American Sniper

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for American Sniper. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

-- General Storytelling:  Complete
-- Act Order Storytelling:  Complete
-- Character List:  Major Characters
-- Build Characters:  Motivations Only

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

In the end, Chris changes his priority from US military to the family he started.

Main Character Growth

Chris adds to himself the understanding and the capacity to be the protector of his own—his family

Main Character Approach

Chris exudes confidence, self-reliance, and emotional invincibility to affect people around him.

Main Character Mental Sex

Since Chris believes that he needs to protect US military lives, he enlists in the military. When enemies attack his men, he shoots them. When the enemy injures Biggles, he retaliates. When the enemy sniper shoots his men, he shoots the enemy sniper. When he believes he needs to protect soldiers, he blows off his wife. When he feels threatened by her prying, he acts strong.

Story Driver

Terrorists attack US embassies; the sniper decides to join the SEALs. An Iraqi boy approaches a marine caravan with a bomb; the sniper decides to shoot him. The enemy sniper shoots a CE soldier; the sniper decides to shoot the enemy sniper. Then, terrorists descend upon the sniper’s hiding place; the sniper decides to concede to Taya’s wishes for him to prioritize family.

Story Limit

Chris can only kill his enemies (like the first little boy) or let his enemies kill his men. Chris can only deploy or remain with Taya. He can only prioritize the military or his family. Once Chris finally chooses his family over the US military, prioritizing the US military is no longer an option.

Story Outcome

The sniper kills the enemy sniper and then is physically rescued from the warzone and later internally by the VA. He chooses to his family instead of soldiers. Consequently, he is handed back his ability to protect soldiers, albeit in a new way: he volunteers at the VA hospital to support the spirits of rehabilitating and disabled soldiers.

Story Judgment

Chris’ prioritization of his family is for the best; he seeks help for PTSD, starts down the path to healing, interacts with disabled veterans to help them emotionally heal, plays with his love and his children, and begins to display a sense of rest.

Overall Story Throughline

"War-Fighting between the US Military & Iraqi Insurgents"

Overall Story Throughline

Everyone in the story is engaged with war-fighting a war. The US military and the Iraqi insurgents fight each other in war through gun-battles, ambushes, and guerilla tactics.

Overall Story Concern

Attacking & Counterattacking Enemies—The US military and the Iraqi insurgents violently attack one another. The US military invaded the homeland of the insurgents to overthrow the extra-continental terrorist threat. The SEALs spearhead the operation. Iraqi insurgents have bolstered their acts of terror through the use of children, women, and guerilla tactics, hoping to defeat the forces and the spirit of the US military.

Chris is concerned with protecting soldiers. Taya is concerned with stopping her husband from going to war. Marc Lee is concerned with doing the right thing. Biggles is concerned with doing his job. Mustafa is concerned with sniping US soldiers. The Butcher is concerned with enforcing his leader’s will. The Sheikh is concerned with surviving. Grey-Winston is concerned with staying out of it.

Overall Story Issue

Achieving Experience in the Dilemmas of War—The Iraqi Insurgents are more experienced with navigating their homeland and fighting guerilla wars than the US, which gives the Iraqi Insurgents the upper hand even though most of them are far less skilled than the US military. But the US military is more experienced in waging war in general. Also, the SEALs and the Iraqi Insurgents, directly and indirectly, experience physical and psychological trauma.

Overall Story Counterpoint

kill is a highly prized asset in the film, focused only on Chris’ legendary aim and kill-count.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Experience vs.Skill

Chris’ skill in combat is able to preserve the SEALs long enough to achieve combat experience. Yet Chris’ remarkable skill is what keeps bringing him back to the traumatic experiences of combat.

Overall Story Problem

Not Applying Enough Crippling Force to the Most Effective Enemy Combatant—Neither the SEALs nor the insurgents do a good job accurately thwarting each other. Each has give and take, and neither side deals an accurate blow to the most effective combatants on the other side: Chris is pinned down by Mustafa, who can’t hit him, and is therefore unable to get the Butcher in his sights to save the Sheikh and his son. Later, Chris is able to make some headway when he kills the Butcher while Mustafa fails to get Chris in his sights. Later, Mustafa achieves a quasi-accurate blow against Biggles, which harms the SEALs but doesn’t cripple them enough. Lastly, while Mustafa picks off engineers, Chris sets up his gun in the wrong direction, costing him a life.

Overall Story Solution

Applying a Kill-Shot to Mustafa—In the end, Chris sets up his weapon in the right direction, aims it at Mustafa, and takes a sensationally accurate kill-shot.

Overall Story Symptom

Expecting to Prevent the Deaths of US Soldiers—US soldiers are picked off by enemy soldiers, bombers, and snipers, and the SEAL team expects to prevent more US soldier deaths. The real problem is the in-ability to kill high-profile enemy leaders, and not doing that allows the persistance of the insurgents killing US soldiers.

Overall Story Response

Determining That Preventing the Death of US Soldiers Is What Matters Most—“I’m not a quitter,” says Chris at the recruiters office. That phrase represents his and his team’s determination. Chris determines that preventing the death of US soldiers is that right thing to do, and refuses to give up on it.

Overall Story Catalyst

The Skill of the Sniper—The Sniper’s skill is what keeps the mission moving forward. Without his expert skill, the story stops moving forward; he would not be drawn into combat to proactively save the lives of soldiers.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Non-Military Desires Present in the Team—Marc Lee doesn’t think they are doing the right thing, consciously calling into question the ethics of what they do. Biggles distracts Chris with banter regarding his own fiance. Chris’ relentless desire to be the savior leaves his two friends dead.

Overall Story Benchmark

Intel on the Locations of the Butcher & Mustafa Is Provided—There is a growing concern with war-fighting when the US provides more game-changing intel on the Butcher & Mustafa.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

A team of US soldiers, called the Punishers, pursue US control over Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, and Sadr City. Led by legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, the team grows in effectiveness and successfully takes down two insurgent figureheads, the sniper Mustafa and the Butcher (one leader’s enforcer), but not without losing some of their own and part of themselves.—The sniper aims to protect as many US soldiers as he can by preemptively striking enemies preparing offense measures. He picks off enemy gunmen on day-to-day duty during his first deployment. Soon, tracks down an enemy enforcer name the Butcher but is neither to do anything about him nor save the man and child he kills due to an enemy sniper. Months later, the Butcher is located, and the sniper is deployed a second time to kill him. The sniper succeeds. During deployment three, the enemy sniper injures Biggles and insurgents kill Marc Lee. The sniper returns a fourth time to Iraq and kills the enemy sniper via an impressive mile-long shot.

Overall Story Backstory

With the expansion of international involvement over the last half century, the US has become a focus of hatred for specific people groups, especially around the turn of the century. Terrorism has been an act of protest to instill fear in the US. Eventually, tensions culminate with the attack on the World Trade Center in NYC, which incites a US invasion into the Middle East to hunt down groups affiliated with the act of terror and dictatorships committing similar crimes against humanity. This invasion is the beginning of the problem of the overall story.

Main Character Throughline

Chris Kyle — The Legend, the American Sniper

Main Character Throughline

Having PTSD—Chris Kyle is in turmoil, which began when he shot a child attacking marines. His memories are strong, and his instincts worsen.

Main Character Concern

Displaying Hyper-Arousal—Chris is always on edge. He closes off to his wife in the nursery and bedroom, ignoring her pleas. Conversely, he displays extreme edginess toward lawn mower noises, drills in the auto shop, and vehicles on the interstate; he even screams at a nurse he perceives to be ignoring his daughter.

Main Character Issue

Worrying about the Lives of All Soldiers—Chris’ self-worth is invested in how well he can protect. If he can’t protect, he feels worth little. As a boy he develops this sense in the context of defending his little brother on the playground from bullies; as a man he transfers it to defending SEALs and marines on the battlefield, which is the setting in which PTSD delivers blow after blow to his self-worth. In the end, he explains to the VA Doctor that he feels guilt about all the lives he couldn’t save.

Main Character Counterpoint

Chris’ worth is derived from what he believes has value. His strong, homespun values that lack room for gray, leaving him open to broad assumptions, including misinterpreting the value his father taught him as a child: “protect your own;” Chris confuses soldiers with family. Though initially helpful as a boy, his raw values prove to be in want of fleshing out.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Worry vs.Confidence

Chris is confident in his course of action. Yet, despite it, his worry for soldiers mounts with the rise in his confidence that he is doing the right thing.

Main Character Problem

Chris’ Less-Than-Accurate Treatment for His PTSD Is to Stoically Bear It—“I’m not a quitter,” Chris said at the recruiter’s office. And because he doesn’t want to quit the SEALs, he stoically takes his struggle for granted and accepts a way of life of quietly bearing on his own what is beyond his psychological tolerance; his PTSD symptoms worsen from blowing off his symptoms as no big deal to taking his time at a bar after his final deployment rather than rushing home to see his family.

Main Character Solution

Chris Accepts Accurate Treatment for His PTSD by Seeking Help from the VA—When Chris visits the VA doctor after his last deployment, he is reluctant. The doctor takes the attention off of him and encourages him to participate with disabled veterans. Chris quietly accepts an accurate a treatment for his PTSD. Also he makes a difference in the lives of soldiers; galvanizes his healing process.

Main Character Symptom

The PTSD That Results from Having Been Constantly in Combat—Chris is progressively on edge and uneasy. He develops PTSD. Though he doesn’t acknowledge it, his symptom is having PTSD and his real problem is how he’s dealing with having it.

Main Character Response

Chris Processes His PTSD without Help—Chris continually attempts to process his internal problems on his own.

Main Character Unique Ability

Having Near-Indomitable Self-Assurance—Chris is confident in his skills, ability, and purpose.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Feeling Threatened When He’s beyond Harm’s Reach—When he’s home, feels threatened by negligible things.

Main Character Benchmark

Chris’ Thoughts About Sniping Incidents Encroach on his Thinking—Chris’ downtown thinking is increasingly disrupted by anxious thoughts related to his job as a sniper.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

A strong, stubborn man with a black-and-white view of right and wrong. Chris is a skilled sniper who suffers from debilitating PTSD though he hides it well.  He snipes Iraqi insurgents, spend time with his wife, and puts up emotional walls.

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Chris Kyle, the sniper, begins to experience PTSD when he is forced to kill a little boy or let the little boy kill his soldiers. Chris takes the kill, and he’s not the same thereafter. Back stateside, he jumps at things like lawn mowers, has a high-heart rate, and displays denial. After his second deployment, Mads, a marine he once saved, approaches him and tells him how Chris is his hero. Chris is standoffish. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Chris visits the hospital and hears her crying. He asks a nurse to attend to her, but the nurse ignores him. Chris screams at her. At the end of his third deployment, Chris reflects on the death of Marc Lee, and he pays too much attention, in a PTSD way, to a non-threatening van on his way home from the funeral. Next, Chris is confronted with the reality of Biggles death. A second little boy down range picks up a bazooka, and Chris aims his weapon at the boy. But the boy chooses to drop the bazooka, and Chris chokes back his emotions. Following his last deployment, Chris avoids returning to his home, attacks a non-threatening dog at a birthday party, and visits the VA to talk about. Chris decides to help disabled veterans by spending his free time with them, and it’s therapeutic, assuaging some of his PTSD symptoms.

Main Character Backstory

Chris is a Texan who grew up in a traditional American Home with traditional American values.

Influence Character Throughline

Taya Kyle — Wife

Influence Character Throughline

Married to an Over-Involved SEAL—Taya, helplessly stuck watching her family deteriorate, is married to Chris. Her commitment to him is what keeps her close to him yet in dissension with him.

Influence Character Concern

Her Husband Changing into Someone She Doesn’t Know—Taya is concerned with her family unit changing for worse as her husband becomes more distant, begins to have their family by herself, and wonders how much further this can go before something breaks.

Influence Character Issue

Feeling Threatened by Chris, Taya Threatens Him Back—To feel secure against the choices her husband is making, Taya hints at threats and finally, in their bed, lays down an ultimatum.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Taya seeks emotional security amid the threats but is denied it by her husband.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Threat vs.Security

The security she seeks and what threatens her emanate from the same source: Chris.

Influence Character Problem

Believing That Chris Will Abandon His Commitment to the SEALs If She Pressures Him Enough—Taya has a hunch that her husband might listen and quit the SEALs each time he returns from a deployment.

Influence Character Solution

Theorizing That Chris Needs Her Support to Combat His PTSD—Throughout the entire story, Taya displays suspicion that is characteristic of having a theory: she suspects Chris needs help and tricks him into getting his heart rate measured. Her efforts culminate for the first time when she is with Chris in the end playfully pulling her into the shower with her clothes on and flirting in the kitchen.

Influence Character Symptom

Not Expecting Enough Focus on Family out of Chris—Taya believes that her problem is not making clear with Chris her expectations of him because Chris doesn’t listen to her when she asserts them. For instance, early on, after Chris’ first deployment in their bedroom when she’s pregnant, Taya hints at but doesn’t clearly layout that she expects Chris to be there for their new child.

Influence Character Response

Determining That Chris Should Leave the SEALs—In their home nursery after the birth of their second child, Taya is clearer (and stern) with Chris regarding his dismissal of the expectations she has for their family. Taya determines the best thing for her and their family is for Chris to quit the SEALs, and she insists.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Securing Herself and Her Children from Chris’ Absence—Taya is strong and stern in order to guard herself and her children from Chris’ absence as a husband and father. She fights for the patriarchal security of her family but is able to hold down the fort without it during Chris’ four deployments.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Feeling Overwhelmed with Anxiety about Her Husband—Since Taya is anxious, she unloads her worries (and fury) on Chris; this thwarts much of the progress she makes toward giving Chris the support that he needs.

Influence Character Benchmark

Being in a State of Helplessness—As the film progresses, Taya’s situation worsens. Her present state of helpless culminates in her and Chris’ bedroom before his fourth and final deployment. She doesn’t want him to go, so she gives him an ultimatum, which doesn’t work. Her final tactic isn’t enough, and Chris leaves her alone and helpless like he always does.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Taya Kyle is a pretty woman who is more sensitive than she comes across as. As Chris’ wife, she is driven by loyalty to him and their children. She comes across as stronger than she is and feels like she’s trapped in a helpless position between her husband’s conflict between family and country.

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Taya is a woman who can protect herself. But after she falls for Chris and marries him, she’s placed in a helpless situation. During Chris’ first deployment, when Chris drops the phone because of an ambush, Taya is left to believe that her husband is killed. She cares about Chris and the family they are making, but there is little she can do to bring them all together for very long. She takes care of the children all by herself. She is stuck to a man who isn’t there.

Influence Character Backstory

Taya has had history with SEALs dating her sister, and she is initially adverse to them.

Relationship Story Throughline

"An Over-Committed Navy SEAL & His Wife Who Stands Up To Him For Their Family"

Relationship Story Throughline

Quarreling over Family Priorities—Chris denies that his relationship with Taya is poor even though he consistently blows her off and prioritizes the US Military. Taya is aware their relationship is decaying and fights Chris, hoping to get him to prioritize his own family.

Relationship Story Concern

Chris Pretends Like the War Isn’t Affecting Them—Chris consistently asserts that he’s fine when it’s clear he’s avoiding the conversation. He pretends like his family will be all right if he continues to ignore the issue. Taya calls out Chris’ act as persistently as he pretends.

Relationship Story Issue

Desiring Different Directions for Their Family—Both Chris and Taya desire each other and to be a family, but Chris proves, by his actions, that he desires more to protect soldiers than her. Taya’s stake in the relationship is threatened by the prospect of losing Chris in combat, psychologically and physically, and Chris is threatened by Taya’s ultimatums to leave if he keeps accepting deployments.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Chris and Taya display great ability when they remain coupled throughout the course of Chris’ four deployments, his mounting PTSD, and Taya’s distress.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Desire vs.Ability

Chris’ desire to deploy blinds him from seeing his lack of familial ability and clashes with Taya’s desire for him to be with her and their children.

Relationship Story Problem

Testing the Other’s Loyalty to Military and Family—Chris and Taya consistently test one another’s commitment to one another by constantly setting up test the other inevitably fails: Chris tests Taya’s resolve by disregarding her requests and pleas to quit the SEALs; she doesn’t concede to his will. Taya believes the truest test of Chris’ love for her is for him to quit the SEALs; he refuses.

Relationship Story Solution

Trusting in the Importance of the Other’s Loyalty—They each begin to trust each other. Chris begins it all by trusting her that something is seriously wrong; he calls her on the phone and says he’s ready to come home. When Chris doesn’t come home right away and stops at a bar instead, the empathy, rather than fury, in Taya’s voice is characteristic of trust and understanding.

Relationship Story Symptom

The Other Person Having Too High of Expectations—Each believes that the other expects too much out of them. From Chris’ point-of-view, Taya expects Chris not to do all that he can to help save the lives of soldiers on the battlefield. From Taya’s point-of-view, Chris expects Taya to give up everything, including their family, so that he can go on this wild-goose-chase for glory.

Relationship Story Response

Asserting That Military or Family Deserves Chris—Chris has determined that soldiers need him more than Taya, and Taya fights back based on her belief that she and their children need him more. Based on what they’ve determined is right, Chris leaves for war four times, and Taya fights him progressively harder after the first three of those times.

Relationship Story Catalyst

Being Capable of Sticking Together through Hardship—Their feud is made possible only by their great strength to remain together in the face of the hardship they face. On his fourth deployment after Taya’s ultimatum, Chris chooses his family over the SEALs lest they be divided.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Experiencing Life Apart from One Another—Despite being a family, they are experiencing life apart because of the dissonance between their focuses and geographical location. Chris’ time on the battlefield is polar-opposite to the quiet yet strained home life Taya is being forced to live without him. As their time apart expands, so do the things they have in common grow apart.

Relationship Story Benchmark

Not Coming up with Ideas to Make Military and Family Compatible—In order to make their family work, they need to come up with an idea to make both of their desires compatible. However, they fail to come up with a proper solution and it pulls them apart. Therefore, Chris forfeits his place on the SEALs for the sake of their family. Yet there is life for those who die to self; Chris gives up his dream for his family yet is given it back in a different form: the VA.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Chris and Taya fall in love quickly and marry. But they quickly find themselves drifting apart since Chris doesn’t focus on their union. Taya and him are separate during her pregnancy. After his second tour and the arrival of their second child, it’s obvious Chris puts his and Taya’s relationship on the back burner to concentrate on the war. Taya insists on its grave importance of focusing on their union, but Chris blows her off to engage in deployment three. Before deployment four, Taya gives Chris a vague ultimatum. Chris disregards it, but amid a firefight during deployment four, Chris calls Taya and tells her he’s ready to put her first. When Chris returns, he and Taya grow closer, and they are better than their bond is stronger than when it started.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Protecting US Soldiers—Led by the sniper, the SEALs seek to proactively protect the lives US soldiers by engaging enemy fighters before they can land offensive strikes.

Overall Story Consequence

More Soldiers Will Be Dead Men—If the SEALS can’t provide safe cover for soldiers, living soldiers will be dead soldiers.

Overall Story Cost

The SEAL Team Loses Members—The SEAL team begins to change because members die; Marc Lee is shot, and Biggles dies in surgery.

Overall Story Dividend

The Experienced Response of the SEALs to Crises—The responses of the SEALs becomes more honed and experienced, causing them to be more effective as the stakes rise. Chris doesn’t trust the insurgent he dines, thereby locating a stash of weapons that leads them to their target.

Overall Story Requirements

Gathering Experience Fighting against & Gathering Info on the Iraqi Insurgents Killing US Soldiers—The SEALs determine the location of the enemy by gathering info from the enemy and gathering experience in combat with them. Chris acquires learning and experience, via holistic means, about how to find and take down the enemy.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Coming up with Targets—The US military conceives of the idea of infiltrating insurgent territory by doing house-to-house patrols, tracking down the Butcher, and killing the enemy sniper.

Overall Story Preconditions

The Present Jeopardy of US Soldiers—The US can gather info on the enemy and experience fighting the enemy but only in a battlefield that presents jeopardy to it’s strength and the lives of the soldiers seeking intel and experience.

Overall Story Forewarnings

Thinking They Are out of Harms Way—When the SEALs think they are in the clear and superior, they let down their guard and become targets. Chris and Marc Lee ride in the back of truck chitchatting when their driver is sniped by Mustafa. Chris and Biggles yuk it up when Biggles is wounded.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Gathering Info about the SEALS and Experience with Them to Fight—The Cowboy learns about terrorist strikes against US embassies, about the SEALs being the toughest career field in the Navy, and about what it takes to be a SEAL. He then becomes the Sniper. He, his wife, and the US learn of the attack on the World Trade Center.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Learning to Doing

The journey from education to preforming the job is made when the Sniper kills the bomb-toting little boy. See Driver: First Act Turn.

Overall Story Signpost 2

Sniping Iraqi Insurgents—The Sniper continues making enemy kills. He reports them to command. He also does his overwatch duties along with aiding marines in house-to-house, during which he interviews a local man whom he tries to protect from the Butcher but fails because of the Enemy Sniper. The SEALs patrol the local area. The Iraqi Insurgents strike against the US military.

Overall Story Journey 2 from Doing to Obtaining

The journey from doing to obtaining is made when the Sniper receives and accepts a second chance to get the Butcher. See Driver: Second Act Turn.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Losing Marc Lee & Biggles—The SEALs find the Butcher’s hideout. They bunker down at the home of a local rat and find his secret stash of weapons. The SEALs achieve access to the Butcher’s hideout but lose the cooperation of the local rat and the lives of some soldiers. Furthermore, they lose the face of the Sniper’s buddy, Biggles, and the life of his confidant, Marc Lee, while trying to get revenge. Lastly, on his fourth deployment, he’s one of the last SEALs left on his original team, having lost the best of its members to the Iraqi Insurgents.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Obtaining to Understanding

The journey from obtaining to understanding is made when the Sniper loses his second friend and the understanding begins to dawn on him that he’s not invincible and can do this forever. See Driver: Third Act Turn.

Overall Story Signpost 4

The Sniper Understanding That He Has Done Enough—The Sniper understands the enemy sniper along with his own physical and psychological limits. He understands that while he is capable of effectively killing his enemy from record-breaking distances, doing so doesn’t protect his men but endangers them. The Sniper understands that his skill doesn’t necessarily mean he’s effective at protecting his friends…or himself.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Chris Remembers the Key Points in His Life That Lead up to the Moment of His First Kill—Chris remembers the lessons he learned as a boy, the poor outcome with his ex, the challenges he faced in military training, and his relationship with Taya.

Main Character Journey 1 from Memory to Preconscious

Chris shoots the bomb-toting little boy.

Main Character Signpost 2

Chris Brings Home the First Signs of Hyper-Arousal—Chris’ impulsive responses are evidenced when he speaks about his first kill with Biggles, clears houses with marines against command, and acts jumpy when he returns home.

Main Character Journey 2 from Preconscious to Subconscious

Chris runs into his brother, Jeff, on the flight line. His brother is disturbed by what he’s seen in war.

Main Character Signpost 3

Chris Wants Vengeance against the Butcher & Mustafa for Killing Innocents & Friends—In this part, Chris is driven by revenge: first it’s against the Butcher for murdering the Sheikh and son, then it’s against the Iraqi Insurgents after Biggles is wounded. His desire for revenge culminates when it causes Marc Lee to die.

Main Character Journey 3 from Subconscious to Conscious

Chris finds out Biggles died.

Main Character Signpost 4

Emotionally, Chris Begins to Digest Everything, Break Down, and Consider Help—At the end of his deployments, Chris gestates his emotions. He is bottled up, wound tight, and in need of rest. He doesn’t come home immediately, he attacks a dog at a birthday party, and he seeks help at the VA. He’s processing what he thinks, and he can’t do it on his own. The VA helps him by placing him in place where he can help others. His story ends when he sits on his bed and looks at his boots, clearly reflecting on his past and his present.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

aya Is Independent & Single Yet Drawn to Chris—Taya visits the bar and shoos off Chris’ advances, but she opens up to the point where she is willing to get drunk enough to vomit.

influence Character Journey 1 from Present to Past

At their wedding reception, Taya gets the news that Chris will be deploying.

Influence Character Signpost 2

Taya Is Pregnant from Her and Chris’ Honeymoon—She talks with Chris about their honeymoon and mentions that Jeff deployed. She’s also concerned with what happened while Chris was gone. She is living with a baby they made earlier on their honeymoon.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Past to Progress

Taya gives birth to her firstborn.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Taya Changes from Reluctantly Distressed to Outspokenly Distraught—Taya changes from reluctance with Chris’ decision to remain in the SEALs to acute distress, concern, and demands. In their nursery, she scolds Chris for not being apart of their family.

Influence Character Journey 3 from Progress to Future

Taya receives the phone call from Chris that he’s ready to come home.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Taya Achieves the Reality She’s Been Looking Forward To—Taya is focused on the future of their family, and welcomes Chris back to be a part of it. Taya is kind though worried about Chris when he returns. Once she sees him get help, she feels like her family is finally together; she is fulfilled.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

Chris & Taya Conceive of Spending Their Life Together—Chris and Taya begin to bond and conceive of being a couple. When Taya tries to ward off Chris in the bar, Chris’ charm disarms her. From there they flesh out what it means for them to be together, and it leads to marriage.

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Conceiving to BeingThe reality of their relationship and the turning point set in when Chris and Taya are at their wedding reception and Chris gets the call to deploy.
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Chris and Tanya Play the Role of New Husband & Wife through Emotional & Physical Distance—Chris and Taya are continents apart but only a satellite phone call away. They connect emotionally when Taya talks about being pregnant and Chris predicts she’ll have a boy. Finally, when they are geographically reunited, Chris and Taya begin to experience emotional distance as Chris pulls away.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Being to Conceptualizing

After Chris’s deployment when he and Taya confront his outburst at the hospital.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

hey Each Contend for the Plan for Their Family That They Think Is Best: Chris Being a SEAL vs Not—Chris and Taya argue in order to get the other to agree with their plan for their family. After their son is born, Taya asserts that the plan is about them and not about soldiers. As it goes on, their daughter is born and Taya, in their home nursery, explains to Chris that when he isn’t absent, his mind is absent from their family; he needs to embrace their plan to be a family. Finally, on the way home from Marc Lee’s funeral, Taya expresses her concern for Chris’ life. But Chris explains that Marc Lee died because emotions got the better of his unit and they didn’t stick to the military plan. Chris asserts that his military plan is better than their family plan.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Conceptualizing to Becoming

Chris concedes to Taya’s request in the middle of a gunfight. It begins the dissolution of the building resentment between them.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

Changing from a Contentious Family Revolving around the Military to a Happy Family with an Ex-SEAL Patriarch—Taya argues with Chris over their family’s need for him to make a change with the military; their family is disintegrating. Chris asserts his opinion and Taya asserts that she can leave him if he deploys a fourth time. Chris deploys but calls her amid combat to give in to her. Finally, he returns home and they both reunite as Chris changes his nature in order to no longer be an absent husband and father.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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