1. ILaughAtTrailers
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    ILaughAtTrailers Member

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    How do you divide a story into 13 episodes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ILaughAtTrailers, Oct 11, 2016.

    Let's say you had to do it as an experiment: turn your story into 13 equally-timed episodes. How would you do it? How would you "plan it out" I guess is what I'm asking. I'm really trying to do it with my story and need some help.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like for TV?

    I think you need to have 13 mini-stories, all contributing to the larger plot. So each episode resolves at least something, but also contributes to the resolution of the larger issue.
     
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  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    IMO the best thing to do first would be to come up with thirteen climactic events, and make sure that they're well-placed - ie big revelations etc don't land in awkward places (midpoint and end being ideal). If you're working off an existing story, it might be hard to rejigger into thirteen parts, but each needs to stand more or less on its own merits, so more content might be necessary - subplots, yknow. Using them to build character is probably best. A series/show-length project should have different pacing than a novel/movie-length one, so slowing down the main plot and padding it out with relevant subplots, built around your thirteen climactic events, seems like the way to go.
     
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  4. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Does it have to be 13 episodes? I assume you are turning your story into a script for tv. Can't you just write each episode a see how many you get when you are done?
     
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  5. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since you said episodes it really sounds like a TV series which I believe the director/producer/etc. would simply leave parts of the story on the editing floor, might stretch a scene, give it another point of view that wasn't in the original story, and so on. I seriously doubt that any video production studio would use a work intact. Having thirteen climatic events, or more, as izzybot said and the higher goal that BayView has stated really seem to be the only thing the writer might control. I also think AASmith is right, don't stretch something just to meet that goal, watch "Under the Dome" to see a really bad example of that.
     
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  6. TheWriteWitch
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    TheWriteWitch Senior Member

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    You could expand your original story using the traditional Hero's Quest?

    Not every episode has to have a cliffhanger. Episodes can end with revelations, choices, travel, search for aid, obstacles (that seem insurmountable), etc.

    If you are talking tv/film, just think about your overall story in beats: there was this character and one day this happened and then this, so he/she did this but realized he/she needed this . . .

    I love these sort of challenges!
     
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  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or, if your current episode is a little short, insert some sub-plot; a romantic twist, a secondary mission of minor importance but which fleshes out a character, or which presages a later development...
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you look at novels that were also adapted to TV series, you'll find that they weren't just divided into X number of episodes. Even a novel that was very episodic in nature - M*A*S*H. Some events in the novel are dropped, new ones added; characters are altered, new ones added, some old ones dropped. Moreover, the very nature of TV is that networks seek an ongoing franchise. M*A*S*H was on for a decade, and introduced new major characters and story lines. Another episodic novel that was later adapted for TV - The Paper Chase, a novel about a first year law student - lasted four years.
     
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  9. ILaughAtTrailers
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    ILaughAtTrailers Member

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    I like this idea very much. But how would you do it exactly? Say you were doing a season of Star Wars; you'd seriously have to come up with 13 events? I guess you would have to. It's so difficult. How do these people in Hollywood do it?

    This is in the same vein as the one before. And I still like it very much. But still confused. Would each event be based on the main character or a different character? How do you make a subplot of the main plot? Romance, mystery? I guess I'll have to do some thinking. These are all very good points.

    I was thinking of this. I was analyzing Cowboy Bebop (the anime) and its sessions and noticed that its 26-sessions were split up into two parts (the first and second half). What I saw also was that the first half and second half had roughly 4-6 filler episodes give or take. And I thought it was pretty to realize because if you just start writing the episodes, and see where you get, then you can just fill the rest with filler. But the hard part really is to get a story going.

    Well I'm mostly doing it for myself because I don't think I'm a very good writer. I'd like it to be a spec or something or like a hobby that I can look back on and be proud of.

    I like your last point. Making each episode about a character and their revelations and how that could lead something to the larger story. That's kind of what I'm working on now but it feels very blocky if you know what I mean or episodic and not serialized like how I want it.

    Yeah most tv shows do this. They A-stories, B-stories, C-stories, and then sometimes D-stories. But it would have to be consisted for every episode I think. Mad Men and the Sopranos does this very well.

    Well what if I'm writing a novel that I want to be divided into 13 parts?

    I'd really appreciate still more advice. I want to get the bottom of this. One thing I noticed is that most episodes are divided into four acts, right? The teaser, act 1, act 2, act 3, and act 4. Well what I saw when looking at 13 episodes is that it can be divided into four parts as well:

    Part 1 - setup
    Episode 1
    Episode 2
    Episode 3

    Part 2 - complication
    Episode 4
    Episode 5
    Episode 6

    Midpoint - something big
    Episode 7

    Part 3 - aftermath
    Episode 8
    Episode 9
    Episode 10

    Part 4 - climax
    Episode 11
    Episode 12
    Episode 13

    I don't know if that helps any of you in looking at this but it has kind of helped me and it really only applies to serialized stories. I really want to get down to the bottom of this, which I think I've already said. Do I work backwards? How do I come up with 13 climactic events? This is kind of why I asked the questions in other threads like how to create immediate conflict. Is the trick to just keep adding characters and drama?
     
  10. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you are over thinking this. It isn't perfectly clear to me what your goal is but if you are simply trying to create a story with specific framework, thirteen major events, then I think you might not end up with something you will stand back and say "that was great work." What makes a particular situation climatic is how you treat it in the story. Some people are drama-queens, no offense meant to females, and they make anything into a big deal, 'the peas are touching my mashed potatoes,' while shoving the plate away. Obviously no one is going to consider that a major event, however you can create what appears to be a major event only to have it become trivial later. Life is that way, we fear something happening and when it does, it doesn't necessarily turn out to be so bad after all. Furthermore if you simply wrote your story as you really want it told, then analyze it, you can probably find many parts that had a dramatic feel to them and you can simply capitalize on those. Small shifts in how the action unfolds and you can space them out as evenly as desired IMO. Keep in mind I am not much of a writer so take my advice with a grain of salt.
     
  11. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    I've started turning one of my short stories into a novel (hopefully). The story takes place over a 12 or 13 month period and the passing of the seasons is an important feature of the book. Each chapter, or month, also has key revelations, hopefully (there's that word again) building to a climax in the last chapter.

    Caveat: This will be my first novel, so don't take my advice with anything other than a pinch of salt.
     
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  12. Jeff Countryman
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    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

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    All great ideas and suggestions posted here. I'm curious if the episodes are being published with some time for reader feedback in between thus allowing the audience to influence the plot lines and character development with their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas (that might be more like a serial story than one written in episodes). I'm not so sure a 'reading' audience appreciates the episode fashion of presentation as much as the 'TV' audience does and how well it crosses over in written format. I'd feel cheated and ripped off if an entire 1,000 page novel that was pre-written as a whole was simply chopped up into thirteen "episodes" and sold to me in pieces (I don't get a sense that's you're plan - you seem to want to create a true written form of 13 episodes which, again, I'm not sure will crossover very well to a reading audience). I like the advice above about simply 'writing the whole story you have in your mind and worry about the structure later' - ie, just get writing!!

    Cheers,
    Jeff

    Edited to add another thought......be careful not to use the same plot structure in each episode as it will become very obvious and mundane to the reader. Such as a mystery in one, a love story in another, a chase-and-capture-and escape in another, a tragedy in another, an adventure in another, a mind-set change in another, etc. that's the whole problem with trying to block it all out into pre-set 'episodes' rather than one continuous novel with chapters and plots and subplots running.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
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  13. ILaughAtTrailers
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    ILaughAtTrailers Member

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    This is good advice. Kind of like Cowboy Bebop I feel.
     
  14. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    You section it, like Ordinary World, New World, Separation etc. See the examples at https://www.youtube.com/user/clickokDOTcoDOTuk/videos

    If you look very carefully, Harry Potter does this: Harry's in Privet Drive, has to leave, enters Hogwarts etc.
     

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