If you want to know how to build a story community that’s also a team, the gold standard is Leverage.
As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve figured out why the last season of Leverage is my least favorite even though it has wonderful episodes: Each story moved the team closer to splitting up. As a writer, I applaud this. After four years, the team members are not just masters at what they do but tightly bonded in a family that nothing can destroy. Which means there’s no place else to go unless they find a way to destroy that invincible family.
Thankfully, they didn’t do that, but they did change the community, moving toward Nate and Sophie’s marriage and retirement from the con and the new Leverage International headed by, of all people, Parker, ably supported by Eliot and Hardison. It was absolutely the right thing to do narratively and creatively, but it took away the thing I loved best about Leverage: that family of five working together. I’m not complaining, I don’t see any other way they could have gone in a fifth season, and I would have said, “Hell, yes,” to a sixth season, but still . . . Continue reading
Here’s the problem with writing a series, any kind of series: every time you end a book or a season, you create a turning point, a culmination of that story. If you keep creating turning points, eventually the reader subconsciously starts to think, “Are we there yet?” And if you create an turning point that answers all questions and leaves all the characters in a place of strength and stability, you’re done. Anything you write after that will be epilogue, the stuff that happens after the story is over. Some series manage to avoid that trap by stopping after that satisfying ending (Life on Mars was brilliant at this); some keep going and slowly run out of steam (The Mentalist ended when Jane killed the Bradley Whitford Red John; everything after that felt like milking a premise to earn money). Leverage managed to makes its epilogue season–Season Five–entertaining still, but much of that was because they evolved the team into something else. Season Four was the last act of the Leverage team in the sense that this is the season that brought them to stability, security, and happiness as a team. Continue reading
By the end of Season Four, the Leverage team has become a well-oiled machine, trusting each other without reserve and completely invested in the group as a permanent unit. This makes the team fun to watch, but difficult to write good stories about. They’re strong, they’re united, they’re secure when they’re with each other . . . they have no conflict. More than that, they can pretty much take out anybody who comes up against them. This is a group that has stolen a country. They have arch-criminals for breakfast. They’re legendary. So where is the story tension going to come from? Continue reading
Leverage had five seasons, or as I think of them, four acts and an epilogue. That means that for me, the season finales were all turning points, events that picked up the series over-all story (and the community) and turned them in a new direction. Continue reading
So let’s talk about point of view and characterization. Continue reading
I was going to write on POV and community for this episode, and I will, later this week, but watching it again (for probably the twentieth time, it’s one of my favorite episode), I was struck by how well they pulled off two difficult structures: the frame structure and the patterned structure. So let’s start with definitions. Continue reading
So remember Leverage Sundays? Yes, I finally found the third season disks, got the DVD player hooked up again, and finished the laundry. You don’t want to know about the laundry. Okay, 14 dryers full at the laundromat. The big dryers. Note to self: do laundry more than twice a year. Where were we? Right. Leverage Sundays. Pretend it’s Sunday. I have to put up a different post this Sunday anyway because it’s an international holiday (two international holidays) so you’re getting Leverage-Today-Is-Sunday-Because-I-Said-So. So . . . Continue reading
So let’s talk about competent protagonists. Continue reading
“The Bottle Job” is one of the last episodes in Season Two, the season of Nate Ford’s descent into darkness, and it’s the clearest indication that Nate is close to hitting bottom because it’s the clearest illustration that Nate’s internal conflict is hurting the way he directs the team’s external conflicts and, by extension, hurting the team.