1. ILaughAtTrailers

    ILaughAtTrailers Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    43

    How do you divide a story into 13 episodes?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' 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

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,380
    Likes Received:
    8,185
    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.
     
    deadrats and ILaughAtTrailers like this.
  3. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    1,663
    Likes Received:
    2,049
    Location:
    SC, USA
    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.
     
    ILaughAtTrailers likes this.
  4. AASmith

    AASmith Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2015
    Messages:
    287
    Likes Received:
    119
    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?
     
    ILaughAtTrailers likes this.
  5. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Central Florida: land of fire and sand
    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.
     
    ILaughAtTrailers likes this.
  6. TheWriteWitch

    TheWriteWitch Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    111
    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!
     
    ILaughAtTrailers likes this.
  7. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,412
    Likes Received:
    1,965
    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...
     
    ILaughAtTrailers likes this.
  8. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,864
    Likes Received:
    2,775
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    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.
     
    ILaughAtTrailers and tonguetied like this.
  9. ILaughAtTrailers

    ILaughAtTrailers Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    43
    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

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Central Florida: land of fire and sand
    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

    Scot Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2016
    Messages:
    366
    Likes Received:
    326
    Location:
    Argyll, Scotland
    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.
     
    ILaughAtTrailers and tonguetied like this.
  12. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2015
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    Canada
    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
    tonguetied likes this.
  13. ILaughAtTrailers

    ILaughAtTrailers Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2015
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    43
    This is good advice. Kind of like Cowboy Bebop I feel.
     
  14. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    63
    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.
     
  15. msymms

    msymms New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Okay, so here is a question along the same lines. I have a series of X novels in mind. I am familiar with the structure of a novel, with hook, plot points pinch and so forth. So, I want the series to have, obviously, a larger story arc that climaxes and resolves in the last book, along with several subplots regarding relationships and setups for maybe something later post-series. The question is ... For the overall plot/arc does the timing for the various points still apply? When in the series do I set the hook for the overall plot? When is the first plot point? Do I keep the same structure percentages (i.e. inciting event within 15%-20%) of the work; which may not fall within in the first book?

    TIA
    -mark
     
  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,793
    Likes Received:
    3,455
    Location:
    The People's Republic of New Hampshire
    Very early.

    Almost immediately.

    Not if you want to the reader to keep reading beyond page 5 of the first book.

    Sorry, I'm half kidding. Have you written the first book yet? There is no book 2 until there's a book 1 that can stand on its own with no delayed payoff from theoretical sequels. The battlefield of aspiring authorship is littered with the charred remnants of X-book-series outlines/game plans. There's nothing inherently wrong with them, and I'm not questioning your skills or capabilities or anything like that, but until you've got that first book in the can you've got nothing. Books are really long and very hard to write, and making one of them interesting is hard enough without trying to conserve your narrative ammunition for the books 2 thru X.

    Is that Roland and The Dark Tower in your avatar? If so (or not) that's a pretty good analog for what you're describing. The first plot point is in the first line of the book ("The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed). The overall plot arc (Roland needs to find the Dark Tower) isn't immediate but it is hinted at fairly early on. Inciting incident? Not quite sure about that. Maybe the battle in Tull or when he first finds Jake? It's a little iffy because Roland arrives already incited into full blown mission mode, and from there the book follows a simple A to B to C plot with little digression save for a handful of flashbacks.

    The Gunslinger is a good example of a book that could stand on its own. And King wrote that with little idea of where he was going to go with it, as evidenced by his own words, the obnoxiously long layoff between books 3 and 4, and his rather ham-handed solution of writing his dumb ass into the later volumes as a plot catalyst.
     
    Shadowfax likes this.
  17. msymms

    msymms New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, it is Roland. Probably my favorite character and YES, excellent first line. But this helps a lot and takes the delay out of getting started on the first book. So, if I understand, just write the first book. Get it done. Maybe put a few hints in about a larger picture. And see if it stands.

    -mark
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,380
    Likes Received:
    8,185
    It sounds like you're thinking of one main story arching over all the books? But it's generally important to have a smaller story that's more important to each book and that gets resolved at the end of that book, but still contributes to the over-arching story of the series as a whole. So then your story structure (I don't really buy into the %-based ideas, but whatever it is that you think will work for you) would be for that smaller story in the individual book, not for the series as a whole.
     
  19. msymms

    msymms New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's exactly what I am thinking. And yes each book would stand on its own (have its own plot and resolve at the end), yet progress the overall series plot. I have been planning this for several years. Which goes back to my question of revealing the overall plot for all the books. I want to reveal the plot of the over arching story with its twists and trials effectively to keep the reader reading the whole series. I am just not sure how all of that is accomplished effectively. I look at LOTR. The decision of the party to take the ring back to Mordor (which is the quest for the series) wasn't made until the party was assembled in Rivendell, assuming I remember my Tolkien right. So the hook for the series arc was set well into the first book. Am I asking my question correctly?

    -mark
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,380
    Likes Received:
    8,185
    It's been a long time since I read LOTR, but as a I recall it didn't really have a distinct plot for each book. Like, there was no satisfying resolution at the end of each book... was there?
     
  21. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Custom Title. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,208
    Likes Received:
    1,968
    The three books all climax with an enemy that gets defeated.

    Book 1 - the Balrog (fire monster thing, gets defeated off screen)
    Book 2 - Sauraman (The other white wizard)
    Book 3 - Sauron (the ultimate Big Bad)
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    8,380
    Likes Received:
    8,185
    Oh, okay. Too long since I read them.
     
  23. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,793
    Likes Received:
    3,455
    Location:
    The People's Republic of New Hampshire
    Well, not suicidally so, but, yeah, more or less. Write whichever book you want to write. It's important to get one finished if you haven't done it before. Not only to prove to yourself that you can do it, but to see what you do well and what you need to work on. What works in your story and what doesn't work. You may have a character or a plot line that you think has the legs to make it through a series of books only to find out that all your beta-readers think the opposite.

    It was written as a single, continuous novel and then broken up for publication after the fact. Hence the numbering of the books as 1 thru 6 with two of each contained in each novel.
     
    Mumble Bee likes this.
  24. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,412
    Likes Received:
    1,965
    I read Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels out of order...when I came to The Colour of Magic, later on, it was quite marked how much he had improved with his later novels.
     
  25. Charles Gull

    Charles Gull Active Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2017
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Kronberg
    It is really simple. Just use a very sharp knife!
     

Share This Page