As stated previously, every season has its:
- Dramatic Structure
- Dramatic Pace
- Dramatic Evolution
Now’s the time to turn our attention to its…
Before we get into the specific traits of season 1’s dramatic evolution, let’s talk a little about dramatic evolution as a general concept:
“Dramatic Evolution” really has two different meanings:
- It’s the way in which you successfully execute the different concerns of your “Dramatic Structure” and “Dramatic Pace.”
- It’s all about your story’s CORE CONCEPT and the specific way it evolves, season to season.
Let’s look at the first meaning:
“The way in which you successfully execute the different concerns of your ‘Dramatic Structure’ and ‘Dramatic Pace.'”
What this means, is that how you handle your dramatic structure and dramatic pace elements, creates a narrative evolution from season to season. It has to. As the story progresses, it will necessarily evolve.
For season 1 specifically, this type of evolution necessitates that you establish all the basics of your story:
- Your main characters.
- The central dynamics between your characters.
- The thematic ideas of your story.
- The basic plot.
And anything else that needs to be established.
Season 1 is the original chunk of your story. The one that everything else will either subvert or reinforce, moving forward. So you need to make those original things clear here in season 1, in order to develop them as you move forward.
Meaning number two for “Dramatic Evolution:”
“It’s all about your CORE CONCEPT and the specific way it evolves, season to season.”
It’s what your long form story is all about. The meaning of your story. The reason it is being told. The point. At its heart, it is an idea which every other element in your story is meant to help dramatize.
For demonstration purposes let’s put together a hypothetical show about Spider-Man.
Your show’s “core concept” could be all about: “Power.”
Fundamentally the point of the show is this idea of “power” and what it means.
This power concept is not the plot of the show, it’s not the character’s arc, it’s not the core conflict, it is a separate, underlining idea: the “core concept.”
The core concept can be tightly related to any one of these other aspects, but it still needs to be a separate idea unto itself. They can be closely related, but not the same.
Once you have your core concept, there’s the evolutionary process your core concept goes through as your story progresses. This “evolution” process is why there are 7 seasons in your long form story and why they are split up into 3 eras.
Essentially, the structure of your story, pulses.
Each season does what it does, in response to what’s come before it. This is true both of the general dramatic concerns, as well as with the core concept.
The pulsing nature of your story’s dramatic evolution looks like this:
Season 1, establishes a THESIS.
Season 2, is then an ANTITHESIS of season 1.
Season 3, is then a SYNTHESIS of seasons 1 and 2.
Each era follows this “thesis,” “antithesis,” “synthesis” pattern.
When moving from one era into the next (ex: season 3 moving into season 4) the synthesis of the previous era acts as the thesis for the new era.
- Season 1: Thesis
- Season 2: Antithesis
- Season 3: Synthesis
Season 3 is also, simultaneously, the thesis for the new era.
- That makes season 4 an antithesis of season 3.
And season 5 is a synthesis of seasons 3 and 4.
- Season 5 is also, simultaneously, the new thesis.
- Season 6 is an antithesis
- Season 7 is the final synthesis.
To string it all together:
- Season 1: Thesis
- Season 2: Antithesis
- Season 3: Synthesis/Thesis
- Season 4: Antithesis
- Season 5: Synthesis/Thesis
- Season 6: Antithesis
- Season 7: Synthesis
This is the dramatic evolution of any story, being fueled by different expressions of a core concept.
So what does this mean for season 1 specifically?
There are two elements to season 1’s “Dramatic Evolution:”
- Beginning of Your 1st Era
Here you’re establishing your story’s thesis. Its establishing statement.
For our Spider-Man show, let’s say season 1 is all about:
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
That’s your establishing theme, your “thesis” statement – as far as your core concept “power” is concerned.
Simple enough, eh?
You just take a look at your core concept, and decide what your establishing thesis is going to be, with regards to that concept. Here we went with the classic Spider-Man line. It’s all about responsibility.
Beginning of Your 1st Era
Season 1 is the beginning of your first era. The first piece in the season 1, 2, 3 block.
You need to pay specific attention to the developments you’re looking to deal with in your first era.
Your first era will have a continuity in circumstance, theme, character, etc. Season 1 is where you begin these things. Season 1 is where you establish these things.
Let’s take a look at the show Prison Break.
In the beginning of season 1, we learn that Lincoln Burrows has been convicted of a crime he did not commit. That lays the foundation for the entire series. It establishes their core concept:
Lincoln being falsely imprisoned is the initial injustice, and catalyst for all the events that follow.
Season 1 also establishes the general theme for the first era:
Season 1 is all about Michael Scofield planning and executing his escape from prison with his brother. It takes all season. But this prison theme is not restricted to just season 1. It’s the theme for the entire first era.
So in addressing this “Beginning of Your 1st Era” element, season 1 first establishes the overall core concept for the show – injustice. But then it also establishes the theme for the first era, specifically – “prison.” Setting it up for seasons 2 and 3 to partake in their version of this “prison” idea/theme moving forward.