By the time she does walk into that third severing, and all those other guys do too. When they hear what ti is, they’re going to be — It’s going to be like a stomach flu, like somebody punches them right in the solar plexus and they have to completely rejigger their thinking. That’s an opportunity for you to build something and pay it off in a much stronger way.

 

[0:21:24.5] TG: My whole goal with this scene was to just establish that time is passing and she’s not hearing from her brother. Would I basically reach those same goals but in a more interesting way with what you’re talking about?

 

[0:21:42.9] SC: Yeah, exactly, and you can her, while she’s in this training, constantly looking for a wormhole. Making mistakes and diving into — It’d be kind of funny. Because she’s so exhausted, she thinks she’s seeing an opening in the cyberspace. She goes to dive in to it and then she falls on her face and she cuts her lip, or something. They’re like, “Why did you do that?” “Oh, no reason.”

 

So that we get a sense of her flailing around trying to get information and she’s getting more and more — Having more and more anxiety about not ever hearing from her brother, that she’s getting more and more kinky. At some point there, they can confront her and say, “What are you doing? You’re making all these mistakes. It’s just not like you.” She goes, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m waiting for some information and it hasn’t come to me yet.”

 

Then you can further establish that’s she’s keeping secrets from these two, “Well, what kind of information? What are you talking about?” “Oh, forget it. I didn’t mean anything about it.” That way, the reader understands that she’s working very hard to get information from her brother that’s just not forth coming and it also make her decision to tell them about her brother, make more sense later on, because then it’s not necessarily a quid pro quo, she’s just —

 

[0:23:17.8] SC: I’m at the end of my rope.

 

[0:23:19.1] TG: Yeah, exactly. There’s no other — She has to share this information, because those other brains might be able to help her in ways that she can’t figure out herself. She has to reach a level of desperation that she has to bring those two in — You know what I mean? She has to reach a climactic moment in her thinking that she’s exhausted her own resources to get information from her brother and telling these two guys maybe they’ll come up with a better idea than she has.

 

It’s a way of entertaining the reader with some really cool active stuff. You can have Ernst program competitors for her. She has to box, she has to run, she has to — There are animal chasing her. All kinds of fun stuff. You can even open up the scene where she’s being chased by a bear or something, I don’t know. Then we figure out, “Oh! That’s a training exercise.” Use that as a way to have fun. The reader gets to watch this training exercise, and they don’t understand it’s a training exercise until the climactic moment of the scene. That way, we’re not getting bored by all the shoe leather where we’re just waiting around for them to have the third severing.

 

Using things like, “Well, in the fifth severing, in the fifth threshing, here’s some video of what they had to go through. You see, they have to jump over that cliff, and we’ve measured the cliff, and it’s 12 feet 9 inches. You have to practice your broad jump to at least 12 foot 9 inches. Maybe she can’t get that far and she freaks out about it. Something like that.

 

That scene 34, which needs some extensive attention. Scene 35 — Let’s see if I can find that. Oh, okay. Here’s another one where it’s sort of not going anywhere. It all builds up to Jessie saying, “Hey Ernst, where is that old communications room you were talking about a while ago? Can you take me there?” At the end, she agrees to tell them her secrets if he takes her there.

 

It seems kind of flat. It’s not really an interesting thing. Again, she’s making a deal. It’s a quid pro quo, “If you take me to that room, I’ll tell you my secrets.” It could be stronger, right? Again, you could do another training scene. The earlier training scene could be a live scene in the cyberspace. This one could be an intellectual thing where they’re going over past threshings and what’s happened in the third severing, and what’s she’s going to have to do.

 

From my read, she’s reached the point where she can’t figure out anything. She wants to explore the rest of the compound to see, maybe, she can find her brother. Maybe he’s in the catacombs. Maybe he’s literally downstairs in one of those abandoned communications rooms. She doesn’t know how to get there, so she asks Ernst, and he basically says, “Unless you tell me what you’ve been holding back, I’m not going to take you.” I’m not saying it doesn’t work. It does work, but it’s not exciting enough.

 

[0:27:19.5] TG: It sounds like what you’re saying is I kind of have the bones there, I just need to make it more interesting and exciting. I’m getting to the right places, just not in an interesting way.

 

[0:27:30.2] SC: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. That’s why I said this was a really solid first draft, because you’ve put your roadmap positions of your scenes in place. Now, when you go through these again on a second draft, you’re going to look at them and say, “Am I escalating the stakes here in a good way?” Because what’s going to happen if she refuses to tell Ernst her secret? Is it irreversible? No. Because tomorrow, she could tell. You want to ratchet up the tension by making these turning points irreversible.

 

[0:28:16.2] TG: Do I want every scene to be irreversible? I thought the whole idea was to — I can’t make every scene irreversible.

 

[0:28:23.7] SC: No. Exactly. You’ve already — The post-severing scene, which is scene number 33, that’s a reversible choice, because she can tell him her secrets later, but she has to reach her own point. She’s the kind of person who’s — She’s not going to ask Ernst where the communications rooms are. She’s going to explore them herself, right? She’d be like, “Forget it. I don’t want to involve this guy anymore. I can do it myself.”

 

[0:28:50.6] TG: That’s what I was thinking as you’re talking, is maybe — I have one scene that’s a training scene and another scene of her, basically, trying to get through the castle herself.

 

[0:29:01.4] SC: Yes.

 

[0:29:02.3] TG: She explores everything she possibly can. The end of her rope is, “I know there’s more to see, but I don’t know how to get there, but Ernst does.”

 

[0:29:10.9] SC: Or you could have a really nice fun moment where she’s in the catacombs and all of a sudden a light turns on. She doesn’t know, “Oh my gosh! I’m cornered. There’s no way out of here. How am I going to get out?” Of course, it’s Ernst. He’s turned on the light, and then he confronts her.

 

You can use that as a nice cliff hanger where you think, “Oh, she’s totally going to get caught now,” but it’s actually her friend. Then, she can look at him and go, “Oh man! This guy is lot smarter than I thought he was. He got down here, he knew what I was going to do and he was waiting for me. I bet he’s got a good idea about how to get into the computer system.” Then, she tells him the secret.

 

She’s actively making a choice to bring him into her world. It’s Ernst and Alex and they can be like, “What are you doing?” We’re going to think it’s somebody like Az or somebody like that. I think that a little cheap surprise will work. That’s element in the thriller where you have that moment where —

 

[0:30:23.9] TG: Yeah. You see the shadow coming around the corner and then it’s like, “Oh! Okay.”

 

[0:30:27.0] SC: Yeah, exactly, “Oh no! It’s actually her brother. Oh, good.” I think that’s a good idea to deal with that too. She’s reaching a point where she has to bring in Ernst and Alex, but she needs to exhaust all of her own personal intelligence and thoughts before she does so. Having her try and get in there herself and having those two discover her is a good answer.

 

That’s scene 35. Scene 36, I just have one note here and it says shoe leather, nothing happens. I don’t even know what that scene is about.

 

[0:31:10.5] TG: It’s basically just finding their way into — Yeah. Now that you say that, I’m like, “Nobody gives a shit about what I wrote on this.

 

[0:31:21.3] SC: That’s where they’re kind of walking around in the hall and then Alex goes, “I’ll go this way. You two go that —” It’s like a Scooby Doo episode. Okay, that’s fine.

 

Scene 37, Jessie tells them what happens. Ernst believes. Alex doesn’t. They split up. Okay. I like where you’re thinking here. What you’re thinking, it seems to me, is that Alex is a believer in the society and Ernst has been holding his suspicions about the social structure since he was introduced in the novel. You’re going to have the disbeliever and the believer, and Jessie after she explains her brother in the whole situation. Then, having Alex split up, going one way and then going another way, is a good idea. You don’t make anything of Alex’s suspicions.

 

If you’re going to open up that jar of peanut better, you’d better make a sandwich. I don’t know —

 

[0:32:29.3] TG: What? Make the sandwich.

 

[0:32:30.5] SC: Yeah. Yeah. I think you should.

 

[0:32:32.8] TG: What do you mean by that?

 

[0:32:34.4] SC: What you wisely did is you — Both of these guys don’t believe Jessie’s story. Ernst believes it, but Alex doesn’t. After Jessie says, “Hey, I went in this wormhole and my brother was there, and my brother won the last threshing, by the way, and they’ve imprisoned him instead of making him a hero.” Ernst is like, “Yeah, I can kind of believe that.” Alex is like, “No way! That’s not the way this world works. Are you kidding me? You’re a liar and your brother is a liar too. Come on. Forget about it.”

 

I think opening up that negativity and having Alex represent the true believers of the faction is a really, really good idea. The way to make a sandwich out of that is to have Alex leave and say, “I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. I think you guys are crazy. If you weren’t my teammates, I’d turn you in.”

 

Open him up as a possible person who would betray the coalition of the three. What that will do is raise even more mystery in the reader’s mind for later on, because —

 

[0:33:56.4] TG: Then a conflict will be, at some point, Alex will have to make a decision of who he’s standing by.

 

[0:34:01.2] SC: That’s right.

 

[0:34:02.6] TG: Okay.

 

[0:34:03.4] SC: Another thought occurred to me about maybe opening up one of those training sessions, is to — Remember when you had that film where 61, one of the numbered, or 81.

 

[0:34:17.3] TG: Yeah.

 

[0:34:18.3] SC: You could bring her back and have her be like a sparring partner for one of the training sessions.

 

[0:34:27.7] TG: I was planning on bringing her back to prep for the threshing. Here is my thought. In the next scene, so they find this computer that still works and looks like it’s in use and it’s basically a backdoor into the faction system. That’s what scene 38 is. The realize, and kind of the cliffhanger of the scene, is somebody’s logged in to this computer within the last few days when this whole section of the capital is supposed to be abandoned.

 

My thinking is — What I was planning on doing is bringing her back. Hey had brought her back to help train, but she’s in league with her brother, with Jessie’s brother, because she had been training him — She was on his team in the last threshing. She’s using that computer to do things she — Under the capitals without them knowing what’s going on.

 

[0:35:31.6] SC: Yeah, that works.

 

[0:35:32.2] TG: Okay. That was my thinking. At some point, I got — One is the whole way I set up the whole computer terminal work — Because what I’ve been thinking was there’s so many — I’ll start thinking though other books I’ve read and there’s always this mission they end up on that’s completely pointless. At the end of the book, it was like they were completely on the wrong trail. They were doing this thing that they thought would get them to this place and it doesn’t get them there.

 

What I was thinking was Jessie is desperate to find anything. They find this computer that’s a backdoor, so she’s like, “Oh, that’s how I’m going to find my brother.” It only ends up biting them in the ass and not getting them anything. I’ll have to close the loop of the computer at some point, so that’s how I was planning on doing it.

 

[0:36:22.2] SC: That works. I think — That’s a good choice, because when it’s too easy for them to figure out how the brother was in that cyberspace, then it’s not going to work. It just seems — Yeah.

 

[0:36:36.3] TG: You had said not to have — Because I said, “Yeah, then the brother is going to help them to the death.” You’re like, “No. No. No. Have the brother not show up again.”

 

[0:36:44.4] SC: Yes.

 

[0:36:44.6] TG: She’s on her own. This whole sequence is her flailing, trying to figure out how to reestablish contact, or find him, or something. When they find this open computer, she’s like, “Oh! This is how we’re going to do it,” even though it’s not.

 

[0:37:02.9] SC: Yeah, that totally works. The computer stuff seems absolutely fine. It’s a little familiar, but I think it kind of needs to be familiar. Meaning, where they find the passcode, and the hacking, and them watching Ernst as he types on the typewriter pad. It’s a little familiar, but I think sometimes you have to have those tropes. A trope is just a little piece of business in a story that people expect.

 

[0:37:38.3] TG: Yeah. That’s why I put — Basically, there’s a post-it note on the bottom of the keyboard with the password, because that’s where everybody sticks a password.

 

[0:37:45.6] SC: Yeah. I think that worked. I think it totally worked, and I think you set it up well so that that’s why Ernst has to be away in the third severing. All right, chapter 38, they get into the main frame, and then chapter 39, they have a debriefing where Ernst is going to tell Alex how to do the job in the basement while she’s in the threshing, or in the severing. Then, at the end of the scene, they decide that Ernst has to be the one to do it. I think that’s okay. It’s a softer scene. That’s bit of a pause. It’s sort of what you do before you launch into your fifth action scene.

 

I think if you could possibly combine the 38 and 39 scenes into one more compelling scene, that would be better, because it seems a little bit, “Okay. Okay. We get it. They’re in the main frame. Yeah. It’s just stupid. All right. Enough already.”

 

[0:38:55.7] TG: All of that is going to change anyway if Alex is not — If I’m taking his doubts further.

 

[0:39:01.9] SC: That’s right. I think taking his doubts further is a really good idea, because then you set up the thing, “Will he betray them, or won’t he? Is he one of the team or not?”
 

[0:39:12.9] TG: Yeah, because then in the scene, when Arnold confronts him about where Ernst is, that will be the point where he has to make a decision. I could pump up that drama a little bit more, because, right now, he just kind of jumps in and gives an excuse and lies and gets them past it. I could build the drama up a little more where he finally has to — He keeps trying to doss a decision and then he finally has to make a decision.

 

[0:39:39.4] SC: Yes. Good choice.

 

[0:39:41.3] TG: That’s scene 40. Overall, so far, if I bump up the action and make it more interesting for scene 34 and 35, I’m going to cut 36 and then start creating some tension and suspense with Alex and what he’s going to do in 37. Then, 38 and 39, kind of build to the point where Ernst is going to go off on his own. This is how they’re going to try to break in. Alex is going to play the coms role and medic role for Jessie in the last severing. Right before they go into the severing, Alex, it kind of comes to a point where he has to make a decision and he’ll, of course, decide, or maybe he should decide to give her and stop. I don’t know. That would be more surprising.

 

[0:40:40.1] SC: I don’t think he would give him up, because he doesn’t really believe that Jessie and Ernst are going to save the world. Why would he think that Jessie and Ernst and some mystical vision that Jessie had is going to bring down the faction? If I say to you, “Tim, I’ve decided that the entire publishing industry is corrupt, and I’m going to bring it down.” You would go, “Oh! Okay. Yeah.” I go, “Will you help me?” You go, “Uh, well yeah, it depends on what you need. If it’s going to further my career a little bit, yeah, I’ll help you, but I don’t truly believe you’re ever going to bring down the publishing industry, Shawn.”

 

That’s kind of the way I think Alex is viewing this, and that’s the decision he makes. He’s going to say, “Oh, no. He’s sick,” because Alex believes that for whatever reason, the person that he got stuck with turns out to be a pretty damn good player and his chances are pretty good that Jessie, even though she’s a wackadoo, is going to get through that third severing and then his family is going to benefit and he will benefit. There’s no chance she’s going to bring down the faction. That’s ridiculous.

 

He’s going to, like a really smart Machiavellian player, do what’s good for him by making Jessie believe that he’s on her side. I think it still works, and you can even make a joke of that later on at the end of the book when she says to him, “You know? I was just so impressed that you stood up for Ernst.” He’d be like, “Well, any idiot — There’s no way I thought you would ever win. I was just trying to do better than whatever his choice is.” If he gives up Ernst, then they’re thrown out and he has to go back to Shitsville or wherever he’s from.

 

[0:42:44.9] TG: Right.

 

[0:42:46.2] SC: I think it works for him to lie. Also, he also makes up that white lie and he goes, “Well, he told me he was going there. I don’t know. If you call up there, he might not be there. I don’t know.” Just like a wheezily way of —

 

[0:43:01.5] TG: Not committing.

 

[0:43:02.6] SC: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

 

[0:43:03.9] TG: Yeah. We’re on scene 40. With the bumping up the drama that we talked about, does scene 40 work?

 

[0:43:12.5] SC: Yeah, I think so. I like the fact that they think they’re going to be in their own private little cubicle and then they get there and it’s a really nice progressive complication, “Oh! Great. Now, we have to perform in front of everybody, and everybody gets to see what everybody else is doing. This isn’t so great. What are we going to do about Ernst? He’s down in the basement.” It’s a nice progressive complication to the sequence and to the book. It raises the stakes.

 

[0:43:42.6] TG: I was trying to create a scenario where Ernst’s absence is noticed. They thought they would just like he’d be in and out, no big deal. Nobody would even know he was gone, because everybody is off in their own bay, but now they’re in the same room and everybody notices that it’s just Jessie and Alex.

 

[0:44:00.3] SC: It’s great. It totally works. It was a really good decision.

 

Let’s get into the third severing. Again, I love the choice of making it. Did you make up this game providence?

 

[0:44:15.1] TG: Yeah. This was the hardest part to come up with this. As I’m realizing, my method of writing is basically to put it off as long as possible while I try to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing, and then I just write the whole thing at once. I reached out to a good friend of mine who has read every comic book ever created. His mind is full of all of these worlds. I was like, “Dude, I need something to — Because I could not figure out how to do this last severing, because I needed —” Spoiler alert. “I needed Az to kill her — I needed her to win and then Az to kill her.”

 

I made that decision ahead of time, which was however we’re doing this, I want her to clearly win, but then Az kills her. I didn’t want it — Because we talked about before how the first two severing, she kind of skated by. She got lucky. I need that to happen. I needed something where I’ve really wanted something intimate, where the other two, everybody was spread out kind of on their own trying to take care of themselves. I wanted them in a place where they were super intimate, right in front of each other, which means it can’t be super action.

 

I walk my buddy through. The first severing, I was like — It was almost like capture the flag. The second was this game of hide and seek. He’s like, “Do something like kid related.” He’s like, “Both of those games you play as a kid.” He’s like, “The third game should be another game that you play as a kid.” I’m like, “Okay. What’s an intimate setting that you play as a kid?” I’m like, “Oh! It should be like a board game, or something. Some kind of — Like Monopoly, or — Monopoly is too — I wanted something super logic-based.

 

I just came up with the game providence and knights and peasants, because I was trying to just think of some kind of future version of chess with six players. I went back and read — My buddy, Josh Kaufman, wrote a book called The First 20 Hours, how he learned all these different skills, and he learned this game Go, which is super intricate and super logic-based.

 

I went back and read — Because he has this whole explanation of the game. I went back and read that chapter and I just came up with this idea of these knights and peasants and that kind of thing. Then, I also wanted — I wanted a logic base, but I wanted some kind of chance in it too. My first thought was they’ll be Russian roulette. There’s a gun and you put a bullet in the chamber and you spin it and every time you lose a peasant, you’d get this gun.

 

Then, I’m like, “I don’t know. A gun is a little much, and we already talked about guns. When I brought a gun in that, I’m going to have a change later.” I didn’t want them shooting each other in the face. That was a little too much, because this is young adult. I’m thinking, I want Connor, my son, to be able to read this. I think them shooting each other in the face would be a little much.

 

That’s where I came up with the idea of — I was reading. I started just Googling — with so many of these things that I’m Googling. It’s like if you didn’t know I was writing a book and looked at my Google history, you’d be like, “This guy’s sadistic,” because I’m looking up like “Russian Roulette variation”s, “different ways to play Russian Roulette”. I’m looking at all these things. Then, I saw that a bunch of casinos have Russian Roulette style games, and I was like, “Oh! I’ll just do a deck of cards.”

 

There will be red cards and white cards and every time you lose a peasant, you got to draw a card. So you either lose by losing all your peasants or by drawing the wrong cards. You get logic, because it’s moving the pieces on the board, and I’d get some chance in there, because I need to cut the first two people, because there’s six and it’s going down to three. I got to get it down to her and the three bad guys pretty quick. I used the logic part where I didn’t have to — I felt like it added a nice back and forth. So I’m trying to save my pieces. I have three, but I could die on the first one.

 

That took me about a week and a half to finally figure out what I was going to do for this thing, and that’s kind of the path I took. Because then it gave me a chance to where, at the very end, she barely pulls out a win and the guy she beat is going to die on his next turn, because — Oh! I introduced too that they die in this setting and I tried to do that in a surprising way. Right before he — That fourth person was going to die, because she beat him at the last second, Az just flips out and dives at her and chokes her and kills her. Anyway, that was basically those three scenes.

 

[0:49:28.0] SC: It’s a great game. It was really, really believable and interesting. I love the name of it. I could see the Tim Grahl Providence Board Game on sale now from Parker Brothers.

 

[0:49:43.5] TG: There’s no actual rules, because if you —

 

[0:49:46.3] SC: You have to think of them and we’ll give away board games when you publish it. A couple of notes about the thing. Generally, it’s fantastic. Generally, it works. The payoff is terrific. Again, when you have a very intricate, intelligent payoff like this, the setup becomes so crucial, because you need to really make the reader believe in their heart of hearts that she’s going to have to run a marathon, swim a thousand miles with sharks biting on her feet. You really must make the reader believe that it’s going to be a hugely difficult physical challenge. So that when you do bring in this payoff, it’s going to be astounding to them.

 

[0:50:36.9] TG: Okay.

 

[0:50:38.1] SC: A couple of other notes about the chapter. When they get into the alternative reality, don’t have them in an intimate space.

 

[0:50:48.5] TG: Really?

 

[0:50:49.1] SC: Yeah. You really want to make this extremely surprising. When they get in to the world, it’s almost like a Hunger Game setting. They’re in the middle of this massive ecological phenomenon. They can hear wild animals. They can hear everything. They’re sort of in this clearing and they can just — Maybe there’s some sort of iron fence around them. Then, as they’re standing there waiting for directions, they all think they’re going to have to run and get to another place and go through this amazing physical, horrifying travail.

 

You want to build up in the earlier scenes where Ernst kind of explains these previous severings and what these people had to go through. They had to go through a desert, and then they had to go over a volcano, all that kind of stuff. When they land there, it’s exactly as they expected. They’re all ready to run. Then, President Marcus arrives and he comes out of a cave or something. He’s a like vision who comes out of the clearing. He walks up to them and they’re all expecting him to say, “Okay. Here’s your spear and you’ve got nine hours to kill that mammoth over there.” Instead, what he dies, is he waives his arms and this beautiful black table rises from the earth and six chairs are next to the table.”

 

Then, he goes into the explanation of the providence game. Now, they are ready to — The hardest beating — You could even have Alex reporting to Ernst, her heart rate is so high now. I don’t know how she’s going to last. Then, they sit down and play the game. When one of the people die, don’t make it so unexciting. Make it very Hunger Gamesish. They draw the red card and instead of their blood coming out of their nose, maybe their seat, straps go around them and the seat goes into the wilderness. We hear them screaming and they’re destroyed that way.

 

We don’t actually watch them witness then dying, we hear them dying. When Jessie says — Ernst goes, “What’s going on? What’s going on?” She goes, “I don’t know. Check with the other coms guy. All I hear is screaming.” Maybe later — Hold the information as long as you can that these people are dying. They’re not just being scrambled. They’re dying.

 

That will escalate the tension in the scene so that by the time you reach the place where it’s her — I love the alliance with the other girl, and I love the way you set up this guy snickering at her and then he makes that fatal mistake and she wins. My last note is have Az kill Jessie, but not so dramatically. There’s an old movie that was really upsetting and terrific, it was called Midnight Express, and it was this story of this guy who is in Turkey and he was trying to smuggle hashish across the border. It’s based on a true story. They catch him and they throw him in prison and he’s just tortured in prison and it’s all these horrible stuff. He finally is in his room alone with the guys that headed the prison and the guy tries to assault him. Instead, our hero pushes the guy very, very hard, and the guy falls and stumbled back and he falls into a hook that’s in the wall and it goes right through his cerebral cortex and he dies. It was sort of an accidental death. I think that’s the way Az has to kill Jessie. He gets so much rage that he attacks her and he pushes her chair and she falls and hits her head on a rock or something. To have Az literally standing with feet on her chest and straggling her, it’s just too much. It’s got to be an accidental rage moment where it’s just one of those things that accidentally happened.

 

[0:55:40.2] TG: Why does it have to be that way?

 

[0:55:42.8] SC: Because he is going to end up becoming the hero in the threshing. He’s going to save her. To have him —

 

[0:55:52.5] TG: Him killing her is just — He can’t come back from that.

 

[0:55:55.8] SC: No. He can’t come back from that. He has to accidentally kill her. Also, you have to remember, he probably wouldn’t kill her because he wants to be in the threshing, right? He doesn’t know that — I’m sure it’s frowned upon for these contestants to kill one another.

 

[0:56:15.7] TG: My thinking was what’s she’s — I referenced it one of the scenes when they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do, which is basically, “Look. We’re the last ones, so we have some leeway here, because they’re not going to get rid of us. That was my thinking, was he was basically — It would be a way to — At the end of the Hunger Games, when they both take the berries. They basically twist the hand of the powers that be to let them both live. My thinking was like he’s basically forcing their hand, because if she’s dead and the other two are dead, they have to have three, so he’s going to be let in.

 

[0:56:55.5] SC: Yeah. I think Az is less — He’s not a brutal force. Yeah, I don’t think he’s absolutely evil. I think he’s a true believer in the system. I could see him getting so angry that he pushes her, because she winks on him and there’s just like — He has ticket, but “I just beat you.”

 

I could see him having the rage, but that strangling is no small thing. You literally feel somebody else’s life leaving. You have to a very — You have at a level that is just — The reader is just not going to like him from that point forward. They could have sympathy for him losing his temper and accidentally killing her. That’s my gut on it. I think if you want him to redeem himself at the end —

 

[0:57:53.6] TG: Yeah, that’s the plan.

 

[0:57:54.6] SC: Yeah.

 

[0:57:55.7] TG: What is you can’t come back from somebody who strangles somebody like that? What if he actually attacks the guy that lost out of rage and when she tries to stop him is when he like turns and knocks her back and she smacks her head on the table or something?

 

[0:58:14.2] SC: Yeah.

 

[0:58:14.8] TG: Okay.

 

[0:58:15.9] SC: That’s good. I think that works better. That sets up — Her death is an accidental thing. You can either — Even after she recovers and they’re preparing for the threshing, you could have a moment where the tribunal has met about Az and it’s been recommended that he be allowed to be in the threshing, because the assault was ruled accidental. There could be some question of whether or not they’re going to allow him. They reviewed the tape and it was absolutely an accidental occurrence. That way, you opened him up to redemption at the end of the story in a way that the reader will feel, “Oh, I guess he wasn’t really a bad guy after all. He was really only in it to help the faction. He was a true believer who died for a cause.”

 

[0:59:18.3] TG: Okay.

 

[0:59:19.9] SC: Again, that’s 10,000 words of solid stuff that can be absolutely manipulated and maneuvered at a really way. Now, the place — You’re 45,000 words in by the time you do an edit of this stuff. You’re probably end up adding 3,000 to 5,000, you’re at 50,000, and you’ve got 10,000 to 12,000 word ending payoff, I think, in your future here. I think you’ve reached your All Is Lost moment right here, right now.

 

[0:59:54.7] TG: I don’t know — I never know, is the All Is Lost moment when the actions that calls the All Is Lost moment happen, or is it like the next scene when everybody is like, “Well, shit. What do we got to do now?” What I was trying to do is get to the point where the next scene is everybody — When you turn the page to the next scene, you’re like, “I have no idea how they’re going to get out of this hole.”

 

[1:00:21.4] SC: Yeah, exactly.

 

[1:00:23.2] TG: That’s what I was trying to reach here, is like —

 

[1:00:24.3] SC: This is the bottom of the trough. This is the bottom of a trough, and the next scene is a bargaining situation where the powers that be are now going to have to figure out, “Oh, where do we go from here? We lost this entire team. What’s going on with Ernst? What’s going on with Alex? Jessie is dead. What do we do?

 

[1:00:48.8] TG: Yeah. I don’t know what to do. You told me to get into a hole I didn’t know to get out of.

 

[1:00:54.8] SC: Great!

 

[1:00:55.5] TG: I just kept trying to dig in as deep as I could, because I thought for it to be All Is Lost, it cannot be just Jessie. It had to be all three of them and bad straights. Jessie is dead, Ernst and Alex are in Shitsville, and the brother is still kind of lost. We don’t know what happened to him. Everybody is at a loss. I’m not sure — That was my next question is, “What’s the next sequence?” It’s the aftermath of everybody trying to figure out what to do. I’ve got to figure out some kind of dramatic way that she wakes up and she’s fine and then I got to — Basically, I’ve got to get to the preparation for the threshing, because that’s when we’ll go into the ending payoff, right?

 

[1:01:50.2] SC: Yes. Actually, the ending payoff begins in your next scene, because the threshing is your final nine chapters, or whatever. It’s the moment — In Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, the confrontation scene with Buffalo Bill is — It’s 3,000 words at the very — I think it’s about five scenes from the end is when it starts. There’s the moment when Starling goes to Belvedere, Ohio, is the beginning of the ending payoff, when she rejects the old rules of the FBI and goes rogue, is the moment when the ending payoff begins. Your ending payoff is going to begin with — Essentially, let’s logically walk it through. These people who die at this providence game, they are going to believe in their brains that they were ripped apart to shreds by ravenous animals and they will have a heart attack and die, but their bodies won’t be destroyed, because it’s all imaginary.

 

When the bodies are laid out, they have to disconnect these dead people from the courts to get them into a coffin, or whatever, or if they’re going to an incinerator, or whatever. You could have a scene where maybe Ernst and Alex are being and they’re having their ranks stripped and they have one last request, “Yeah. What’s that?” “We would like to say goodbye to Jessie.” “She’d dead.” “We would like to pay our last respects to her body.” And so they go to the room where she’s still plugged in and they’re standing over and Ernst says something like, “I’d like to be one to take the cord off.” They’re like, “Yeah, whatever. Go ahead.” He does and that’s the moment when she resurrects.

 

It’s a nice thematic moment, because she’s the only one who sees reality clearly. When she’d disengaged from the phony world, she lives. While other people, once they leave the phony world, they can put up anymore. I think you could do something interesting like that which will — You want to kind of build to that scene, so you don’t want it to be the very next scene. It could be Az in front of a tribunal, being the scene we discussed, where he’s — They’re determining whether or not he should — He and his team should be part of the threshing or not, because if they lose Az, then they only have team for the threshing. Right?

 

[1:04:55.3] TG: I have a couple of questions on this. One is every scene in the book so far is from Jessie’s point of viEW: There’s nothing — We don’t see anything happening that she’s not seeing.

 

[1:05:09.4] SC: That’s right. This will be — I’ve wondered, “Does this —” The next scene, she’s not — She’s dead. She could be in the room, I guess. I guess it’s not a big deal that we’ll have one or two scenes where she’s not.

 

[1:05:11.3] TG: This will be — I’ve wondered, “Does this —” The next scene, she’s not — She’s dead. She could be in the room, I guess. I guess it’s not a big deal that we’ll have one or two scenes where she’s not.

 

[1:05:27.7] SC: You could make. You could make another choice. You could do something radical where you take up the voice of another character and have them describe the precedings that happened after this. This is the moment you could bring back 81 and say, “I came to the Capital on blank and I was there to train the final members of the threshing.” She could be the one who’s reporting what’s happening, or you could do —

 

[1:06:06.0] TG: What if it’s her brother? Because he’s in the middle of his own All Is Lost is he just lost her. He’s going to think she’s dead to. He could watch the tribunal, because it’s going to be in the digital world. He could be watching everything that’s going on.

 

[1:06:23.5] SC: he could be describing the death of his sister in the hopes that he can get that message to their parents. Could use that as a device.

 

[1:06:36.2] TG: Okay. I think that gives me enough ideas. I’ll pick one that fits.

 

[1:06:41.1] SC: Always remember. Don’t worry about, “Oh! This is going to make the whole 45,000 words not work, because there are narrative devices and tricks that you can use to go back and revise. There’s a novel I talk about all the time that I edited years ago, that Steve’s second novel, Gates of Fire, Steve Pressfield. Steve uses a story within the story as that structure, where you have the sole survivor of the Battle of Thermopylae explaining the warrior Ethos in Spartan way of life to King Xerxes who had just destroyed and killed all 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. He goes and he tells the entire story of his indoctrination into the Spartan world all the way through the climactic battle at the very end of the novel.

 

I don’t know if Steve wrote a lot of that stuff before he put that narrator in, but it could be perfectly possible that he wrote the entire novel and then said, “I need a device here that will make this make sense. Why don’t I have the sole survivor of the Battle of Thermopylae pulled out of a pile of dead bodies, have him taken to the tents of King Xerxes and have King Xerxes ask him a very pointed question, “What kind of men were these Spartans? How the hell did they standup for three days against hundreds of thousands of my best soldiers?”

 

The slave, the sole survivor is given some wine and something to eat and he goes, “Let me explain to you what the Spartan way of life is.” Then, he goes all the way back to his own life and how he became associated with the Spartans. You might be able to use that device later on. You don’t know. My point is that don’t freak out if you have to tweak it. I like the fact that she has reached a literal death at the end of the middle build, and I think you’re going to figure out a way to solve that problem, but my only point is that don’t get too discouraged or freaked out that now you can’t have the same device that you’ve had for the first 45,000 words. There are ways around that and there are narrative devices and tricks that the reader will accept and, in fact, really embrace. I hope that helps.

 

[1:09:24.9] TG: Yeah, I know. That’s good. We got to figure out why everybody is got to make decisions about what to do next. Then, she’s going to come back to life. Then, they got to make another decision, which is basically we’re going to kick out this loser that lost and put her back in his place, because she’s back now. There’s got to be some kind of addressing of, like, they all now know she’s the special one, because if she can die, but not actually die, they have a good chance of winning the threshing, because she can do things that nobody else can do.

 

[1:10:09.1] SC: That’s right. They all believe in her, but she doesn’t believe in herself. She’s got to have a tremendous amount of stress on her by the time she enters the threshing, but she doesn’t understand what her special gift is. To her, she never died, she just woke up and she was in the area. You can even have her not know what the hell is going on and maybe her brother or 81 has to explain to her, “Here’s the situation, you died and you came back to lie, that’s why people are treating you differently now. Our thinking is that you have a chance of winning the threshing, because you can die.” She goes, “I don’t know that I can die.” “You can.”

 

[1:10:54.2] TG: There’s still that — There’s this — I watched the Jessica Jones series and she partners with Luke Cage who has — He can’t be hurt. His skin is impenetrable. She was asking, “Have you tried this? Have you tried this?” Finally — I forgot how he said it. Basically, he’s like, “Look. I don’t want to find out what I can’t do, what I can’t withstand.”

 

There’s this level of just because she came back once, does not mean she’ll come back again. By the time we reached the threshing, however I get there, we’re going to have her brother, we’re going to have 86, we’re going to have Ernst and Alex, her, as in Craig, and all of these players moving into this thing at the same time. I’ve got to figure out what the threshing is and she’s got to win it, but win it in a way where she burns down everything, because that’s my end. My end is not that she wins the threshing. My end is that she unravels the society.

 

[1:12:06.4] SC: Yeah. Good.

 

[1:12:05.8] TG: Oh God! I have no idea how I’m going to pull that off.

 

[1:12:11.2] SC: That’s good. That’s good. That’s really good. If you had an answer for all that right now, it probably wouldn’t be a very good book.

 

[1:12:18.1] TG: Okay.

 

[1:12:18.5] SC: The very difficult thing about writing is you can plan until you’re blue in the face, but if you are so confident that you are perfectly nailing every moment, you probably aren’t. You’re probably telegraphing how things are going to end in such an obvious way that readers won’t buy into it. That was the problem with your first draft of your novel back a year ago, is that you had planned it so meticulously that it was obvious what was going to happen from page one. Now, since you’ve had to completely change everything all the time and you’ve written yourself into a really drastic hole, your imagination has to really kick into overdrive to solve these problems.

 

If you can setup the problems, you can solve — That’s the thing that people don’t understand, is that you have the imagination to get yourself in such a massive plot hole that you can’t figure out the solution, the truth is, is that you can figure out the solution, but you just don’t know it yet. If you can plan the problem, you can plan the solution.

 

[1:13:35.7] TG: Should I worry about going back and fixing any of these scenes, or should I just keep — I took notes on what you said to change, or should I just keep pushing forward? Because it sounds like I got the story elements right, I just need to make them more interesting and exciting.

 

[1:13:54.4] SC: Yes. Keep writing. Keep writing. Yeah. Try and do the post-death trio scenes afterwards and we’ll see what turns up.

 

[1:14:09.2] TG: Okay. All right, I’ll get to work.

 

[1:14:11.7] SC: Okay.

 

[END OF EPISODE]

 

[1:14:12.7] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Story Grid Podcast. For everything Story Grid related, checkout storygrid.com. Make sure you pick up a copy of the book and sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss anything happening in the Story Grid universe.

 

If you’d like to check out the show notes for this episode or any past episodes, all of that can be found at storygrid.com/podcast. If you’d like to reach out to us, you could find us on Twitter @StoryGrid. Lastly, if you would like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on iTunes and leaving a rating and review.

 

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