Season 1 (part 2) – New World

Season 1

Dramatic Structure:

There are 3 areas of concern:

Time to look at the:

Positive

What does this mean?

It means season 1 (in addition to seasons 3, 5, and 7) has a pervasive positive theme. And this positive theme is specifically expressed in season 1 as:

“New World”

In season 1, you’ll be weaving in elements of entering a “new world.” And you want to take care to come at this concept from a positive perspective. If your story is pretty dark and dour, that positivity will be subtle, but you still want to come at it from a generally positive tone.

There are two common ways, in which long form stories tend to express this “new world” idea in the context of positivity:

  • New Circumstances and/or a New Location
  • Fresh Start

New Circumstances and/or New Location

This means you literally have your characters entering a new city, a new industry, a new stage of their life, etc. Typically, you want to do this right at the beginning of season 1. It’s a great way to start your story – a major change to kick off your tale.

In the show LOST our main characters crash land on a mysterious island – a very different setting from their lives back home. The island is a literal “new world.”

We see something similar on The O.C. Ryan moves to Orange County, a place very different from his rough and tumble roots back in Chino.

Fresh Start

You create a “fresh start” by having your main character(s) leave their baggage behind and start over.

Notice this is distinctly different from the “new circumstances/location.” With a new circumstance or location, you’re just seeking to enter a new place, or a new setup.

With a fresh start, you’re entering a new place/setup/phase specifically unencumbered by your past. Or at least taking steps to leave it behind. It’s about releasing what’s come before and establishing the beginning of something else, something new.

In Buffy The Vampire Slayer, our main character starts season 1 having just moved from Los Angeles, to Sunnydale. She got expelled from her old school and starting at Sunnydale High is her fresh start to get her life back on track. She’s looking to start over, start fresh. Leave her life in L.A. behind.

In The Sopranos, our main character Tony Soprano starts therapy. It’s a fresh start to address his psychological issues and find a way to balance his life. He’s actively trying to take control of his life and move in a positive direction.

The new circumstances/location and the fresh start usually go hand in hand because they complement each other so easily. But they don’t have to. If need be, the two ideas could be executed separately.

Like a main character who’s a professor at a university. He moves departments (new location/circumstance) but his fresh start is all about his love life.

The new circumstances/new location is about changing the environment your character finds themselves in. The fresh start is about a character leaving their past behind.

These two elements come together to create a positive start to your story.



The Seven Seasons

Now that we’ve covered the method for structuring short form stories, aka “cubbies,” – let’s get down to the big daddy of storytelling:

The Seven Seasons

This is the method for structuring long form stories.

You ready!?

The “seven seasons” refer to the seven distinct chunks that comprise a multi-part story. We’re talking about a T.V. series, a book series, a series of films, you name it.

You’ve got seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

We’re using the term “season” here in a similar way to the use of the term “act” in a film’s structure.

An “act” is a specific chunk of story with certain narrative elements. The same holds true for these “seasons.” They are chunks of story defined by their specific concerns. Their particular needs and traits, unique from the concerns of other seasons.

What these specific needs are, will be our main focus when we take a look at each season individually. But when they all come together, the seasons create a large sprawling narrative, greater than the sum of its parts.

Let’s take a look at this seven season beast:

When you really look at it, from a top-down view, your entire long form story can be broken up into three overall…

Eras

The first, second, and third eras of your series.

  • Seasons 1, 2, 3 = 1st Era.

  • Seasons 4, 5 = 2nd Era.

  • Seasons 6, 7 = 3rd & final Era.

We’ll get into more detail later about the specific qualities of these “eras.” But for now, just know that they’re there. They’re an important part of the larger structure of your series.

Movin’ on!

Each season, in the grand structure of your series, has three levels to consider.

Three layers:

  • Dramatic Structure

  • Dramatic Pace

  • Dramatic Evolution

“Dramatic Structure” itself, has three different areas of concern:

Dramatic Structure

  • Connection/Separation

  • Positive/Negative

  • Origin/Deviation

These three areas of concern alternate between the seasons, as your story progresses.

Seasons 1, 3, 5, and 7 are of the first type:

  • “Connection,” “Positive,” and “Origin” focused.

Seasons 2, 4, and 6 are all of the second type:

  • “Separation,” “Negative,” and “Deviation” focused.

This alternation creates the pulse of the drama in your long form story.

You can’t mess with this pulse. It’s the heartbeat, the rhythm of your series. You lose that, it’s hard to recover from. It pulses this way for each of the three “dramatic structure” areas of concern:

Connection/Separation:

  • Season 1: Connection.
  • Season 2: Separation.
  • Season 3: Connection.
  • Season 4: Separation.
  • Season 5: Connection.
  • Season 6: Separation.
  • Season 7: Connection.

Positive/Negative:

  • Season 1: Positive.
  • Season 2: Negative.
  • Season 3: Positive.
  • Season 4: Negative.
  • Season 5: Positive.
  • Season 6: Negative.
  • Season 7: Positive.

Origin/Deviation:

  • Season 1: Origin.
  • Season 2: Deviation.
  • Season 3: Origin.
  • Season 4: Deviation.
  • Season 5: Origin.
  • Season 6: Deviation.
  • Season 7: Origin.

We’ll get all up in the specifics of this pulsing when we discuss each season in turn. Each season has its own unique expression of these three areas and their ideas.

Dramatic Pace

This deals with the pacing of your story, how the seasons flow from one to the next, and how they relate.

Our discussion of “eras” will become important when talking about the “dramatic pace.” Again, we’ll get more into the details when we approach each season in turn.

Dramatic Evolution

This is all about how your story evolves over time.

The things you need to do to change and grow your story organically as time progresses. Again, we’ll dig into the deets, as we discuss each season individually.