My biggest problem in writing Nita at this point is not having a clear antagonist. I already knew that my plot was a mess because of that–your antagonist shapes your plot–but until I started considering her team, I didn’t realize that the team’s make-up was also shaped by the Big Bad. Once I thought about it, it was obvious: the make-up and character of the team is defined by the project it undertakes, and the project it undertakes is shaped by antagonist.
Which means I need to learn a lot more about team antagonists. And then find Nita’s. Continue reading
The last three episodes of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow are: Episode 14: “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?,” Episode 15: “Now THAT’S a Climax,” Episode 16: “Oh, Yeah, We Still Have To Kill Vandal Savage.”
I think the reason this series made me so nuts when I finally watched the first season this year is that it had huge potential. When it was on its game, as it is in “Destiny,” it’s just terrific. Unfortunately, it was rarely on its game because it had too many team members, too many of those team members were annoying, the writers kept trying to make two blocks of wood the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, the crap crowded out the good stuff (Sara, Mick, Snart), Vandal Savage was a cartoon, and Rip Hunter was the Worst Team Leader Ever. Also, no plot and that damn reveal in Episode 14 that made me insane with rage. How do you fix a series story like this? Kill it with fire.
Well, no, we want to keep Sara, Mick, and Snart. And the time travel premise. And . . . Yeah, it’s worth saving for a second season.
But first we have to clean up this one. Continue reading
One of the aspects of storytelling that makes teams popular is the fun you can have with them once the characters are established and the team is really working as a team. If you’ve written the characters as strong, contrasting individuals, putting them together in different pairings in different situations can create some great expectations (see Ray and Mick in a Russian prison, for example) and surprising reversals. And once the team has finally bonded, sending them out against a powerful adversary is more than fun, it’s like watching a Rube Goldberg machine in action, the individual moves of the team as exciting as the final outcome of them working together. Continue reading
If you think of a TV season as a novel, the episodes as chapters, you can take apart a season and see where the plot stumbled and where it hit its marks. After “Marooned,” Legends had completed six episodes of a sixteen-episode season and it was way past time for a turning point.
And now we pause for a diagram about story acts and turning points: Continue reading
This double episode is a good team story that’s mostly a lot of fun, but before we get into why, let’s talk about plot and subplot in team stories.
Team stories are naturals for subplots because the supporting characters of the team (assuming the team leader is the protagonist) are naturals for protagonists of smaller plots that support the main conflict. The key is “support the main plot.” The main plot of Legends is about saving family, changing the past and future, risking everything for an outcome that’s worth dying for. So any subplot should echo that to reinforce it, reverse it to act as a foil or contrast, or play off of it in some other way that enhances and deepens it. Let’s look at those potential subplots, taking one team member at a time. Continue reading
I don’t know when I decided I wanted to write a team story, but it was probably somewhere during my first watch of Leverage. And then the Nita story came along and it was clearly a team story in tandem with a romance, and I realized that I didn’t know how to write teams, and then I started watching Legends of Tomorrow . . .
The thing about Legends is that its flaws are so egregious that I can easily see what not to do, but once I peel those things away, its successes are so beautifully done that I can see how they work in contrast. So while I’ll be bashing the show a lot in these posts, I’m pretty sure I’ll always love the things it does brilliantly. It turns out, it’s well worth watching if you know what to look for.
So let’s start with the pilot. It’s mostly awful. Continue reading