Fiction Writing Made Easy

#113: First Chapter Analysis: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

October 24, 2023 Savannah Gilbo Episode 113
Fiction Writing Made Easy
#113: First Chapter Analysis: The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

“I feel that emotional connection, the emotional struggles here are going to be a big gameplay in how the story is executed.” - Abigail K. Perry

Magic has always fascinated us, hasn't it? The mere thought of a world where the impossible becomes possible, where spells are cast, and extraordinary adventures unfold, has captivated readers for generations. In the realm of adult fantasy novels, one name stands out – Lev Grossman and his masterpiece, "The Magicians."

Today, both Abigail K. Perry, host of the LitMatch podcast, and I embark on a magical yet realistic journey as we unravel the intricacies of the first chapter. Here’s a preview of what’s included:

[06:17] Abigail gives a summary of The Magicians by Lev Grossman

[21:51] A macro analysis of the first chapter using 7 key questions from Paula Munier's book The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings

[58:40] A micro analysis of the scene within the chapter using the "5 Commandments of Storytelling" from The Story Grid

[01:20] Final thoughts on analyzing chapters and scenes

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Speaker 1:

So commercially this? I looked it up. It's technically marketed as an adult fantasy novel, which you know the first thing we want to look at when it comes to commercial genres. Do we get a sense of that in these? In this opening chapter I think we do. There's multiple things that, in my opinion, show the magical side of it. So obviously, quintin's doing a lot of thinking about fillering further, where kids literally go to a magical land. He's, you know, checking out cabinets in a real home to see if he can go to fillery. He's doing magic tricks in his pocket. So that's like a different element of magic.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast. My name is Savannah Gilboe and I'm here to help you write a story that works. I want to prove to you that writing a novel doesn't have to be overwhelming. So each week I'll bring you a brand new episode with simple, actionable and step-by-step strategies that you can implement in your writing right away. So whether you're brand new to writing or more of a seasoned author looking to improve your craft, this podcast is for you. So pick up a pen and let's get started.

Speaker 1:

In today's episode, we're diving deep into the first chapter of the Magicians by Lev Grossman, and I'm super excited to share this episode with you because this is one of my favorite book series and it was both challenging and fun to break down this first chapter. So, as usual with these first chapter episodes, I had a special guest. Her name is Abigail K Perry and she's a developmental editor, a book coach and the host of an amazing podcast called LitMatch, where she helps writers find the best literary agent for their writing and publishing careers. I'm going to link to her podcast in the show notes as well as where you can find Abigail around the internet if you want to get in touch with her Now. If you've been listening to this podcast for a while, then you already know the deal about these first chapter episodes.

Speaker 1:

But just in case you're brand new or in case you need a reminder, abigail and I like to pick apart the opening chapters of stories to see how the author hooks our attention and pulls us into the story, and we like to analyze these opening chapters on both the macro and the micro level. So basically, we're asking why does this chapter work? And then how does the scene or how do the multiple scenes within that first chapter work? So that's a very, very quick overview of what we're going to dig into today. You will hear more explanation for everything as we get into the episode. So, with that being said, let's go ahead and dive right into the conversation.

Speaker 2:

Hey, savannah, thanks so much for joining me for this amazing episode. We are going to take another deep dive analysis into the first chapter, and before we do that I'm sure people hear this I have a scratchy voice today. I'm sure I'm getting over some sort of preschool germs that have happened, so sorry if my voice cuts out at some point, but luckily I have the amazing Savannah here with me. So we are going to hash out the first chapter of Love Grossman's the Magicians, and I know that this is a super popular book. This is a book that I read many, many, many years ago. Now I'd have to look at one. This is even copyrighted, but it was more towards the beginning of its publishing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it was 2009.

Speaker 2:

2009. Okay, so I think I probably read it in like the 2011-2012 time, and I have not read it since then. So I read the first chapter again, obviously in preparation for this, but it is a doozy, as Savannah had mentioned to me when we were first getting on. So thanks, savannah, this is going to be fun to chat about and pull apart together.

Speaker 1:

Sure, and it's so funny because I'm coming to it a little bit from the opposite angle, where I love this series, I love this book, I love the show, kind of super obsessed with it, I think about it often, even though there are things like you know, no stories perfect, but there's a lot in these books that I love. And so I'm coming at it from kind of the nerd angle, which will be fun, because we're going to see not only was this a hard chapter to analyze, which we haven't really done much preparation and you'll hear that we wanted to kind of hash it out during the episode to show you that we also struggle with this stuff but also we're coming at it from two different perspectives, which I think is super fun. So, like Abigail said, she knows the story, but it's been a long time, so she's coming at it with more of fresh eyes, and then I'm coming at it from being in the weeds, so we'll see kind of where we, you know, find similar things, find different things, and it'll be fun.

Speaker 2:

And I really like when we pair up and we team, when we pair up and we do first chapters with those different perspectives because, as a writer when I'm thinking about you know all you writers out there who are listening to this you have those books that you absolutely love, that you've read multiple times before, and then you read the first chapter and you're going to just naturally pick up on details, setups, important even just one liners that have significance into the story later and that can influence how you might dissect the first chapter or the first scene. And then there's, of course, the first time readers or the second time readers. You've read it in a while, like me, and that is really cool because you have this opportunity to dive into the story and ask yourself what really were you drawn to, what is really standing out as a strong first chapter for you, and then, through discussion, we can talk about but why is this a great execution and introduction to what this story is really about. So it's fun to have the different perspectives.

Speaker 1:

And the other thing I'll say on that too, it's we were doing a scene analysis in my StoryLab membership the other day. So shout out to everybody in my StoryLab membership and we were just talking about how interesting it is. If you haven't read the whole story and you're looking at, let's say, the first chapter, you're, usually you'll get caught in kind of the surface level of what's happening. But if you've read it more than once, or let's say it's your story that you're trying to craft and analyze, then you can get to that deeper level of understanding. But there is a risk because at some point it's like you've been with the material for so long that it becomes really hard to see the different pieces. So I just think the whole thing's fascinating, but it's. I also love coming at it from these two perspectives for the same reason you said Definitely.

Speaker 2:

Definitely so, savannah, before we go into the analysis and I know that you've written in a summary, so we're going to talk about the summary before we go into the first chapter. For those out there who don't know what the Magicians is or that this is the first book in a series, but who don't know this first book or don't know what the series is because you give a brief description about what the story is about, yeah, so in its most simple form, it's about a guy named Quentin Coldwater.

Speaker 1:

He's I believe he's 17, but he's basically they're getting ready to go to college and they stumble into this other world. It's a portal fantasy and they end up going to a school to become Magicians. So instead of going on like the Yale track or whatever Princeton, they end up going to school to become Magicians and then, as they're there, they get into kind of magical adventures and then things and they end up in a land called Fillory which is from a popular book series in the book. So in the Magicians there's a book series called Fillory and Further and they end up visiting that land and having magical adventures there.

Speaker 1:

But what is operating beneath all or underneath all that fun stuff is that Quentin is a he's an unhappy guy. He's arguably dealing with depression and anxiety and stuff like that. So the story's about is he going to find happiness in his own world? Is Fillory going to be the answer which he thinks it's going to be? Or like, how is he going to deal with these feelings of depression and unhappiness when he gets kind of a chance that all of us readers, we all might want right Like gosh? We wish we could escape to the magical world to escape our problems. Sometimes right, but we'll see through Quentin's story, if you read the book, that it's not always the case.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think that's us. You know, when I at least I know when I picked up this book you and I both love Harry Potter. Savannah Anyone who knows this knows that we are obsessed with Harry Potter, and I would say that when you're looking for okay, I want a book like Harry Potter, people tend to recommend the magicians and at least like that's. I know how it got recommended to me, and a lot of that, I think, is because of the school system, like we're entering another school system based in magic.

Speaker 2:

We'll probably get into this when we talk about what type of story this is, but it's interesting because we have an older audience. It's like we have an older you know, like you said, quentin Quentin's dealing with big internal struggles and not that. You know, harry Potter's not, but he's dealing with a different age group, I would say, of internal struggles and we get that pretty much in the first chapter. So that's pretty cool as well, and I know that you have some thoughts on genre. So why don't we go ahead and get into the summary and get into the questions so that we can explore those ideas?

Speaker 1:

Sure. So I'll just read a quick summary of the first chapter. And it's not a fast chapter, it's like five, six, seven thousand words. So it's a doozy of the first chapter but there are multiple scenes in it which we'll see in a second.

Speaker 1:

But basically, quentin Coldwater, he's walking through Brooklyn with his two friends, james and Julia, and internally he's reflecting on like why is he so unhappy? So he's thinking about all this stuff. As Quentin and James are, they're about to do their alumni interview with this alumni from Princeton and then Julia is going to head back to the library, kind of once she drops him off on the doorstep. So meanwhile Quentin's thinking about you know, why am I so happy or unhappy? And part of it is because James and Julia are together. So that's a fact that Quentin dislikes, because he's attracted to Julia and he knows she's never going to reciprocate. And also Quentin, objectively, he knows he should be happy. So he's like I come from a reasonably good middle class home, I have decent parents, I have good friends, you know, despite my very high GPA and he says, performing all the rituals and sacrifices necessary to be happy, he's not. And so we learn through his thoughts that he believes there must be more to life and his thoughts drift to his favorite fantasy book series, fillory and Further. And he, you know he's thinking about these books. We learn there are five in total. They follow the adventures of the five chatwin children as they go from our world to the land of Fillory. And then we realize that though Quentin's almost an adult, he's super engrossed by these books and he often escapes into the world of Fillory when he finds real life too difficult to cope with. So that's kind of all going on as they're on their way to this building, apartment building whatever, to interview with the guy from Princeton. So once they arrive, julia leaves for the library and Quentin and James knock on the door. Nobody answers. And then when they knock a second time the door kind of creaks open and Quentin wanders in because he's pulled forward by this secret hope that you know.

Speaker 1:

This is how it starts in the Fillory books. Something strange happens and then they find a cabinet or a clock and the kids go through and they're taken to Fillory. So he's kind of driven by this motivation that he can't quite admit. And then he wanders around the house James is still on the doorstep and he goes up to a cabinet. He tries to open the back, thinking he's going to go to Fillory, and then he's disappointed when he can't or when it doesn't open. And then he turns around and he spots a dead body on the floor of the den in the house. And then we learn that 15 minutes later paramedics arrive and one of the paramedics tells Quentin the man died of a cerebral hemorrhage, so there was kind of nothing they could do. And then she hands Quentin and James each an envelope with their name on it, but only Quentin agrees to take his. And then, so you know, fast forward a little bit, they leave the house, quentin and James separate, they're both grumpy.

Speaker 1:

James goes to the library to find Julia and Quentin decides he's going to look in his envelope and then to his surprise he finds a manuscript that's titled the Magician's Book Six of Fillory and Further.

Speaker 1:

So of course he's very interested and as he turns that front page to read it, there's a note inside. But before he can read it it gets picked up by the wind. So then he's, you know, following this piece of paper as it blows around the streets of Brooklyn and he follows it into a neglected garden and he's kind of walking through Bramble and getting hurt and all this stuff. And then he notices that things are quiet and the den of the city is gone. He feels super nauseous and he closes his eyes, even though he's, like you know, still going forward, and when he opens them he finds himself under a deep or a blue sky, staring at a great green lawn and a large stone house. So he's totally been transported somewhere different. There's a kid, a teenager, there when he pops out and Quentin says is this Fillory? And the boy says no, this is upstate New York. And that's where the chapter ends.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that ending too. Me too, okay, awesome.

Speaker 2:

So, as usual in our deep dive analysis episodes, we will go through the seven key first chapter questions first. So we're looking at a picture at all of these. How is this first chapter hooking readers, getting us to read more? Because it is satisfying. You know these seven key first chapter questions which come from Polymu Nays, the writer's guide to beginnings. So we love to do it that way. And then we're going to zero in and we'll look at the micro story. So we'll start to look at scene structure. Lots of interesting discussion to come with that, because this is a very challenging first chapter to analyze by scene level, but obviously it has masterful scenes, so we'll get into that.

Speaker 2:

Let's go ahead and move into the first seven I mean the seven first chapter questions. So the first of these is dealing with genre, and the question is what kind of story is this? Right? And so, of course, like we usually talk about two types of genres content genre and commercial genre. So, savannah, first, what is the commercial genre for this? How would we market this? And then let's move into content genre, meaning, what is the story really about? Like, well, that's the next question, actually, but what kind of story is this? On content wise, yeah, on content, wise, on that deep level.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So commercially this I looked it up it's technically marketed as an adult fantasy novel, which you know the first thing we want to look at when it comes to commercial genres. Do we get a sense of that in these? In this opening chapter I think we do. There's multiple things that, in my opinion, show the magical side of it.

Speaker 1:

So obviously, quentin's doing a lot of thinking about fillering and further, where kids literally go to a magical land, he's, you know, checking out cabinets in a real home to see if he can go to fillery. He's doing magic tricks in his pockets. That's like a different element of magic. The way the paramedic interacts with him. You can tell some things, some things up. We just don't quite know what she's very makes makes light of the situation, like, yeah, we're not supposed to let the people die, but you know, sometimes it happens. There's little things and then obviously he pops out in a totally different climate, under a different sky. So I think there's a lot that points to the fantasy element and also the adult age range, kind of like we talked about earlier, the heavy topics, the age of the protagonist and things like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think that being listed as adult fantasy, I think that's something interesting that I want to talk about quickly, because when I originally read this, there was a category called New Adult and I would have placed this one in that. And New Adult is kind of that in between age for the protagonist and for the reader, for the target reader, more like that college level, Since Quinton he's interviewing for Princeton, so we know that he's heading into more of the college education level versus the high school level. We're not really a young adult, but we're not quite in the adult area of maturity either, and since then I think that that category has. It's like if you're saying you're adult, people still understand what it is, but I don't think it's quite pitched or existing as much anymore. Do you agree?

Speaker 1:

Fatsfana, I do, and so I love New Adult. I'm a firm believer that there is a New Adult category and that the readers want it. I think for some reason, publishers just aren't there yet and I don't understand why. I mean, I just Googled to see. I wanted to get us a definition. So this says the protagonists are 18 to 29,. But loose on that right. So it's older than young adult, like Abigail said, but it's less than typical adult or it can be, and these could be things like Jennifer Armand Trowell, sarah J Maas, even they have Colleen Hoover listed on here. So I mean Casey McQuiston's red, white and royal blue, so there's a ton of things that are super popular in this category. But yeah, I agree with you, for some reason it's just kind of not technically with publishers becoming a thing.

Speaker 2:

Right, it's being listed as adult, but what we're really dealing with here in the Sage group is that we're dealing with protagonists who are in the real world now but haven't quite figured it out Not that a 30-year-old has figured it out either.

Speaker 2:

I'm in my 30s and I have not figured it out, but I'll just say that it's this kind of all right, we have left innocence and we're into this new area where we're breaking that innocence. It still exists a little bit, but it's being broken more so. And just like we still have these big coming-of-age moments and I'm a firm believer that you can have a coming-of-age experience at any time in your life, at any decade. But when we think traditionally of coming-of-age, I think that you think the younger years, like you're thinking more of those high school years, those middle grade years, and then, especially here I think sometimes you have the rudest awakenings when you actually enter the right, or then this college-esque time, these 20s. So yeah, I mean all that to say.

Speaker 2:

I'm rambling a little bit, but I think that this is why once someone would say to me oh well, you want another Harry Potter, go try this one. But it's for the older audience which is also really strategic in how this is placed, because if you look at publishing like you had, I grew up with Harry Potter, savannah grew up with Harry Potter as we were aging with Harry and then it was like wait, what's next here? Here comes the magicians. So I think that that's just something interesting to think about when I'm thinking, what kind of story this is Definitely fantasy. But the other thing that I think is really interesting because we were learning about fillery, and to me, when I'm reading about Quentin's obsession with fillery, immediately, just the way that there are the portals, I think because this is where I was and what I would have fantasized was. I'm thinking CS Lewis, I'm thinking Chronicles of Narnia.

Speaker 2:

So that felt really reminiscent of a Chronicles of Narnia to me and how he, quentin, will discuss about how being the nerd and being obsessed with it. He has a line in there somewhere about why Julia will never go for him and he's partly because of his obsession with fillery. That's not necessarily that reason, but I think it's the idea that he needs to go to this other world when he is feeling down. And that's also very relatable for a lot of readers, especially fantasy readers, and we'll talk about that when we kind of get to the character. But we know that there are fantasy.

Speaker 2:

I'm getting to this point because we know that there are fantasy elements. We know that there are going to be magical elements, exactly what you said. We can tell some things are off based on how the scene progresses, because of his fascination with magic, with these portals, with these other worlds. So we know that's going there. What I think is so interesting is that the actual first page doesn't really give hints of fantasy. It takes a couple pages to get into the fantasy. The actual first page really grounds us in, I would say, voice and character and how Love.

Speaker 2:

Grossman is leaning on his strength of just really writing style and how he can pull us in with the voice through the interiority of Quentin, and I think that that's really interesting because that makes it very emotional to me. So when we talk about content genre, I'm leaning into that worldview area and Savannah, you had mentioned that off podcast that you felt this is really a worldview story as well, and I feel that emotional connection very internally. The emotional struggles here are going to be a big gameplay in how this story is executed and that's really what the first chapter felt like the first page felt like it focused the most on, and then as you get into it, you can tell we're going to have these action stakes as well. When you get to the dead body, that's interesting because the way the line is delivered you're thinking wait a second, is there a crime in here? And then you explore and know it's the cerebral hemorrhage, but isn't it? So I think that's something to be thinking about.

Speaker 2:

So what you can see, there are going to be lots of stakes for genre, but there's a lot going on in this first chapter that captures us as a reader on multiple levels and we know it's fantasy. We're satisfied with this fantasy because, especially at the end of that chapter, when you move into the very fantastical portal experience, we know we're here. Fantasy readers are satisfied because of that. But I think that this first chapter's expectations promise something much deeper than just the fun of fantasy. And we can be here, we can buckle your seatbelts for the fun ride of just a fantasy story. And that just I can put in quotes, because nothing has ever.

Speaker 2:

Just a story, to kind of get into that idea of yes, we have checked off the box, that there's something magical here. Yet I think that the emotional story is extremely loud and you can't ignore that because of how grounded we are in what Quentin is struggling with internally his depression, his sadness and a lot of it to his concentration and what he focuses on. He's a coming on, a 20-year-old boy and he's thinking about girls. So we have a lot with that and it's the level going back to that category of new adult versus young adult. Not that this is the only difference that decipher is YA versus new adult or adult, but the sophistication of one person wanting to be with another person is deeper, like they even talk about sleeping with one another. So it's not that Obviously you can't have sex in young adult books, but we can see that there is a more deep rooted level of intimacy between what Quentin wants and what he feels like he can't have and how much that consumes him in this age group.

Speaker 2:

So I think that that's something to pay attention to as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I want to add two things to that. So the first is, the very first line is Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed. So it's funny that even though we're not getting like fantasy magic necessarily, we're showing that this is a kid. And then I mean he does magic, this exact kind of magic trick, to impress the people at breakdolls. It's just they have different expectations of what that trick is going to mean. But it is kind of funny, like it's just a unique way to get in magic without it being like the fantasy magic. The other thing I think it's so funny because for me as a reader, I really relate to Quentin in the sense that like, honestly, I still wish my Hogwarts letter would show up.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I'm in my mid 30s, I still wish it would come. I still wish I'm like Quentin, I would discover a cabinet that takes me to a different world, like I don't know what that says about me, but I relate so much to him as a fantasy reader. So when I see his longings I'm like I get you. I feel like this, I'm in the fantasy world kind of with you, you know. So that to me was like a signal that this is also going to be fantasy, because this is what he's focused on.

Speaker 2:

So was it John Truby who did the anatomy of genre. Is that right?

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

What did he say about fantasy books, people who love fantasy. Do you remember?

Speaker 1:

It was something like I'm totally going to butcher this. So like not only do we like the wonder and the things like that, but we have visions and passions about the world becoming a better place. So it's like I don't know what I want to say. I think that we're idealists, but like we really just want the world to become a better place and fantasy helps us explore and realize, like what could be possible.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, and I relate to those books. I am in with you right there, savannah, and that I want my Hogwarts letter. I want the verbal, the sense of escapism. Yeah, escapism, I'm not saying that we're escapism.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, escapism, I jumped out on that extra ism, yeah, but I think that it's. That's what it speaks to Like. When I'm reading something with Quentin I've found him we'll get into this with the character, but he is very relatable, at least for fantasy. A lot of fantasy readers I feel like they can connect with that feeling and you know, it's interesting to see the rudeness of depression or at least unhappiness in him and needing that, why he goes to Fillory when he goes to those places, because we are dreaming about something that could be better and maybe that world can give it to us and what we can bring back from that world into our world. So just interesting way to set that up for the fantasy.

Speaker 1:

Well, and one thing I want to talk about too, because I'm thinking of the listeners and what you said, because I agree, I do think this is primarily a worldview story. And I want to talk about why. Because we have analyzed Harry Potter as action. So if I'm a listener, I might say, okay, what's the difference? Because they both have worldview, they both have action, and so we need to ask, like, what is the difference? And how would we decide what our stories are more about? So in Harry Potter, there's this big identity thing, right, like am I the boy who lived? Do I belong here, whatever? There's also Voldemort. There's, you know, life and death, things that happen on the page, on the surface.

Speaker 1:

In the Magicians, we start out with this big question of, like, why am I so unhappy? He tells us in the text, quinton tells us that he goes to books to escape his depression. He wishes that Fillory could come in and save him from the way that his mind works. He thinks if he goes to another land and if he could find his Fillory, then he would be happy. So he's putting a lot of emphasis on the external to find his happiness. And then throughout the story, which we'll talk about more. But in a second the plot grows things at him that says, okay, here's what you wanted. Are you getting that happiness or not? And then usually it's like not, but sometimes he does, and then it keeps coming back to this question of is the other world offering you what you thought you were missing? Are you happy now, Quinton?

Speaker 1:

And so that's what is going to change throughout the story, where in Harry Potter, he has this internal worldview arc, right, like he has to accept his past and he has to find the courage to step into who he is and all that stuff he, you know, find his place, find his belonging. But it's different, right? So it's the weight of the genres feel different and you know, abigail and I like to think about, like some of these stories, as being equally weighted. So when I say they're, the weight is different, it could be the difference of like 45% one and 55% the other, and then flip it, you know. So it could still be very, very close.

Speaker 1:

But I think what is the emphasis in these opening pages? It's Quinton has this worldview that says if he goes somewhere else to a magical land, all of his problems will be solved. And throughout the story you see him put his emphasis on different things, like if I can you know, now that I'm in the physical kids cottage, I think I'm going to be happy. Now that I'm in fillery, I think I'm going to be happy. So it's always brought back down to that through line where in Harry Potter it's kind of always brought down to the through line of Voldemort is out there and something bad is happening and I don't know if I'm going to survive this.

Speaker 2:

What are your thoughts on that? No, I love it. I love how you executed that. I think that that you get. You get that in this first chapter. Even in just how a lot of the times, especially in the earlier books with Harry Potter, we have those products and disguises.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And even if Voldemort isn't on the page, we are always getting something about that main villain in some way. Harry's Chamber of Secrets is the one that I analyzed really deeply, so I remember it's a lot with Harry dealing with his worst birthday ever at the Dursleys, but there is a chunk that reminds us about Voldemort, and then after Voldemort we see mysterious eyes. So we're always pulling us back to that. Or in the Magicians it's not that case. Like in Sorcerer's Stone, it's the opening of the day that Voldemort has been destroyed. So I think that with Magicians we are being more pulled into. What is Quentin going to do with his next steps and why is he dealing with this fascination, like really his obsession of going to the other place? And then what is he going to do with that when he's given it? So yeah, and is that?

Speaker 1:

true, like we're wanting to find out too, like, oh, because you know. Again, this is us in a way, right Like for me when I'm reading it I'm like, but does he go to Fillory and is he happier? Because I want to know that secret.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And then we'll talk about I mean spoiler and we'll talk about the ending. But we find out that's not necessarily the case, right, like he comes back to the real world Eventually. He's still not super happy. We'll talk about that. But yeah, it's a slight difference.

Speaker 1:

And you said something that piqued my interest because I was like, oh, a listener might flag this. What was it? Oh, so it was the fact that you didn't really say this. But I was thinking Martin Chatwin is mentioned and he's kind of one of the big villains in this book, right, so he's mentioned, but you know, he's, unlike Harry Quinton's, not necessarily on Martin Chatwin's radar. They kind of have nothing to do with each other. But in Harry Potter we kind of come in with this built-in villain and we know, you know, once we read multiple books, we know that there's this prophecy that really links them together. And in theory, if Quinton kind of never went to break bills, if he never, you know, went to Fillory and all this stuff, who knows if Martin Chatwin wouldn't even cared who he was, yeah, so it's just a different setup. But I love this conversation and I think it's super interesting.

Speaker 2:

And that's also how we can be doing the same but different, right.

Speaker 2:

So, we have. We have elements of fantasy that we need to satisfy for the reader, and we're seeing those set up in this first chapter with how, especially as you go further and further into the first chapter, you're moving now into this more fantastical world, this more fantastical setting. Right, but we're definitely changing up. What exactly is the protagonist's role? What exactly is the plot that we're going to explore here on a different percentage level, like you said? So what is the conflict? How big is the conflict going to be?

Speaker 1:

Right, One more thing on that too. So if we were writing, imagine writing a set up of Harry Potter, but with a character like Quentin the 11-year-old boy is not going to be able to think of themselves in this way. So it wouldn't make sense to have the focus be on a worldview story. We're not sophisticated enough to be aware of our own worldviews in most cases and to be questioning why is my worldview this way, why am I unhappy? And to be thinking this clearly about how can I change this or how can I soothe my depressed soul.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, exactly, though it's just an interesting thought exercise. And that's the sympathetic factor, and I'm going to save this for the character question because it's a better character question, but I want to remind me, if I don't, I want to talk about the difference of the sympathetic factor, like they're both sympathetic but sympathetic, and there are different ways.

Speaker 1:

Right, Okay, so that's where we landed. On content genre, we think it's primarily worldview with very heavy action elements. So if they're not equal, then they're really close to being equal is what we'll say.

Speaker 2:

Which, and Savannah and I say this all the time the closer you can get those percentages, the stronger I find the story personally, me too yeah. So that's what I when I am saying this is going to be a best seller. That's what I'm looking for.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, all right.

Speaker 2:

So the second question we're going to do with plot and it's what is the story really about? Right? Yeah, we know our target reader, the big elements that we're going to satisfy on that, what the reader picks up the book for, but what is the plot about? What is the story actually about?

Speaker 1:

And so we kind of talked about a lot of this, right? So it's Quentin thinks that magic or that something else besides reality will solve his problems. And as he goes to break bills, he gets into the magical college. As he goes to, he makes friends, he goes to fillery all this stuff, and whether or not that his hypothesis is true, then by the end, you know not to spoil too much of it, I mean, it is 2009 that it came out, so whatever but basically he finds out that what he thought was not quite true, danger, bad things happen in the magical world. Both worlds are not black and white. There's bad and good things in both worlds and regardless of all the magic, that's what we're reading about. We're reading about you know what's going to happen to this guy. Is he going to find that happiness he seeks? And then we have a really fun backdrop that this unfolds in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, do you think that that can also be discussed in the realm of? Like? Heroes can be villains. Do you think that's something that he starts to learn, or is that not really relevant to this?

Speaker 1:

I mean yeah, because he's a little disillusioned with Martin Chatwin.

Speaker 2:

I only asked that because you had brought up Martin Chatwin.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I mean, I do think that it's basically anything he puts on a pedestal is whether it's fillery other kids, martin Chatwin, whatever it is. He's learning that things aren't black and white and that good guys can have bad parts, good places can have bad parts, reality can have good parts, you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Just shaking him up.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, all right, I just thought. So I'm going to save it again for the character question.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, we're going to get into character. I know that's going to be a good one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, all right. So the third question, just with point of view, and this is who is telling the story? So right away, we need to know who is telling the story and why is that a great choice for this story?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so we're limited to Quentin's point of view. I believe in the whole book.

Speaker 2:

Third person limited right now yeah.

Speaker 1:

Third person limited, and I think there are a few instances where it kind of starts to hint omniscient kind of like. When we talked about Harry Potter it's like a few sentences here and there kind of lean that way. But you know, if I had to say something, overall, I think it's third person limited. Yeah, I think it's kind of like Quentin.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's like. I mean, I didn't feel like we got large windows into James, or into the paramedic. Like we don't get those. If anything's that the subtle lines of omniscient might be more narrative in the sense of the big picture. But definitely I felt crowded and Quentin. I thought that was important because we are dealing so heavily with his emotional problems, emotional struggle.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I know we're going to get into this in the next question, but I think we should talk about, like, how the author painted him in such a way where we understand his mental state but we aren't annoyed by him because writers are always like how do I write a depressed character and not go too far?

Speaker 2:

Yes, and so I mean I think that's a perfect window into that question. So the fourth question is character, and we're dealing with a question of which character should they care about the most, meaning they is in the readers? What character should the reader care about the most?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I think there's no question. No question, it's Quentin. We like his friends, I think, to whatever level we want to like them. But we even like the paramedic, but we don't care, we're very invested in Quentin and that's kind of it, yep.

Speaker 2:

So it's interesting because, like when you are looking at the introduction of these characters, so probably we have, I think, six characters that would be on set.

Speaker 2:

That we see in this so because we have Quentin, julia James, the paramedic, the boy who's smoking at the end and the dead body. So we have quite a few characters that we see definitely, and again, I think the POB helps with this, making us care most about Quentin. For me personally, I felt I found him, of course, like this was the goal, right through interiority. I found him the most relatable and have felt a lot of what he has felt. So it's like that idea of he's sympathetic in the sense that he does feel like he's the one who's going to get overlooked. He talks about being white. He's kind of frustrated with himself for not being happy.

Speaker 2:

I'm the middle middle class, I have a good life in the middle middle class he talks about. So why am I unhappy? And how his unhappiness, his only really relief or release from that, is to then go to fillary in his mind and imagine what could be. And I think that a lot of people have done that. You know, a lot of reason why people love certain series and why they read them over and over again is because that world offers them something that they haven't quite been able to satisfy in their real life the reality versus the imagination.

Speaker 1:

Well, and let me highlight this line that I pulled out because it perfectly goes with what you said. It says in fillary you felt the appropriate emotions when things happen. Happiness was a real, actual, achievable possibility. It came when you called or no. It never left you in the first place. Like he totally thinks that this is the answer. And there's even another part that I pulled out. It says when he's thinking about James. He says the real problem with being around James was that he was always the hero and what did that make you either the sidekick or the villain?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I love that line. I do too.

Speaker 1:

We get so much insight into his worldview and to who he is and like I mean, even if we're confident people, we've probably all felt this way at some point or another. Definitely you know.

Speaker 2:

Especially with your best friends, like you don't. You know you love your best friends, but at some point we also do compare and if we're feeling in a place of a low, then we're going to. You know, as I always think of Taylor Swift's song Antihero, you know it's like I'm the problem, it's me. So you tend to go to that place. I found this really interesting because right shortly after that let me see if I can pull it up there's fun. You know, pretty teenagey, like opportunity Jerry banter between James, julia and Quentin. You know, more sophisticated but immature at the same time, banter. And you know, I don't know if it's quite crude, but it's. You know we have some jokes about wangs and things like that. We're like more in that area. But right after he talks about James being the hero, there's this James is talking about like why did I eat so much?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And Julia says because you're a greedy pig, because you're tired of being able to see your feet, these are trying to make your stomach touch your penis. And then James puts his hands behind his head, his fingers in his wavy chestnut hair, his camel cashmere coat, wide open to the November cold and belched mightily. So it's really funny because this is they're kind of describing him as sexier right, like with this, like bare feet chestnut hair carefree and then he belches and it's like so for someone like Quentin.

Speaker 2:

It's just interesting to see that from his perspective versus like Julia's perspective or a rumination perspective, because Julia obviously loves him, you know, and is having that banter and Quentin, then Quentin, the media thought, goes to cold. Never bothered him. James, that being Quentin, felt cold all the time, like he was trapped in his own private individual winter. So it's just really interesting because Quentin's seeing James as the hero and then he's seeing how free and easy he is and like that makes Julia laugh and it's these funny easygoing type of qualities. And Quentin, whether or not James and Julia see Quentin as that or not really doesn't matter, because Quentin sees himself as isolated in his own private individual winter.

Speaker 1:

Right, and he's I think this is really important because he's constantly comparing him to external things, whether it be other people, situations, whatever, and that's he's looking for that compass or that answer outside of himself and that's what we hope he learns throughout the novel is like, hey, it's not outside of you. You know you need to find that, that something, whatever it is inside yourself and you know that's kind of what we want to see. But it is interesting even on the line level. It's like comparing the words that are used is very effective or very effective when it comes to comparing. So comparing, like you said earlier, super normal, we all do it, you know, even if we're like totally happy and love our best friends, we still compare.

Speaker 1:

So it's such a good way to get the reader in his perspective and relating to him.

Speaker 2:

Right, Right, and that's where it's like I come up. When he is comparing himself to James, I don't see it as resentment so much as sadness.

Speaker 1:

Right. That's where it's not going to live up to that Right.

Speaker 2:

And then even later, when they're about to go into the interview, james says something like James has a strong awareness of when Quinton needs to be pulled out a little bit. And he does it. You know because you can tell like he kind of he cares about his friend and he talks about forget where it is now. But he says something along the lines of like I know you.

Speaker 1:

No one understands you like that, no one understands you but me, like I do.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly, and so, like you know that there's this deep rooted friendship with that. At the same time, you can imagine how challenging that would be to be in love or, you know, to be attracted to your best friend's girlfriend Girl, yeah. To your friend, right, yeah. So I think that that makes him really relatable. The pressures of college, it seems like the expectations of what he is supposed to be doing versus where he goes is there, and then, of course, dealing with the fascination of the dead body and then being handed, exactly like what you were talking about before. The question is more along the lines of what do you do when you're handed everything you've dreamed about before? And he has given that in the end and starts to go forward with the manuscript that he reads, the magicians, and but I think that is the big question in the story Will you change? Because you are given what you've always dreamed that you could have? And that's a very different question from something like a Harry Potter.

Speaker 2:

And to kind of just go back into that, I wanted to mention about the sympathetic qualities. So one of Harry's greatest qualities is his humility, I think you know, alongside it, with his courage and his loyalty. And Harry, when you meet Harry in Sorcerer's Stone and he's the boy under the cupboard, you know, under the the cupboard, under the stairs, he's this 11-year-old boy who has basically been abused by his aunt and uncle and cousin for his entire life and he's still not bitter about it, you know, like he's. He's just kind of dreams of more, like you know, yes, it would be great if I could have these things. But you don't see him sitting there and wallowing in his pity, like needing pity. And even when he's given things, I think his humility when he's the boy who lived he doesn't want the thing you know.

Speaker 2:

So that's a big quality of of Harry Potter is his humility. But we kind of see him in this way of not really dreaming that there is a possibility for something better, so that when the letter is handed to him it's this oh my gosh, my life could be better than this, here's my way out, and there's a great excitement with that. And then with the magicians of Quentin, he desperately dreams of something better. Right, but are you going to be given it? I mean, what are you going to do with it? If it's given to you? Can you change? So it's interesting because we've kind of flipped the question Right With your situations.

Speaker 1:

Right, and it's like we said before it's more age appropriate. It would not make sense either way. You flipped it right, so like if Harry was a very self aware 11 year old, that would be strange, right. I mean, could totally be possible. I don't know, but it's probably the reason.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then if we flipped it and Quentin was a 17, 18 year old boy living under the stairs, not having any agency, being abused by his family, that would be weird too. So I think it's just really cool. Like you said, it's the same but different. Right, similar but different.

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Speaker 1:

I also think it's funny that, like Quentin, like he said, he knows the answer to his own problem in these opening chapters. He has a good life, he has the setup for things that other people would want and he still is seeking more because he has to go into himself to find the happiness. Yeah, and like we, if we're paying attention, we kind of already know it's going to go two ways right. He's either going to accept reality and be happy and find that happiness in himself, or he's still going to be the same by the end.

Speaker 2:

And that first choice is a hard choice, right, right, like that is a hard thing that I think is very relatable to these older ages, because we do have to start to like you know we have to start to figure out, take responsibility. Yeah, we have to start to figure out that, like life is never going to be all fun and games. And what do you do with that? Right?

Speaker 1:

So well. And also, like you know, I've gone to therapy before and they tell you that you know, if it's bad things, you can't blame other people. If it's good things, you can't attribute them all to other people. It's about how you react to things, right? And so it's funny because Quentin, throughout the whole story, even now when we meet him on page one, whether it's bad or good, it's like not in his hands, right, Right, Except it's like there's this kind of I'm not equal or I'm not as good as these other people. But then, when bad things happen, sometimes he blames himself and sometimes he blames other people.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

When good things happen, it's like you know, I'm less than, but also other people are more than, so it's just really interesting. Like, no matter what it's, there's still like you know, he's still not getting to the answer Right, and when it's bad, he's still questioning everything. He's really interesting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and I mean it again just really speaks to a very realistic, you know a really realistic mirror of what I think people in this age category could be going through, Right, okay, so let's move on to question five Question. Five deals with setting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And that question is where and when does the story take place? So setting is, I think, really interesting for this Savannah because we are given the different fantasy setting. That is what we're changing a lot Right, but it's also kind of tips the hat off to, as I mentioned. I think like that at least the entrance of a Narnia-esque feel in my opinion.

Speaker 1:

And I'm pretty sure the author said that Fillory, the books and all this were based on Narnia or his obsession with Narnia, right.

Speaker 1:

I mean it's like, it's good, it's like the jaganon of these portals, right, right, yeah, okay, so, yeah, so we're well, we're in Brooklyn, new York, right, and it's during his final year in high school, because we know he's going to college, we know it's November, it says that in the text. And then, specifically, we are going into a man's house. So this is the guy that's doing the interview for Princeton. We go through, you know, the Brooklyn streets, through an overgrown garden, and then we end up on the grounds of break bills. So we get all of that in this first chapter, which is amazing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and also why I think this. When we break down the scenes, we'll see why it's complicated, it's a doozy yeah. Yeah, but I also just want to pull out something real quick. I think it's page. I have a printed copy, so I don't know what the king of Russia would be. But page six. He talks about when Quentin needs to, when he needs to break away from his reality and let his mind wander into fillery.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And then there's a page break and it says Christopher, christopher, christopher Plovers sorry, christopher Plovers fillery, and further is a series and it ends with it never left you in the first place. So it's not even quite two pages, but it's page six and seven for me, and I thought it was interesting because we do break off to get a very detailed description of February in the setting, which we then get you know bits and pieces of as he starts to enter it at the end.

Speaker 1:

Right so.

Speaker 2:

I thought that was a really interesting way to set up this world in a way that wasn't just dumping on us details for details sake, because they're satisfied, and also at the end of that chapter we're excited because we see the obsession starting to come true, become true. I think that this was really stylistic in how it did this, because setting is so important for this story. So it was important to pay attention to have more description and details of setting in this first chapter where, if you were in another novel where setting is important, but not maybe to the significance, the level of significance as this book you probably wouldn't need this much description of a setting in your first chapter. But in fantasy, setting is usually immersively important. So you will see more descriptions of setting in the first chapter.

Speaker 1:

Well, and also because it's a portal fantasy, he had to do kind of heavy lifting on two settings right. So we weren't getting to break bills until the end of the first chapter. So we did have to give some kind of hint at fillery. It makes sense because Quentin's also obsessed with fillery. So it's not random, it's not weird. It adds to the character, it adds to the setting, it adds to the plot.

Speaker 2:

Definitely, definitely. Okay. Well, let's end the question six. So question six. Now we're going to deal with emotion and we're going to the question is how should they feel they again being the reader about what's happening?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So I always like to think about kind of three when I'm looking at fantasy three main emotions and its curiosity, concern and wonder. In all stories maybe we're not trying to evoke wonder, but in fantasy we definitely are, but we're. So in this first chapter I'm concerned about Quentin because we know how unhappy he is, there's no question. We know he longs for something more, which again, I think is relatable. We're curious about the strange interaction with the paramedic, the envelope, with the manuscript, and about this new place he's arrived at. So there's a lot of curiosity being evoked. We're also curious about, like, how is he going to turn out? So we're curious and concerned about Quentin. And then there's wonder, because we hear about fillery and the text evokes similar feelings of wonder in us as fantasy readers. And then at the end of the chapter he goes through a portal that we don't understand and what has happened? So, considering the rest of the book, I think these are the three perfect emotions to feel in the beginning. What do you think, Abigail?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think that you executed that beautifully.

Speaker 1:

I also had a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yes, well, I can tell it was very well articulated. I also think that you know that intrigue is the one that I really hinge on as well, as well as the emotional feelings I've talked about before. I am concerned for his emotional state. It's very difficult to pull yourself out of depression when you're in it, or at least on happiness when he's in it, and especially since he doesn't understand why he's in it, you know.

Speaker 2:

so there is that concern and that sympathy that I have for him. The dead body on the page and this could just be because of over a decade studying stories. I'm going here and I'm saying to myself there is no way that this can just be a coincidence when this interviewer for Princeton alumni had this manuscript of the magicians, like there has to be something in there. No, I'm asking this almost a poshial question because I am very intrigued and I see that there are also life and death stakes in that way, potentially because is this dead body just a dead body, right, or is there a bigger?

Speaker 1:

game of play here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so and you won't see. I don't remember, so you have to answer this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, this is where I get confused on the show versus the book, because in the show I believe it's used as more of like a setup to bring the paramedic who ends up being Jane Chatwin together with Quinton. But I think in the book she's been either way. She's been watching him, so she's this is her chance to kind of get in and see if he's the guy that is going to solve the problems.

Speaker 2:

And that's true. We see that right, because I think that when you're seeing, it's her that I think you're sitting with and you're asking yourself there has to be more to her. There's a lot of attention.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's her more than the dead body. I think the dead body is an opportunity for her to get in there, but yeah, there's nothing like evil going on with the dead body.

Speaker 2:

No but yeah, but it's like almost when you're first reading this probably as a reader, I know when I'm reading this I'm questioning is there more to this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think you should be Right.

Speaker 2:

So that's interesting right. And then the attention is put on the paramedic, especially because in a very smooth way, because we have Quinton wishing that Julia would look at him the way that she looks at James, and then he talks about why does the paramedic have to be attractive, Like he's attracted to her.

Speaker 2:

So it's interesting because we're going, we're kind of smoothing it over with here. It is like we have his he's locking in on certain details of this, but the dialogue exchange is lighthearted and they kind of like, well, at least like for the paramedic right, and she talks, she says something about why would you be sorry you didn't kill him, type of thing, and then he's thinking about that. He's like well, you know, I think that just by being a human you'd be sorry that someone so interesting there is.

Speaker 1:

There is a tension spent on the dialogue exchange between the two of them, and we don't know that she's feeling him out, you know for other reasons.

Speaker 1:

But I do think it's funny that Quinton notices that, james notices their interaction and he's just like you know, for once in my life someone's more interested in me than James. So they're like Abigail saying the way that our attention goes is we kind of skip over, like what could this paramedic be about? And we're focused on, like, oh, this must feel good for Quinton. Oh, I wonder how James is feeling. You know, whatever we're focused more on the surface, which is, I think, artfully done, and James kind of gets grumpy after that.

Speaker 1:

He does Well and I think he also gets grumpy, which is really interesting, because Quinton takes the envelope. Yes, and it's almost like James was unwilling to kind of do the adventurous thing or the you know, he was unwilling to take that action. So he might be comparing himself to Quinton a little bit.

Speaker 2:

And that's where I think how should they feel about what's happening? That really starts to overlap now with this last question of I like to relate this to stakes there. You know we're looking at the hook as well with this question, working at premise as well with this question. But why should readers care about what happens next? And I think that that decision right there is. What we're really hinged on is when Quinton says yes and James says no, and you can almost see like James regretting it in that moment.

Speaker 1:

But Quinton is not Right, he's still hoping for adventure and I think, like that's why, personally, I care. It's like at that point, you know, I feel the same as him, especially when he goes through and he's at break bills and he sees Elliot. You know, I'm excited for this new adventure. I'm skeptical because, like I'm just like Quinton right, could this be too good to be true? But I'm also hopeful that I'm going to get on to go on the same adventure that Quinton gets to go on, and maybe there will be happiness and fillery. You know Exactly.

Speaker 2:

This is your chance to find out right. Yeah, yeah, okay, awesome. So that concludes the key first chapter questions which was a lot already.

Speaker 2:

Yes, which was a lot. So now we're going to dig into scenes and we'll do this as concisely as we can. Yeah, but ultimately there was. I found this challenging to figure out where we're breaking up scenes and I told Savannah I think a lot of for me. I see a lot of scenes sliding into scenes and then just a matter of, but I mostly scenes do exist, right, you have to have a first chapter with scenes, ideally, right? So there are sometimes prologues that necessarily have a scene and then you'd move into what is the first scene, the first chapter, this one, I think we're having multiple scenes and Savannah and I were debating between is this two scenes? This is three scenes. We can see arguments for each. We don't necessarily have this is I'm super a thousand percent confident. This is my final answer. Yeah, it's a million dollar answer.

Speaker 2:

So we'll go into it and just fall apart and give our thoughts on that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we also did this on purpose because we wanted to show what happens, like we're not always sure, and that's okay, because what we're going to land at is why does this work? So you know, I think I I see this firsthand a lot in the in my course, in my membership, where people are like but where exactly does it start and end? And it's like, okay, but is that really what we want to focus on? Or is it the arc of change and kind of the, the conflict and the decision and and the things that are more important than like, what actual word does the scene start and end on? Right? So we kind of wanted it to be a little messy just to show, a that we don't always have the answers, and B, you might not either, and what can you still take from your analysis? So, yeah, we're going to figure out whether this is.

Speaker 1:

Our hypothesis is two or three scenes. We do have arguments for each. I think Abigail and I are pretty, pretty, pretty much in agreement on the first scene. So we think, and we like to think about this in terms of goals, right. So one of the things kind of talking all over the place, but one of the things we like to look at is goals. So we say what are the goals that we can identify of the scene within, within this chapter? Right? So the very first thing we know that Quentin's doing is he's going to his Princeton interview, right? So how will we know that that is achieved or not? He's either going to complete the interview or he's not right. So we can start building out the structure around that question and that answer.

Speaker 1:

So this is where we kind of agreed that we have one scene and it's, you know, quentin and Elliott, or Quentin and James and Julia. They go to this man's house for the interview. So all the stuff in the beginning is more or less a setup. The inciting incident and, Abigail, you can jump in if you agree or disagree I think the inciting incident is when nobody answers the door. So they knock once. Nobody answers. It's kind of like this guy's expecting us. We didn't expect nobody to answer.

Speaker 1:

I think the turning point happens when they knock again and the door opens slightly. So you know, minutes have passed, the turning point, the door opens and then they face this choice of what to do. So do we call out, do we go inside, do we wait? And Quentin realizes that James is really hesitant. And in the interiority we learn that Quentin's like this is how those fantasy books start right. Something strange that doesn't compute happens and his interest is really peaked. He's like this was a fillery book, this would be the beginning, right. So for him that's kind of the crisis is like do I go in or not? The climax he goes in and oh, that's the climax he goes in the resolution is that he explores the house a little bit, including this cabinet. That peaks his interest because again he thinks it could be, you know, if it was ever going to happen to him. Now's the time he explores it. It's not a portal to anywhere cool, it's not a portal at all. And then he turns around and he sees a dead body on the floor.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Any thoughts there? Abigail, yeah, I think that.

Speaker 2:

I would agree with you and all of that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I will say, when I was trying to debate, is this two or three scenes? I had Dr Suman about this podcast. I could see why people would think maybe a turning point isn't happening or maybe an un-studying incident isn't happening until we see the dead body, because there's a lot of him moving through just getting to the interview and trying to. And that is like we talk about goals, right, what is this goal really? You know in this first scene and say it's to go have this interview at Princeton. Do you agree with that? Yeah, this is a little nice. So the goal here is I need to go have this interview. He doesn't even seem like super excited about it, but it is something that he's going to do. And, sorry, my two-month-old is now joining us in the call.

Speaker 1:

So feature baby screen. Welcome to the call.

Speaker 2:

Thank you If you're here, something's happening, the diaper or baby squeaks, that's yeah, so you know. Basically, when he's moving through that I'm always looking for. What are the significant events and actions or revelations that are now going to interfere with that goal? And I would agree with you. I think that you could end with seeing the dead body and that's what we're going to see us sliding into the second scene.

Speaker 2:

Originally, when I was looking at this, I was so hinged on the dead body I was wondering if that was where I go with the turning point or incident. When we're seeing that dead body and then all of this introductory of character, of his fascination with fillery. You know, really like movement towards that dead body is going to be what works. It's just a really long introduction before an incident or a turning point. But I like Savannah's analysis better and I think that this will just mean that we're going to split it into probably three scenes instead of two. And I like that because I do think that it pulls us deeper into Quentin and his obsessions of wanting something more exciting than what his life currently is, which is first called to our attention through his interiority. Like you said, when that door doesn't open and then is kind of creeped to jar.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, I like it.

Speaker 1:

The other thing I'll say too is is it wrong if we said the dead body was the inciting incident?

Speaker 1:

I mean, I don't necessarily think there's a wrong way to interpret this, but the reason I don't stop there, or I don't see that as the inciting incident, is because there's so much attention paid to Quentin's setup, really thinking that there could be another world besides our own and he really wants to escape.

Speaker 1:

So it's kind of like I also wouldn't argue with saying the turning point could be when he sees the cabinet and then it's like do I follow through with exploring this, even though I might be embarrassed, and then he is at the end or not, because it's an important decision, because this is what makes him Quentin. So I think that's why, if we're and this is why it's, I think, fun when Abigail and I look at it from two different perspectives. When she has not read the story for so many years and she's coming to it, she's naturally going to be more on the surface of what's happening, and then when I'm like super nerd over here and engaged in like every single line, looking for meaning. None of these scenarios are right or wrong or right, but it's just interesting and just to go off of that more.

Speaker 2:

I think, that, reinforcing again what we talked about with Quentin genre. I think that that can play a role in what you really start to pay, what you start to define as the big commandments. We used to have commandments with storytelling to break down the scene, because you tend to lean into what you believe was prioritized as the great, what was prioritized as the greatest importance in the scene level. And if you were looking at what is Quentin really caring about, that would make sense to go more towards that door, something like, not that it can't work this way, but often a dead body on the page. That's going to be loud and it's going to take up a lot of attention quickly.

Speaker 2:

However, look how long it took for us to get to that dead body. And we're not dealing with something like a crime story, which maybe that would be a pretty good, pretty common and setting a sin for a first chapter in a crime story. Not that it can't be the incident for inaction or for maybe even a worldview or content wise, and definitely not in the fantasy. However, I think that we have to be asking yourself what is really upsetting Quentin and for us, as we're looking over this again and again. Like you said, there is no right or wrong answer to this.

Speaker 1:

I doubt left harassment used these when he was extreme Right, when he went to his extreme.

Speaker 2:

I don't think his editor probably did, but these are tools that we like to use because it helps us understand how to cut scenes, in order to understand how to play in that story while capturing the reader's attention.

Speaker 1:

And also where to put emphasis, because if this, like you're saying, if this was meant to be more of an action story or something more like Harry Potter, our emphasis would need to be different. Yes, again, just why it's so important to know genre. So, either way, I think this was the easier part for us. We're like okay, we agree that this is the first scene and by the end of it, quentin can't accomplish his goal. So that goal window is closed, the interviewer is dead, he's not going to have the interview right. So then the second scene.

Speaker 1:

This is where we had more trouble, because there's a few important things that happened. So after this, the paramedics come and he talks to the woman who ends up being Jane Chatwin. She gives him a manuscript, he opens it, he follows the note and he arrives at break bills. So this is where we had trouble, because we're like okay, the conversation with Jane Chatwin, the paramedic, is very significant. However, it's a very short little blurb within the chapter. It's like 1200 words. So I think what we're kind of landing on is that it's either within the scene where it's kind of like he gets the dead bodies there, he gets the manuscript and then his decision leads him to break bills, or it's like the part with Jane Chatwin leads to this decision of do I take the manuscript or not? And then he takes it and then it opens up a new scene. So we were torn between those two options, and this is what we really wanted to talk through live. So, abigail, let's think about his goals, because I think that's what's going to help us figure this out. So what?

Speaker 2:

do you think his?

Speaker 1:

goal is.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I just really emphasize that because I do think whenever you're stuck analyzing scenes, go back to what is the goal. Yeah, because I think that can help you start to figure that out. So, after he sees that dead body, when we're thinking about what is his life, I want to find the wording of it. Do you know what page it's from?

Speaker 1:

I do, and I think I know what you're going to say. So he wants to leave, he doesn't want to be involved in this.

Speaker 2:

So 15 minutes later in the foyer was full of people and activity Quentin Satinacorter, in the cane, chair like a pallbearer at the funeral of somebody he'd never met. Right, so very awkward and I feel like I have to stay here. But I don't want to stay here, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And he even says, like he's not making eye contact. He says if he didn't move, nobody could involve him in this any further.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. And it is interesting because, like when we get into the conversation with the paramedic and he's saying I'm sorry, you know, and like he's having this kind of like side conversation with James about almost feeling guilty, like I shouldn't have called him pedophile, quentin said out loud that was wrong, extremely wrong. James agreed, they spoke slowly, like they were both trying out language for the very first time. They don't know what their place is in this. It's like, you know, like are we going to be questions? Are we not going to be questioned? Can we just go? Can we sign out the door? Like it's very much in those in that realm.

Speaker 2:

But also, at the same time, he's whether or not this is a, you know, brutal dead body, which it's not, in that case we're not dealing with like a mass murder here, or not. Seeing a dead body is shocking, right. I think that, especially the younger you are, the less death that you've encountered. Hopefully, that is. That's something. That's you're going to not really know what to do in that situation and that's yeah. So I think that's really what the goal is here. So then it's a matter of how is he going to go about having that goal interrupted, or how is he going to achieve that goal?

Speaker 1:

And I also think it's so. It's kind of we have to zoom out too, because we could say his goal is to just not be involved, but does. At this point, would we say his goal is to like leave and go home, or do we think that comes later?

Speaker 2:

I see what you're saying.

Speaker 1:

Because I this will determine what we do. I guess that's true.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I think he's more immediate right now. I think it's not necessarily because I don't, I don't when he leaves this building, do you think? Do you think that there's a sense of him really having a goal of I'm just going to go home?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So there's a part where, right below, where he says when they're kind of like, james says this is bad, quentin says extremely bad, and then he says if he didn't move, nobody can involve them. And then below that, he wondered when it would be all right for them to leave. He couldn't get rid of the feeling of shame. So he wants to avoid negative feelings and leave, right, sure. And then so he wants to leave. And then, like later on it says how's he going to explain this to his parents? So I think he's kind of thinking like I've already been gone a while. And the reason I'm putting emphasis on this is for two reasons because when he follows the note into the garden, that's kind of when it's like he's not going home or when he opens the manuscript.

Speaker 1:

He's not going home, that's right. And then I'm thinking like backing up from that. If his goal is to just get out of here, yes, the paramedic gets involved in that and prevents him from getting out of here, but he still does decide to leave. So are we saying that he leaves and he accomplishes his goal of getting out, or is it that the goal is he wants to leave and go home and like get away from the situation and then everything's kind of a complication to that?

Speaker 2:

You know, I see what you're saying and I don't know the answer for sure, but yeah, I know, I know If I had to pick, I lean towards. He just seems to get out of this building and then there's a new goal of go home, and that's where I'd say like we have a very short scene, but then we have another scene before the chapter ends.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So let's analyze it that way just for fun. And then we can maybe come back on top of that and say, if we were to do this as one scene, what would that be? So let's say that his goal is to just get out of this situation, whatever that means, like literally leaving the situation. So, I'm going to interrupt.

Speaker 2:

That, then, is going to be questioning, right?

Speaker 1:

Right, just like the fact that they can't, and the paramedic kind of taking an interest in him, right, yes, well, anne, kind of, not. Elliot James, well, they're both kind of talking right, but the paramedic announces he's dead. And they were like what happened? It's a rebroad image, nice way to go if you have to go, which he did must have been a drinker. So she's like drawing them into the situation which is opposite of his goal. And so then the turning point, what would we say? That would be.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think that's when she hands in the envelope.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I did too.

Speaker 2:

Because that pushes him into the decision of do I take it or not?

Speaker 1:

Right and he even again he's comparing himself to James. So he says he's something like he is even more inclined to take it because he knew James wouldn't Right.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

And so, going on that train of thought, the climax is he takes it. And then the resolution is he accomplishes that goal of getting out of here, because now him and James are outside on the stoop and James, they're upset at each other and they part ways.

Speaker 2:

And just to reinforce why Quinton is the character that we care about the most, I think that comparison again of he takes it partly because he knows James won't. That is something interesting to say about him. He takes this because James is more satisfied with his life than Quinton, it seems like, so he doesn't need that envelope to fix anything and Quinton sees this as his adventure. So he doesn't know what's in that, but he's going to take that. We're going to fault Quinton because he has more to gain and more to lose than James does.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, everything's always a possible escape for him. So we could say that closes out the scene. They've parted ways. Now Quinton's alone. He's also got what he doesn't know yet is a ticket to a different world, because he does have the manuscript. So then let's carry on that train of thought. So that would be scene two. I do think it's valuable to look at that as scene two because the interaction with the paramedic is so significant to what pulls him into the conflict later with the chat wins.

Speaker 2:

And we find out that she's not just a paramedic too, but there is definitely attention spent on her. That as a reader, subconsciously you're expecting something to pay off with that Right.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yes, I agree. And so then scene three his goal we're saying now specifically is like he's accomplished his goal of getting out, so now he wants to go home. He's thinking about how am I going to explain this to my parents? So the conflict that gets in the way of that is what's in the envelope.

Speaker 2:

What's in the envelope Exactly. So that's where I'd say the incident is probably opening the envelope.

Speaker 1:

It's like the main script and seeing it's book six of Fillering Further, which we know because he's told us there's only five books. So then the note we know flies out of the book. It flies into this garden. He follows it and then he gets to a point in the garden, which I think is the turning point, where he says like he thinks he's going through poisonous plants possibly. And then in the text it says he stopped All of a sudden. It was quiet, no car horns, no stereo sirens, his phone had stopped ringing, it was bitter cold and his fingers were numb. And it literally says like turn back or keep going. Yeah, exactly which is the crisis?

Speaker 2:

And what is really interesting about that is real quick spin it. I think that I can see people arguing well, is the incident when the letter gets ripped out of his hand, or is it when he opens the envelope? But I think opening the envelope, because that is where his intrigue is really peaks the most. And then when the letter gets ripped out of his hands, again it's based on his goal. Going home, though, right, because then when the letter gets ripped out of his hands, we have a chronic patient, because this is now interfering with what's excited him. But if you had a different goal, then maybe you would be arguing something different. And again, there's no perfect answer to this. But why can we argue why something works or doesn't work? Because we can see how it could be executed in the way that we're seeing this play out.

Speaker 1:

And we'll talk about that, because I do want to do a version if these two scenes were one scene, just for fun. So hang on to your hats. Yeah, sure. So the climax is he keeps going, like he says turn back or go. He keeps going. And the resolution is he arrives at this on this grassy green and he sees a boy smoking a cigarette. So obviously he's changed locations, he's been pulled into the conflict he doesn't know that yet, but he is and he's getting what he thinks he wants. So he's getting a new world where happiness could be possible.

Speaker 2:

So now, just for fun, is this story no what?

Speaker 1:

he says is this fillery? Like he's still hoping that. But just for fun, let's think about if because I know there are people out there that are going to like to nerd out more on this let's go back to in the house and let's say if his goal was at that point to like leave and go home, right, we could analyze this as one whole scene instead of two separate scenes, and I think it would just be very similar, right? So the paramedic is talking to him, she hands him. I would say that handing him the manuscript is the turning point, or opening the envelope is the turning point. Whatever it gets him to the same spot. Yes, no matter how you analyze it.

Speaker 2:

So I think that's what's really cool is that if Abigail showed up and said I think it's one scene and I thought they were two, we would still end up at the same answer, which is the point of the scene Right, and then again it's just you're changing that analysis based on what you think his goal is initially, but the events to get him to where he needs to go, right, or I mean the scene is maybe in a different order of importance. Is that what you're saying?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and also the genre. Like this is what I'm getting at, spoiler to my own thoughts coming in five seconds, but a lot of writers will spend a lot of time on their opening chapters going like well, what is the incident? It's an turning point whatever.

Speaker 1:

And then if they don't know the rest of the story, you can't know where to put emphasis and where not to. So your first version, this chapter, might contain two scenes, just like we said in the second example, and then when you come back to it you might say, hey, that part with Jane Chatman is really significant. I need to expand that, I need to add in commandments to that part. It's really going to be three scenes. That's something you might not know until you get to the end of your draft. So either way, like I think what I'm trying to say is that if you, no matter how you look at it, the point is still the same because you're thinking about it on that higher level, and then you can go back and kind of fine tune it and put the emphasis wherever you need to.

Speaker 2:

I think that's a really valid point especially because, exactly that, I'm a huge advocate of knowing your story ending before you write your book, because I think it's going to greatly change everything. Right, but there's a TSLL quote that says what we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. So really, in that line of once you know your end, your beginning is going to change and what you elaborate on in detail is going to alter, based on what you need the reader to know to move forward in a satisfying and cathartic way. So, yeah, I love that you did that. Challenge Savannah, because we do. We get there in a pirate. I analyze it as the two scenes I just want to see. I think you could even still argue that the incident is being handled with the envelope. Did you see? The turning point is opening it.

Speaker 2:

The turning point might also still be the letter getting ripped away. The goal is that what is drawing him towards? Would you agree that, then the crisis still needs to be about. Do I go forward or do I not?

Speaker 1:

I mean it could be, but also I wouldn't be mad if you said to me the crisis is open the envelope or not, take the envelope or not, either way we're getting him. The results are still going forward.

Speaker 2:

You're going forward Right, and I think that's the thing it's about going forward right.

Speaker 1:

And this is what people I feel like want to argue a lot about. I mean, not with me. I'm not saying any of you are going to be arguing with me, but it's like we want to over analyze and argue with ourselves that we have to pick the right thing, and it's like, actually, you need to know the point of what you're doing, yes, and then that's the only thing that matters. Not how you describe the arc of change necessarily, it's just is it appropriate for what you're trying to do? And then it's not necessarily like the end of the world. If you call something an inciting incident and I call it a turning point, the fact of the matter is is it delivering on the point you're trying to get across? That's right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just I like pointing that out because people spend way too much time really over analyzing it and when we're writing our first and second and even third drafts, we're not going to have all the stuff to analyze we're seeing in the text because it's been through multiple rounds of revisions and rewrites, right. So it's like when you're first analyzing your own scenes, you might just realize your conflict doesn't escalate or that you don't have a turning point, and that's really valid, Like it's still very valid to go through the exercise, but don't get so bogged down in the nuances of the different things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that's also why, when I'm coaching writers, I like to say where do you see psychic mimics and editing tools? Yeah, because you can. I mean, you can use asset strategy to plot out scene by scene. But sometimes I see people go so micro in the planning stages that it really paralyzes them, because they you need to allow things to evolve, I guess, and so you know exactly what that. What is the point of the scene and how can you best execute? That are the details in there. It might be shifting when you actually write the scene with it, but I do think that it's valuable. You need to know why one scene leads into the next. What does that cause in the factory directory? So that I think you need is the planning tool.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we in notes and novel, my course we do goal conflict decision because at certain points, like, we don't need to go so far in the weeds. So, you know, feel free to take that as a listener and then come back around If you're. You know, let's say you're reading a scene in your story and you're realizing the conflict doesn't escalate properly, then you can go in and say, okay, well, what is the inciting incident, what are those rising complications, and then what is the turning point? You know. So choose your own adventure, pick up and put down whatever tools you want, but yeah, I think, no matter how we analyze this, we get to the same place. But our instinct is to say there are three scenes within this first chapter. Yep.

Speaker 2:

Yep, I agree with that.

Speaker 1:

And hopefully listeners can see how we got there and whether or not you totally agree with her logic. As long as we're for anybody listening, as long as anyone's able to defend and kind of explain how they got to their answer, I think we're all good to go 1000%.

Speaker 2:

And you didn't get this. I'd love to hear from you. I'm sure Savannah would love to hear from you. We always love to continue to nerd out about scenes. This is what we saw. Maybe you didn't see it that way. What did you see instead? You know, let's continue this discussion off this podcast episode.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let us know. You can find us both on social media. I'm at Savannah Gilboe or at savannahgilboe on Instagram and you are at Abigail K Perry on Instagram, right?

Speaker 2:

Yep, exactly, so maybe we'll see you there. All right, thanks everybody. Yeah, thanks, savannah. This is great. I look forward to doing another deep dive with you soon and thank you, listeners, for coming in. We always love these discussions. Hopefully you can take something away from this and apply it to your own writing.

Speaker 1:

Yep, thank you. So that's it for today's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in and for showing your support. If you want to check out any of the links I mentioned in this episode, you can find them in the show notes listed in the description of each episode inside your podcast player or at savannahgilboecom forward slash podcast. If you're an Apple user, I'd really appreciate it if you took a few seconds to leave a rating and a review. Your ratings and reviews tell Apple that this is a podcast that's worth listening to and, in turn, your reviews will help this podcast get in front of more fiction writers just like you. And while you're there, go ahead and hit that follow button, because there's going to be another brand new episode next week, full of actionable tips, tools and strategies to help you become a better writer. So I'll see you next week and until then, happy writing.

Analyzing "The Magicians" Chapter One
Fantasy Adventure in First Chapter Analysis
Exploring the New Adult Fantasy Genre
Comparing Harry Potter and the Magicians
Comparing Perspectives and Self-Reflection
Analyze Setting and Emotions in Fantasy
Analyzing Quentin's Goals and Turning Points
Analyzing the Protagonist's Goals and Conflicts
Analyzing Scenes, Importance of Point of View
Improve Fiction Writing Skills and Support