Seven Season Wrap Up!

Seven Season Wrap Up!

The seven seasons are all done. For convenience sake, we’ve put the entire structure in one place for easy reference.

Let’s get started!

Season 1

Dramatic Structure:

“Connection” expressed as ‘Identity’

  • Old vs. New Identities
  • Character Roles

“Positive” expressed as ‘New World’

  • New Circumstances/Location
  • Fresh Start

“Origins” expressed as ‘Old World’

  • Old Circumstances/Location
  • World Change

Dramatic Pace:

‘Establish Core Conflict’ and ‘Full Circle’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Thesis’ and ‘Beginning of First Era’

Season 2

Dramatic Structure:

“Separation” expressed as ‘Stress Tests’

  • Romances
  • Friendships

“Negative” expressed as ‘Meaningful Death’

  • Family or Friend
  • Foe

“Deviation” expressed as ‘Contradiction’

  • Role Reversals
  • Authority Figures

Dramatic Pace:

‘New Blood’ for your roster of characters and ‘Dragonslay’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Antithesis’ and ‘First Era Continued’

Season 3

Dramatic Structure:

“Connection” expressed as ‘Power’

  • Loss/Gain
  • Sexual Violence

“Positive” expressed as ‘Creation’

  • Newborns
  • Resurrections

“Origins” expressed as ‘Repercussions’

  • Debts
  • Revenge

Dramatic Pace:

‘Fallout’ and ‘Point of No Return: Circumstantially’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Synthesis/Thesis’ and ‘End of First Era’

Season 4

Dramatic Structure:

“Separation” expressed as ‘Disbandments’

  • Partnerships
  • Marriages

“Negative” expressed as ‘Weirdness’

  • Invasive
  • Otherworldly

“Deviation” expressed as ‘Shake Up’

  • Change of Circumstances
  • Up the Ante

Dramatic Pace:

‘Even trade’ for your roster of characters and ‘Promotion’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Antithesis’ and ‘Beginning of Second Era’

Season 5

Dramatic Structure:

“Connection” expressed as ‘Family’

  • Loss/Gain
  • Sacrifice

“Positive” expressed as ‘Salvation’

  • Protection
  • Redemption

“Origins” expressed as ‘Formation’

  • Relationships
  • Organizations

Dramatic Pace:

‘Impossible Decision’ and ‘Point of No Return: Emotionally’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Synthesis/Thesis’ and ‘End of Second Era’

Season 6

Dramatic Structure:

“Separation” expressed as ‘Role Challenge’

  • Circumstantial
  • Emotional

“Negative” expressed as ‘Bummer’

  • Death
  • Trauma

“Deviation” expressed as ‘Destruction’

  • Mistakes
  • Decisions

Dramatic Pace:

‘Deficit’ for your roster of characters and ‘Test/Trial’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Antithesis’ and ‘Beginning of Third Era’

Season 7

Dramatic Structure:

“Connection” expressed as ‘Legacy’

  • Descending
  • Ancestral

“Positive” expressed as ‘Individuality’

  • Loss/Gain
  • Mentorship

“Origins” expressed as ‘The Beginning’

  • Story
  • Show

Dramatic Pace:

‘Resolution of Core Conflict’ and ‘Point of No Return: Geographically’

Dramatic Evolution:

‘Synthesis’ and ‘End of Third Era/Series’

That’s it, Animals!



Season 7 (part 4) – Resolution of the Core Conflict & Point of No Return: Geographically

Dramatic Pace

Two traits:

  • Resolution of the Core Conflict
  • Point of No Return; Geographically

Resolution of the Core Conflict

Way back in season 1, as part of the dramatic pace, we established a “core conflict” for our story. A sentence, typically formulated as a “can” or “will” statement. This statement embodied the central conflict that ran through the entire story.

Now, here in season 7, it’s time to resolve that “core conflict.”

How did The Shield do it?

Back in season 1, the “core conflict” was established as: “Will Vic Mackey get away with all the things he’s done. Will they get him?”

At the end of season 7, we get the definitive answer to that question. The answer is yes, he does get away with it all.

He managed to manipulate his way into an all-encompassing immunity deal. He’s free from prosecution for any of the crimes he’s committed, as long as he admits to them on tape and then well-behavedly rides a desk for the next 3 years at ICE, writing up reports on gang activity. It’s not ideal, but far better than jail.

Notice the subtlety though. Vic has avoided jail, but:

  • Lem was murdered.
  • Shane killed himself.
  • Ronnie is going to jail.
  • Mackey’s family went into witness protection to get away from him.
  • He loves working the streets, but now he’s chained to a desk.
  • He lost his badge, his reputation, and his power.

So did he really get away with everything he’s done? Yes and no. For a series about moral grey areas this is a solid resolution to the core conflict and the story as a whole.

Point of No Return – Geographically

Close out the era, and the story, with a massive physical change.

If season 7 is the end of your series (which ideally it would be) then you want to end it with a geographic change – to really seal the deal and bring everything to a crystal clear close.

Back in season 1, we started with a “new world.”

Season 1 was all about starting the story of this new world. Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and now 7 all told the tales of this place. And now that it’s coming to an end – it’s a good time to leave this place behind. Physically. Geographically.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it. They literally turned Sunnydale into a crater in the Earth. They can’t stay in Sunnydale anymore, there’s no town to stay in.

This big change is easier to do when season 7 is the definite end of your series. All things are possible at the true ending of your story. But even if you plan to continue on to a season 8 – utilize the geographic change anyway. The location shift will only help your story move forward in bold and exciting ways.

That’s what Smallville did. After season 7, Clark moved from small-town Smallville to the big city of Metropolis. Their show’s even named after the original location, but they still moved after season 7.

Smallville has its faults, but it did some things perfectly.

So when crafting your season 7, be sure to respect your dramatic pace by resolving your core conflict and being sure to execute a point of no return, geographically.



Season 6 (part 4) – Character Roster Deficit & Test/Trial

Season 6

Dramatic Pace

Two traits:

  • Deficit, for your roster of characters
  • Test or Trial

Deficit

You lose some characters, and you don’t replace ’em.

In season 2, we had an influx of “new blood.” You added characters to the roster. In season 4, we had an “even trade.” You lost some characters, but you replaced them with about an even number of new people. Here in season 6, you lose some characters, and you leave ’em gone. You don’t replace them, you let the audience feel their absence.

We see this in season 6 of Weeds.

The Botwin clan has to get out of town quick, so they hit the road – leaving behind a bunch of regular characters: Celia, her husband Dean, her daughter Isabelle, and Nancy’s new husband Esteban. They all get left behind, and the show doesn’t replace them. Moving forward, the character roster is full of nothing but: the Botwins and Doug.

Test or Trial

Here you really challenge your characters.

Physically, spiritually, emotionally, literally, whatever works best for your story.

We see this in season 6 of Smallville. At the very end of season 5, Clark is thrown into the “Phantom Zone.” A desolate prison for intergalactic criminals. He spends months surviving without his powers.

That’s a serious test.

When he eventually does get back to Earth – his release brings a bunch of space criminals along with him. These “Zoners” then go about terrorizing the planet and it’s all Clark’s fault. He then spends all of season 6 trying to return these escapees back to the Phantom Zone.

That’s a pretty big trial.

When you get down to it, the “test or trial” can be anything. Get creative. Find what works best for your story. Just make sure it’s hard. Make sure you really drag your characters through the mud.

When putting together your season 6, be sure to lose some characters and keep them gone. And be sure to put your characters through some real heat. Put ’em through a test, a trial.



Season 5 (part 4) – Impossible Decision & Point of No Return: Emotionally

Season 5

Dramatic Pace

Has two traits:

  • Impossible Decision
  • Point of No Return; Emotionally

Impossible Decision

Your characters face a decision that just seems straight up impossible.

Usually it looks like this: Your characters are faced with two equally terrible choices, and are forced to pick one.

That’s the most common expression of this “impossible decision” idea.

In some rare cases, you’ll present your characters with two terrible choices, and they’ll engineer a third choice out of thin air. This works, when the third choice is just as terrible as the two being decided upon. It’s not as great, when the third choice is some kind of cop-out where the problem’s solved and everyone lives happily ever after. That undermines the stakes. And creatively, it’s a terrible idea.

The decision you’re presenting to your characters is impossible, because no matter what they choose, they can’t live with that decision.

Usually, you’ll place the impossible decision at the very end of season 5. But you don’t have to.

Examples!

At the very end of season 5 of The Sopranos, we see one hell of an “impossible decision.”

Back in the day, Tony Soprano grew up with his cousin Tony Blundetto aka “Tony B.” They were close. In the eighties though, Tony B went to jail – for 17 years. Now, here in season 5, he’s finally out. He tries to go straight, but falls back into crime, and kills the wrong guys in a New York power struggle. Johnny Sack, from New York, demands that Tony Soprano hand over his cousin. Specifically to be tortured and killed for what he’s done.

Tony’s got an “impossible decision” to make. If he doesn’t hand him over, he’s at war with New York. If he does hand him over, he’s sending his beloved cousin to be tortured to death. It’s a pickle. But Tony’s a smart guy, he comes up with a third option. His solution is to track down Tony B himself, and give him a quick, non-tortured, death. He then tells Johnny Sack where to find the body.

Tony B dies, but at least it wasn’t horrifically painful. And though they’re unhappy, Tony’s avoided going to war with New York.

A solid resolution to an excellent “impossible decision.”

Let’s look at a different example:

Season 5 of LOST.

We’ve learned by season 5, that there was an “incident” on the island that the DHARMA Initiative dealt with by building the hatch and instating the numbers and button-pushing protocol.

Now stuck back in the 1970s, Daniel Faraday theorizes that if they detonate Charles Widmore’s H bomb, in the right place, they can stop “the incident” before it ever happens. They can nullify the electromagnetic pocket completely. Meaning the hatch, the button pushing – it doesn’t have to happen. Desmond doesn’t fail to push it one day, and Oceanic 815 never crashes. Our characters never end up on the island.

The impossible decision becomes: should they do it?

Do they purposely detonate a hydrogen bomb? Doing so could alter the timeline and prevent all the death and tragedy they’ve suffered since the crash. They could completely undo the history of all the events up until this point. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? It could do absolutely nothing to the timeline and just explode in their faces and kill them all.

It’s a tough call. After a lot of debate, and back and forth, Juliet sets off that bomb.

In this case, there were two choices, and one was chosen.

Point of No Return – Emotionally

Close out the era, in an emotionally impactful way.

In season 3, we had a “point of no return” that emphasized circumstance. This time, we want a “point of no return” that emphasizes emotion.

We see this in season 5 of Rescue Me. At the end of season 5, Tommy encourages everybody to fall off the wagon and get back into booze. This results in a fatal car crash for Teddy’s wife. Teddy blames Tommy for her death.

For Tommy, this is a big “point of no return; emotionally.” He’s indirectly caused his Aunt’s death. And his beloved Uncle just put a bullet in him for it.

Moving forward, things are never going to be the same, emotionally.

Grey’s Anatomy season 5:

At the end of season 5, George gets hit by a bus. The doctors desperately try to save him, but his injuries are too great and he dies.

This is a big “point of no return; emotionally.” One of their own, a fellow resident they’ve been working along side this entire time, a dear friend, has died. Things will never be the same for any of them.

So when tackling your season 5, be sure to deal with your dramatic pace by creating a compelling impossible decision, and a point of no return that focuses on emotional effects.