Storyform: Trilogies (and all multi-entry book & movie series)

Questions about book series.

The first book can be a story, as can each individual book, as can the series itself. I know the typical pattern for a trilogy is “change-steadfast-change”… that seems to add up to a STEADFAST character. (doer changes to be-er … be-er stays be-er … be-er changes to a doer). But I assume this is actually usually an overall change.

For people who have approached trilogies (et al.), how have you thought about this?

Editing to add: This is the actual question: I have a first season of a TV series planned out with a storyform. I’m trying to figure out if the right approach for the following three seasons is to have additional storyforms, so each season is a GAS that stands alone, OR if I should consider an overarching GAS for the four seasons. (I would be happy with either.)

It feels weird to retroactively put a mapped-out first season into a GAS. Because if the MC is in Mind in season 1, do they have to be in Mind the whole time? Do they have to be a Be-er?

My only real experience with something like this is another show I’ve written. The MC is in Mind for the Pilot (which is a GAS), but she is in Universe for the entire show. The initial driver for each is different, but both occur in the pilot.

I’ve thought about Super Hero movies starting with change (origin stories), then shifting to steadfast, finally going back to change when the series ends.

I assume this works with television series as well. Change bookends the series. Steadfast carries the middle.

I’d say the reason is because the engine of conflict needs to have enough steam to carry the show for 100 episodes (whatever the magic number is, I forget).

It would be the same for carrying a 10 book series.

The opposite just doesn’t seem very interesting (SCS), but maybe it could reflect a fall from grace and redemption story?

And all change would be strange (CCC) unless the stories had states of affairs that were seriously different (an 8 year old character version, a 13 year old character version, and an 18 year old character version).

All steadfast would work (SSS), but it would miss an interesting opportunity story-wise.



I wonder how Judgement plays into this. For example, if you had a Change/Success/Bad story in Book 1, would that let you address the MC’s unresolved issues in Book 2 or 3?

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You know, I totally blinkered my question here. I’m going to go back and edit the first post.

Currently, using a Judgment>Bad is exactly the plan to keep things there for later stories.

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Many book series go onto one of the other characters in the first book’s OS, making it the MC for the next book, etc. Those books seem to have a judgement good. I guess that system is for blue-sky readers.

Why not do both? I think what you’re asking is close to what @jhull helped with on the series Tangled. Have an overarching GAS for the series. Then, make each season’s GAS OS Concern match the Signpost order of the overarching series GAS.

Also, if the MC doesn’t come to rest at the end of SSN1, could you have the freedom to jump to Universe for another problem? Or remain in Mind with the MC being Steadfast this time around? I don’t think you’re too limited.

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My impression of the first seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

  • Season 1: MC Buffy is a Steadfast Do-er in Universe (she holds to the idea that she can be a teenage girl and a slayer, both; Giles is IC). Success/Bad – they defeat the Master but she is left emotionally broken by the experience of dying at his hands, even though it was temporary.
  • Season 2: Changed Be-er in Mind (in this season she’s overwhelmed by internal issues of fear, anger and love; Angel is IC). She Changes when she decides to kill/banish Angel.
  • Season 3: Don’t remember it as well, but I think Buffy was a Be-er again, with Faith as IC. Not sure on Resolve. The season has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes so it was probably complete.
  • Season 4: this season had a lot of problems and probably wasn’t a complete story, though there were some great individual episodes

That was as far as I got when I re-watched it with my daughter!

Sorry, I thought it was implied that I’d be doing both since the first season already has a storyform.

I am not convinced that matching Signpost order for the big GAS is the only way to go. (Mostly because you can’t match all signposts from all domains and throughlines this way… something breaks, so why can’t it be the OS?) I also think I would have been more open to this idea if I’d approached it from the biggest storyform first, and not building up from an individual season. So, I’m being stubborn for some reason.

Yup, one of my questions too. In any given story, there is no problem with a Be-er putting on a Do-er hat for a chunk, so why not have a character jump from Mind to Universe? I gotta admit that I just don’t know what would happen here. (Though it helps explain why you would only need to line up the OS Signposts from the big GAS to the individual Season Goals.)

This is like looking at a newspaper report on COVID: not enough data!

Basically, that all seems great, and now I want to know if there is a storyform for the series as a whole.

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Two different storyforms, two different inequities. I say be as different with the forms as you want. The only reason I can think of to follow along by matching OS Sign Posts-or whatever throughline-would be to have a complete argument for the best or worst way to go about approaching that signpost. But that seems like it could lead to overkill very easy.

But if you do it, the reason I’d think you might want to stick with OS is because that’s the objective type of problem you’re dealing with. So you’re saying “when you have this problem” as opposed to something like “when you think that you have this type of problem” when matching, say, MC sign posts. But I’d think you could still do that. The only thing would be that whatever SP you start out matching, I’d think you’d need to match those throughout just to keep the perspective in check.

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