Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for Unforgiven. 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.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

For eleven years William Munny has been a family man, relinquishing his hard-drinking, man-killing ways.  Financially desperate, he’s drawn back to killing for money and when his partner Ned’s killed, he hits the trigger and the bottle again.

Main Character Growth

Although Munny tells the Kid that he’s “not like that no more,” he must unfortunately disregard the wishes of his late wife and start using his meanness and killing skills if he’s to succeed and survive in this violent, lawless environment.

Main Character Approach

Munny has lost the hair-trigger response of his youth, preferring to work problems through peaceably: though taunted by Kid Schofield over his reputation, he lets it slide and tries again to solve the hog problem; provoked by Little Bill in the bar, Munny bides his time:
LITTLE BILL:  Well, Mister Hendershot, if I was to call you a no good sonofabitch an’ a liar, an’ if I was to say you shit in your pants on account of a cowardly soul… well, I guess then, you would show me your pistol right quick an’ shoot me dead, ain’t that so?
MUNNY:  I guess I might… but like I said, I ain’t armed.
(Peoples, p. 76)
After a kicking by Little Bill, Munny doesn’t even seek revenge; this doesn’t happen until Ned is killed.

Main Character Mental Sex

Munny uses cause and effect, linear reasoning.  Having trouble with animals, he figures that:
MUNNY:  Now this here horse is gettin’ even on me… hold on gal… for the sins of my youth… before I met… your dear-departed mother… I was weak an’ givin’ to mistreatin’ horses an’ such.  An’ this here horse… an’ that ole pig, too, I guess… is my comeuppance for my cruelty…
(Peoples, p. 21)
When he can’t hit a coffee can with the pistol, he switches to a shotgun; told that Little Bill caused Ned’s death, Munny eliminates him.

Story Driver

Quick Mike’s slashing of Delilah, and Little Bill’s mild punishment for this heinous action prompts Alice to offer a reward; Kid Schofield’s arrival and the dying of the hogs pushes Munny into pursuit of the reward; Munny’s killing Davey sets Little Bill on their trail; Little Bill’s torturing to death of Ned makes Munny come after him; etc.

Story Limit

After Munny and the Kid eliminate Davey and Quick Mike, Munny takes out the men in Greely’s bar until he’s sure there are none left as mean as he is, none left to harm the whores or to disrespect Ned’s body:
“Munny is still down on one knee pointing his pistol and looking through the thick smoke for someone to shoot but it seems there are no threats left.”
(Peoples, p. 124)

Story Outcome

Munny and the Kid succeed in killing Quick Mike and Davey, satisfying the whores’ appetite for revenge and “justice.”  They receive the reward money from Little Sue, which they split three ways to include Ned’s widow.

Story Judgment

While Munny succeeds in getting the money he needs to help raise his two children, it’s at great personal cost: the dark side of his nature that he’s suppressed for years has resurfaced.  He’s become a mean killer again, drinks hard liquor, and will surely be haunted by the faces of his new victims.

Overall Story Throughline

""Going After the Reward Money""

Overall Story Throughline

William Munny endeavors to provide for his two children in the face of poverty and sickness; the whores initiate a reward as a means to exact revenge on the slashers; Kid Schofield sets out on an enterprise to prove himself a tough guy; WW Beauchamp ventures out to experience the Wild West firsthand; etc.

Overall Story Concern

Strawberry Alice and the whores want Quick Mike and Davey’s lives taken as retribution for their crime; Munny, Ned, Schofield, and English Bob go after the reward money; Little Bill wants to prevent anyone earning the reward, and to control “his” town; Skinny wants payment for his damaged goods; WW Beauchamp, English Bob, and Little Bill seek fame.

Overall Story Issue

Quick Mike slashes Delilah because his pride’s hurt; Strawberry Alice and the whores demand justice for themselves; Skinny only cares about being a baron of billiards and getting repaid for his damaged goods; WW Beauchamp wants fame as an author; Kid Schofield, English Bob, and Little Bill seek self-aggrandizement; Munny wants to earn easy money for himself by killing others.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Strawberry Alice insists on revenge for Delilah and respect for all the whores; Davey brings his best pony to give to Delilah; Munny wants what’s best for his children; Both Ned and Munny insist on working together as partners or not at all; After killing, Kid Schofield comes to value another’s life more than his own selfish interests; Visited by ghosts from the past, Munny comes to regret taking their lives.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Self interest and morality are played out mainly through the three characters who venture out together to kill men for money: the inexperienced Kid wants to be a killer but regrets his actions when he really becomes one; former killer Ned acts as the moral conscience of the story, knowing how awful it is to take another’s life and refusing to do it again; though Munny feels guilty about killing, he does it once for the money and again for personal revenge when Ned dies for Munny’s sins.

Overall Story Problem

To pursue the reward money, Munny and his partners and English Bob must track it to its source, the whores working in Big Whiskey.  There they meet their biggest obstacle in Little Bill, who prohibits guns and tortures gunslingers while protecting the men with a price on their head.

Overall Story Solution

Skinny the pimp suggests to Little Bill how trouble with those pursuing the reward money might be avoided:
SKINNY:  (hopeful)  You could run off them two cowboys.
LITTLE BILL:  (sharply)  I could run off them whores.
SKINNY:  (after a pause)  Well, I guess they’ll just up an’ run anyhow, them two.
LITTLE BILL:  (glumly)  Nope.  They’ll stay out on the Spade country where they got friends.
(Peoples, p. 25)

Overall Story Symptom

When Delilah laughs at his “teensy little pecker,” Quick Mike lashes out and slashes her face; The whores respond to Davey’s offer of a pony for Delilah with a frenzy of mudslinging; The shortsighted Schofield Kid reacts to danger by shooting aimlessly in all directions; The townsfolk Little Bill tries to organize into a posse are focused on getting their expenses paid rather than tracking criminals; etc.

Overall Story Response

Little Bill tightly regulates who can carry a gun in Big Whiskey, and treats transgressors with methodical torture; Skinny keeps a tight rein on his whores, treating them no better than horses; Munny and Kid Schofield organize a plan of attack for ambushing Quick Mike at the outhouse; Munny terrorizes the surviving townsfolk into doing what he says; etc.

Overall Story Catalyst

Little Bill demands that Quick Mike and Davey “pony up” in payment for their crime, in order to spare more bloodshed; Alice and the other whores pool their savings to fund a reward and get street justice for Delilah’s attackers; Munny sets out after the reward money to give his children a better life; Hearing of the disrespect afforded the dead Ned, Munny goes after his assailants; etc.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Munny’s devotion to the memory of his wife almost prevents him from pursuing the reward; Ned’s insistence that “we ain’t bad men no more” prevents him from shooting Davey, almost letting him escape; Little Bill’s zeal in making an example of English Bob makes the whores despair that:
ALICE:  Nobody’s gonna come.  [...]  After what Little Bill done to the Englishman.
(Peoples, p. 70)

Overall Story Benchmark

When Alice understands that Quick Mike and Davey will go unpunished by Little Bill for slashing a whore, she starts the story rolling with an offer for a reward; the violence-shy Munny tries to make the Kid understand he “ain’t like that any more”; When Ned’s wife sees Munny’s shotgun on his horse, she understands there’s grief ahead; Aiming at Davey, Ned appreciates just how difficult it is to kill a man—as does WW while pointing a pistol at Little Bill; After a near-death beating, Munny realizes what death feels like and empathizes with the thirsty Davey; Kid Schofield kills for the first and last time, comprehending the hard way what it feels like to take a man’s life.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

“William Munny was once, we learn, a gunfighter, and not a very nice one. He killed not simply bad guys, but also women and children, and he doesn’t feel very good about that. Now he is trying to support his motherless family by working as a hog farmer, and when the word comes of a $1,000 bounty on the heads of two cowboys who have carved up a prostitute, he accepts the challenge. He needs the money, and perhaps he is attracted to his old ways.
The prostitute was attacked in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a town ruled by Little Bill Daggett, a sheriff who mirrors Munny’s own ambiguity about violence and domesticity. Daggett does not permit firearms in his town, and tries to settle disputes peaceably. In adjudicating the brawl at the brothel, for example, he orders the two cowboys to give the saloon owner a couple of horses, in lieu of damages. This is justice of a sort, although not, of course, for the scarred young prostitute, who is treated like so much property. An older hooker is enraged, and raises the money for the bounty on the cowboys.  [...]
Munny is told about the bounty in the first place by a kid (all Westerns seem to have a kid) named, inevitably, the Schofield Kid. He’s too nearsighted to shoot straight, and knows he needs help. Munny in turn recruits an old partner, Ned Logan, and they ride into Big Whiskey, only to discover that another famous gunfighter, English Bob, has also arrived on the scene.
English Bob is trailed by a writer for pulp Western magazines, who interviews the sheriff on his theories about killing, and does research for his report on the impending showdown. [...]
UNFORGIVEN is not simply about its plot—about whether William Munny collects the bounty, and about who gets killed in the process—but also about what it means to kill somebody, and how a society is affected when people get killed.  [...]”
(Roger Ebert, in Cinemania)

Overall Story Backstory

An outbreak of smallpox swept the country, killing Munny’s wife Claudia—who tamed his whiskey-drinking, gunslinging ways—and leaving him to raise two children on a hardscrabble farm where the pigs are now sick:
MUNNY:  Now this here horse is gettin’ even on me… hold on gal… for the sins of my youth… before I met… your dear-departed mother… I was weak an’ givin’ to mistreatin’ horses an’ such.  An’ this here horse… an’ that ole pig, too, I guess… is my comeuppance for my cruelty…
(Peoples, p. 21)
The temptation to return to those old ways comes to visit Munny in the form of Kid Schofield, offering easy money as a reward for killing men who cruelly mistreated a whore.

Main Character Throughline

William Munny — Rootin', tootin', sonofabitchin', cold-blooded assassin

Main Character Throughline

Even though he hasn’t shot a gun at a man in eleven years and he “ain’t a bad man any more,” Munny still believes that killing two cowboys for money will be easy.

Main Character Concern

Despite having taken eleven years off, Munny has to struggle with the fact that at his central core, what he’s really good at is the killing of other men.

Main Character Issue

Munny decided to stop drinking, whoring, and killing when he married, but now his wife’s influence has ended; Killing Quick Mike and Davey brings Munny’s endeavor to an end and nets him the reward money.

Main Character Counterpoint

Killing the two cowboys is not enough for Munny now he’s a killer again, and he can’t rest until he avenges Ned’s death.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Closure vs.Denial

Munny doesn’t know when to stop killing once he’s started.  After finishing off the two cowboys for the reward, he goes on to kill the unarmed Skinny and four others singlehandedly, getting back into the vicious cycle of killing he’s stayed away from for so long.

Main Character Problem

Failing at farming, Munny is driven to pursue the reward money for his children’s survival; Angered at the disrespectful treatment of his friend Ned, Munny goes after those who mistreated him with a vengeance.

Main Character Solution

While his wife was alive, Munny avoided getting into violent conflicts; He stays away from Ned’s whiskey, knowing drinking fueled his meanness in the past; If he steered clear of Big Whiskey, he’d avoid seeing Ned’s body and wouldn’t start his killing ways again.

Main Character Symptom

Initially, Munny tells the Kid he’s been cured of his wicked ways and rejects his offer of partnership—then, troubled by the ornery sick pigs, he reconsiders and saddles up; Munny insists killing the two cowboys will be easy—until haunting images of his victims and wife cause him to reconsider, and actually fear death.

Main Character Response

Driven to reconsider the Kid’s usefulness after learning he can only see fifty yards, Munny considers that “Fifty yards ain’t bad.”; Forced to reconsider his killing mission by Little Bill’s savage beating, Munny considers his own mortality and fear of death.

Main Character Unique Ability

To reach the goal, Munny convinces himself, but not Ned, that killing the two cowboys should be easy—which is highly unlikely, as he’s sworn off the liquor he previously employed to make killing easier.

Main Character Critical Flaw

Munny’s return to the saddle after a delay of eleven years makes him and the horse he rode in on unaccustomed to each other; Munny’s prolonged refusal to give up his gun to Little Bill earns him a near-fatal kicking; Suspending his shooting for so long has turned him into a poor marksman, almost letting Davey escape; Munny’s hanging around the bar for a drink almost gets him shot by the wounded Little Bill.

Main Character Benchmark

Munny’s memories of killing intrude on his present thinking more and more as he approaches the men he’s to kill: Considering the reward money, he reminisces over his wife’s photo and gravestone and how she cured him of wickedness; As he leaves, he remembers mistreating animals and suspects his horse and pigs are getting even with him; Traveling with Ned, he recalls shooting a man’s teeth through the back of his head, for no reason—and how everybody feared him and nobody liked him because of his meanness; Arriving in Big Whiskey, he sees a vision of his victim Hendershot, complete with worms.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

“The hog in the mud, snorting and squealing, ugly as hell and BILL MUNNY in the mud with him, pushing and shoving [...]  Munny is thirty-five or forty years old, his hair is thinning and his mustache droops glumly over his stubbled jaw.  If it were not for his eyes he would look like any pig farmer with his canvas overalls tucked in his boots pushing on a hog.”
(Peoples, p. 10)

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

A struggling farmer, Munny is lured out of retirement by the promise of easy money for a quick double killing of two cruel men.  Despite his buddy Ned’s argument to the contrary, he believes he can shoot two men dead then return to his farm and children as if nothing had happened.  As he gets closer to his intended victims, images of his former victims haunt him.  A vicious beating by the sheriff doesn’t deter him, and he succeeds in earning the reward money.  But the humiliation Ned suffers at the sheriff’s hands launches Munny into the frenzy of mean, vengeful killing that was lurking inside him waiting for release.

Main Character Backstory

“Words begin to crawl across the screen:
Of good family, albeit one of modest means, she was a comely young woman and not without prospects.  Therefore it was at once heartbreaking and astonishing to her mother that she would enter into marriage with William Munny, a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition.  They were married in St. Louis in 1870 and they traveled North to Kansas where he engaged in farming and swine husbandry.  She bore him two children in the eight years of their marriage and when she died, it was not at his hands as her mother might have expected, but of smallpox.  That was in 1878.”
(Peoples, p. 1-2)

Influence Character Throughline

Ned Logan — Munny's longtime friend

Influence Character Throughline

Unlike Munny, Ned has adapted to the peaceful life of farming very well, to the point where he doesn’t need the reward money.  He’s not the bad man he used to be, and tries to convince Munny that he’s not either.

Influence Character Concern

Ned finds he’s no longer able to deprive other men of their future—by killing them—and parts with Munny to seek other prospects in Kansas.

Influence Character Issue

At first protesting that he and Munny “ain’t bad men no more,” Ned re-evaluates and decides that “they got it comin’...” when told of the slashers’ brutality to their victim; When it’s time to pull the trigger, Ned re-evaluates killing as a way to make money and decides against it.

Influence Character Counterpoint

Ned tries to shake Munny’s stubborn confidence about killing:
MUNNY:  We done stuff for money before, Ned.
NED:  Well, we—thought—we was doin’ it for money.
(Peoples, p. 27)
Ned’s instant dislike of the Kid based on his bad shooting proves justified later when it turns out the Kid lied about his eyesight and his killing prowess.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Openness vs.Preconception

At first against killing, Ned re-evaluates and goes for it, only to re-evaluate again at the moment of truth and give up on the goal, his prejudice against killing triumphing finally.

Influence Character Problem

Ned partners up with Munny to lend him (im)moral support in pursuit of Quick Mike and Davey, leading Ned back to killing; Ned stitches Munny’s wounds and helps him get back to a state of battle-readiness; Ned offers his Spencer rifle to Munny, to help him with killing Quick Mike.

Influence Character Solution

Ned could help Munny be a better farmer and so undermine the need to go after the reward; At the moment of truth, Ned (the only good shot among the three, with the best rifle) hinders the mission by refusing to shoot Davey; He makes it difficult for Munny to get Quick Mike by refusing to come along, and quitting.

Influence Character Symptom

Unable to regulate his lust, Ned goes to get a “free one,” leaving Munny alone to face Little Bill and his men; Losing control of his aim, Ned “is sweating, his hand is shaking” and he can’t pull the trigger on Davey—leaving Munny to do the killing; His mind wandering under Little Bill’s torture, Ned can’t remember the lies he told and eventually gives up Munny’s identity.

Influence Character Response

Ned tries to convince Munny that “you ain’t like that no more” to stop him from killing; Ned focuses Munny’s attention on how difficult the killing’s going to be; Ned tries to control the information about Munny that Little Bill extracts from him through torture.

Influence Character Unique Ability

Realizing Munny will go after the reward without him anyway, Ned decides to come along and act as an ever-present reminder to Munny of how they’ve changed their ways; Ned’s decision not to kill and to go home makes it harder on Munny, but not enough to prevent him from killing.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Ned’s hope that Munny shares his guilt enough to also prevent him from killing Davey is unfounded; Ned’s hopes of returning home peacefully are shattered by Little Bill, causing Munny to become a mean, cold-blooded killer again for revenge.

Influence Character Benchmark

As they get nearer their victims, Ned and Munny’s former killing activities come to the surface: Ned’s initially reluctant:
NED:  Easy, huh?  Hell, I don’t know that it was all that easy then… an’ we was young an’ full of beans.  [...]
MUNNY:  We done stuff for money before, Ned.
NED:  Well, we thought we was doing it for money.
(Peoples, p. 27)
Later, Ned liquors up to try to forget their past:
MUNNY:  You… you remember Eagle Hendershot?  [...]  I seen him.  [...]  His head was all busted open so’s you could see the inside.
NED:  Jesus, Bill, you got fever.  Take a drink, will you?
(Peoples, p. 75)
Tortured by Little Bill, Ned threatens him with Munny’s reputation in an attempt to save his skin:
LITTLE SUE:  An’ Ned says you done a lot worse than that, said you was more cold blooded than William Bonney or Clay Allison or the James Brothers an’ how if he hurt Ned again you was gonna come an’ kill him like you killed a U.S. Marshall in ‘73.
(Peoples, p. 118)

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

“NED LOGAN, who is working not far away [...]  Ned is about forty, balding, a farmer, but not as seedy looking as his old friend, Bill Munny.”
(Peoples, p. 26)

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

A successful farmer, Ned comes out of retirement to relive his glory days with Munny.  He distrusts the brash young tough guy Kid Schofield, who claims to relish killing.  Ned believes he’s not the killer he used to be, and proves it by failing to shoot Davey.  Unable to dissuade Munny, Ned heads for home but is captured and tortured by the sheriff.  Under pressure, he gives up Munny’s identity, but also warns of the consequences from Munny should he, Ned, be killed.  Which he is.

Influence Character Backstory

NED:  (earnestly)  We ain’t bad men no more, Bill.  Hell, we’re farmers.
MUNNY:  (thoughtfully)  Should be easy killin’ em… supposin’ they don’t run off to Texas first.
NED:  (taking the pot from the stove)  How long since you shot a gun at a man?  (pause)  Nine… ten years?
MUNNY:  Eleven.
NED:  Easy, huh?  Hell, I don’t know that it was all that easy then… an’ we was young an’ full of beans.  (pouring coffee)  Bill… if you was mad at ‘em… if they done you wrong… I could see shootin’ ‘em…
MUNNY:  (looking Ned in the eye)  We done stuff before for money, Ned.
NED:  (sitting down)  Well, we thought we was doin’ it for money…
(Peoples, p. 27)

Relationship Story Throughline

""You Ain't Like That No More""

Relationship Story Throughline

William Munny and Ned Logan share conflicting viewpoints over whether they’re still able to kill a man:
NED:  (earnestly)  We ain’t bad men no more, Bill.  Hell, we’re farmers.
MUNNY:  (thoughtfully)  Should be easy killin’ em… supposin’ they don’t run off to Texas first.
(Peoples, p. 27)

Relationship Story Concern

To collect their share of the reward money, Munny and Ned must become killers again and cold-bloodedly shoot Quick Mike and Davey.  At the moment of truth, Ned’s unable to pull the trigger and Munny steps in and finishes the job.  Munny’s transformation into a mean killer is complete once he learns of Ned’s killing and goes after those responsible.

Relationship Story Issue

Against his better judgment, Ned allows his dedication to his old partner Munny to pull him back into killing for money; Munny refuses to become the Kid’s partner unless Ned’s included too; Munny’s devotion to his friend brings out the ruthlessness in him necessary to avenge Ned’s death.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

While Ned can “hit a bird in the eye flyin’,” he’s no longer suited to killing men, letting the meaner killer Munny take over; Ned can’t take any more killing, and leaves Munny to get Quick Mike with the more eager Kid’s help; Munny realizes he’s the only man mean enough to avenge Ned’s death, and takes the Kid’s superior gun with which to do it.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

Ned’s lack of suitability for killing overwhelms the dedication he feels toward Munny, and he leaves Munny to do the killing.  Munny carries through to the bitter end for the reward money, and it is his commitment to Ned that makes him go after his partner’s tormentors.

Relationship Story Problem

Ned’s reluctant to join Munny in killing again because he believes they “ain’t bad men no more.”  Munny’s equally convinced that it “Should be easy killin’ em…” until Ned prods his conscience:
“NED:  But you wouldn’t go if Claudia was alive.
It hits Munny like salt on a wound and he just takes it.  They both know Ned is right and they think about it silently.”
(Peoples, p. 28)

Relationship Story Solution

Embracing the idea of reliving his exciting youth with Munny, and tempted by easy money, Ned decides to go for it:
“NED:  This Kid, what’s he like?
Munny turns and looks at Ned and their eyes meet and Munny realizes Ned is coming.
NED:  Three ways?”
(Peoples, p. 28)

Relationship Story Symptom

Ned’s losing focus on the goal by going to the back room for a whore causes problems for Munny by leaving him vulnerable to Little Bill’s sadism; Ned’s losing control while trying to shoot Davey causes Munny to take over the task; Ned’s inability to keep his lies straight while being tortured leads him to give away Munny’s true identity to Little Bill.

Relationship Story Response

Left alone by Ned, Munny responds with restraint to Little Bill’s taunting and torture; Munny takes over Davey’s killing, concentrating on how many bullets are left in Ned’s rifle; When he hears Ned gave him away but Little Bill wasn’t scared, Munny directs his attention toward killing the men responsible for Ned’s humiliation and subsequent death.

Relationship Story Catalyst

Standing up against the Kid, Munny insists Ned gets an equal share due to his suitability for the mission:
MUNNY:  Now Ned’s a hell of a shot with a rifle.  Hell, he can hit a bird in the eye flyin’.
(Peoples, p. 52)
When the Kid wants to do the killing without waiting for the injured Munny to recover, Ned insists that’s not appropriate:
NED:  (a sharp look at The Kid)  I don’t kill nobody without him.  (indicating Munny)
(Peoples, p. 82)
When Ned can’t kill Davey, Munny realizes he’s the man for the job:
“Munny grabs the rifle and Ned moves aside and slumps against a rock and Munny looks down the barrel and aims.”
(Peoples, p. 93)

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Ned tries to talk Munny out of killing Quick Mike and Davey because there’s no personal interest:
NED:  Bill… if you was mad at ‘em… if they done you wrong… I could see you shootin’ ‘em…
(Peoples, p. 27)
Ned’s decision to indulge himself with a whore leaves Munny alone to be tortured by Little Bill, and Ned saves his own skin by jumping out the window rather than back up his partner.

Relationship Story Benchmark

At the start of Munny and Ned’s relationship, Ned’s wife sees something that sparks her imagination:
“Her sharp eyes don’t miss the stock of the shotgun where it protrudes slightly from the bedroll.  Her eyes seem to see into the future… and all they see is trouble.”
(Peoples, p. 26)
Ned and Munny swap graphic visualizations as to how the reward money was prompted:
NED:  What’d they do anyhow?  Cheat at cards, steal some strays, spit on a rich fella?
MUNNY:  Cut up a woman.  Cut her eyes out, cut her tits off, cut her fingers off… done everythin’ but cut up her cunny, I guess.
(Peoples, p. 28)
Bonding man-to-man about sex, Ned tries to envision how Munny manages without a wife:
NED:  Whaddaya do, just use your hand?
(Peoples, p. 48)
Ned offers Munny some of his whiskey, which he “brung for when we had to kill them fellows,” but Munny won’t admit he needs it; the whore delivering the reward money tells Munny about the future Ned envisioned for Little Bill:
LITTLE SUE:  [...] how if he hurt Ned again you was gonna come an’ kill him like you killed a U.S. Marshall in ‘73.
(Peoples, p. 118)

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Ex-killers and partners Ned and Munny team up again to kill for money, justifying their actions with the exaggerated claim that:
THE KID:  They cut up a lady.  They cut up her face an’ cut her eyes out, cut her ears off an’ her tits too.
(Peoples, p. 13)
The reluctant Ned tries to convince Munny that killing again won’t be easy, because they’re not bad men anymore.  Munny keeps his promise to his late wife to avoid drinking and whoring, but the reward money’s enough to make him kill again.  Ned finds he can’t kill again, and leaves it to Munny.  Ned’s subsequent death by torture is reason enough for Munny to sink back into his mean killing ways, and hit the bottle as well.

Relationship Story Backstory

Munny and Ned go back a long way, to the “good old days”:
“MUNNY:  Remember that drover, the one I shot in the mouth so’s the teeth come out the back of his head?  I dream about him now an’ again.  I didn’t have no reason to shoot him… not one I could remember when I sobered up.
NED:  You was a… crazy sonofabitch.
MUNNY:  Nobody liked me… none of the boys.  They was scared of me… figured I might shoot ‘em out of pure meanness.
NED:  You ain’t like that no more.
MUNNY:  Hell, no.  I’m just a fella now.  Ain’t no different from anyone else no more.
After a pause, Ned rolls over to go to sleep and say something kind by way of saying goodnight.
NED:  Hell, Bill.  I always liked you… even back then.
Ned settles in his covers and so does Munny and the crickets chirp for a long moment but Munny can’t sleep with the lie.
MUNNY:  No you didn’t.  You wasn’t no different, Ned.”
(Peoples, p. 31-2)

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Everyone in Big Whiskey’s concerned with obtaining the reward money:  The whores offer it for killing Quick Mike and Davey, who’d rather it wasn’t paid; Skinny and Little Bill want to avoid its payment and keep business as usual; Munny, Ned, and Kid Schofield set out to split it three ways; English Bob wants it for himself, while WW Beauchamp wants to document how it’s earned.

Overall Story Consequence

If Quick Mike and Davey and the others weren’t killed, the whores of Big Whiskey would become victims with no self-determination and no expectation of justice, subject to the whims of cruel men like Little Bill and Skinny.

Overall Story Cost

Seeking a future as a wealthier man, English Bob suffers humiliation and a beating; in death, Ned, Little Bill, Skinny, Quick Mike and Davey have no future; Kid Schofield must spend the rest of his life knowing he killed a man; Munny must face the fact that he was and always will be a killer of men; their funds depleted, the whores must start saving again for the next rainy day in Big Whiskey.

Overall Story Dividend

By slashing Delilah’s face, Quick Mike feels appeased for the insult to his very manhood; the whores’ deeply-felt need for respect and justice is satisfied by the vengeful killings; Skinny the would-be “billiards baron” is repaid in ponies for the destruction of one of his most valuable “assets”; Ned and Kid Schofield take advantage of “free ones” to feed their lust; the Kid satisfies his drive to become a tough-guy killer; Munny gets the money he needs to give his children a better life.

Overall Story Requirements

WW Beauchamp by observing, and Munny, Ned, and the Kid by doing, understand exactly what it means to take another man’s life before they can collect the reward money.  As Munny eloquently puts it:
MUNNY:  It’s a hell of a thing, ain’t it, killin’ a man.  You take everythin’ he’s got… an’ everythin’ he’s ever gonna have…
(Peoples, p. 114)

Overall Story Prerequisites

The whores envision that pooling their savings is the best plan to attract a professional killer and get revenge; with Munny sick, The Kid plans how he and Ned will do the job:
THE KID:  I can’t spot ‘em myself but you could.  That red-haired one, you could spot a half-mile off, I bet.
NED:  An’ if I spot ‘em?
THE KID:  I’ll ride up close an’ shoot ‘em!
(Peoples, p. 86)
Instead, Ned and the Kid go scouting at the Bar T ranch to figure out a way to kill the two cowboys, and to implement an ambush on Davey; Munny visualizes where Quick Mike will be:
MUNNY:  I’ll bet anything he won’t go to town nor he won’t ride out on the range.  Right off he’ll hole up at the ranch.
(Peoples, p. 100)

Overall Story Preconditions

Munny’s previous killing victims—and also his wife and the angel of death—insist on visiting him in the form of visions while on the way to the killing zone; Ned needs to drink whiskey to forget what killing’s like, just as he did in the old days; the Kid invents a past as a five-time killer to convince the others and himself he’s up to the killing.

Overall Story Forewarnings

After recalling the true story of Two-gun Corcoran’s killing, Little Bill offers his gun to WW:
LITTLE BILL:  All you gotta do is shoot me an’ you an’ English Bob can ride out free as birds.
But WW can’t pull the trigger, and English Bob is driven out of town—foreshadowing the difficulty Munny will have with his partner in killing, Ned, with the likelihood of a similar outcome.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Strawberry Alice and the other whores understand that they’ll get no justice from Little Bill, and initiate a reward; Munny resists Kid Schofield’s offer to partner up, trying to make him understand that “I ain’t like that anymore.”

Overall Story Journey 1 from Understanding to Learning

Frustrated that his wife’s not around to advise him, Munny teams up with Ned and they’re mistakenly shot at by the Kid.  Little Bill teaches English Bob and WW his gun control policy.

Overall Story Signpost 2

Ned and Munny learn why the Kid needs a partner—he “can’t see worth a shit”; WW Beauchamp learns how difficult it is to shoot a man when he can’t pull the trigger on Little Bill.

Overall Story Journey 2 from Learning to Doing

Disappointed that they wouldn’t take a shot at him, Little Bill kicks English Bob out of town and retains WW’s services.  Ned and the Kid take up drinking and whoring again.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Little Bill tells his hyped-up life story to WW, who tries to dodge water leaks from the roof; Kid Schofield and Ned indulge themselves with a few free ones with the whores, while Little Bill kicks Munny into the street, literally.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Doing to Obtaining

Ned nurses a death-fearing Munny back to health, but is unable to perform the killing of Davey.  Munny and the Kid kill Quick Mike and Davey and get the reward, while Little Bill takes Ned’s life.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Munny exacts revenge on Little Bill, Skinny, et al—those who’ve wronged him and Ned—by taking their lives; WW tries to get the chronology of the shootings straight for the record.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Looking at her photo and her gravestone, Munny contemplates how his wife would feel about him going killing again.

Main Character Journey 1 from Conscious to Memory

Realizing his horse and marksmanship seem to be working against him, Munny recruits his friend Ned and reminds him:
MUNNY:  We done stuff for money before, Ned.
(Peoples, p. 27)

Main Character Signpost 2

Munny remembers a drover he killed for no reason, and how none of his buddies liked him on account of his meanness.

Main Character Journey 2 from Memory to Preconscious

Munny relates how the memory of his late wife keeps him from liquor and whoring:
MUNNY:  Claudia, God rest her soul, she wouldn’t have wanted me doin’ nothin’ like that, me bein’ a father, an’ all.
(Peoples, p. 48)
His initial response to Ned’s offer of “gettin’ an advance offa them sporting ladies” is to “stare vacantly at the whiskey bottle.”

Main Character Signpost 3

Munny’s instinctive response to Little Bill’s demanding he turn his gun over is to deny he’s carrying one, even though:
LITTLE BILL:  [...] if I was to call you a no good sonofabitch an’ a liar, an’ if I was to say you shit in your pants on account of a cowardly soul… well, I guess then, you would show me your pistol right quick an’ shoot me dead, ain’t that so?
(Peoples, p. 76)

Main Character Journey 3 from Preconscious to Subconscious

Though beaten half to death, Munny’s reaction is stoicism and reflection on killing.  Taking Davey’s and Quick Mike’s lives satisfies his drive for money, but his true nature emerges with news of his friend’s death.

Main Character Signpost 4

When Munny hears that Ned’s “got a sign on him in front of Greely’s,” the cold-blooded killer that’s at the core of his being surfaces, and he kills five men singlehandedly.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Approached by Munny to go killing, Ned reminds him how long it’s been since they shot a man, and what it was like:
NED:  Hell, I don’t know that it was all that easy then… an’ we was young an’ full of beans.
(Peoples, p. 27)

influence Character Journey 1 from Past to Progress

Worried about Munny’s feelings of self-loathing, Ned tells him how he liked him even back when he was mean.  Ned succeeds in bringing out the good side of Munny when Munny insists on Ned being an equal partner.

Influence Character Signpost 2

Ned shows Munny that things aren’t going as well as they expected with his revelation of the Kid’s shortsightedness; As they get closer to Big Whiskey, Ned starts drinking to bolster his courage.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Progress to Future

Relieved to escape Greely’s unharmed, Ned sets up a meeting with the whores.  He stitches Munny up, getting him fit for the difficult work ahead.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Faced with ending young Davey’s future, Ned can’t bring himself to shoot another man; Ned quits the mission and promises to look in on Munny’s kids in the future.

Influence Character Journey 3 from Future to Present

A distraught Ned offers his Spencer rifle to Munny as he won’t be using it anymore, then is captured by the Bar T boys.  Little Bill tortures him to death and puts him on display as an ever-present reminder to other would-be assassins.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Though Ned tried to dissuade Munny from killing while he was alive, now that he’s dead—a “body in the upright coffin in the flickering light of a torch standing next to it and, of course, Ned looks bad and the crudely scrawled sign over the coffin says “This is what happens to assassins around here.”—the sight of him changes Munny back into a cold-blooded killer.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

When Ned’s wife sees Munny’s shotgun tucked in his saddle, she envisions there’s killing to be done; Ned visualizes splitting the reward, and why Munny needs him:
NED:  Three ways?
MUNNY:  Yup.  You still got the Spencer rifle?
NED:  Yeah, an’ I could still hit a bird in the eye flyin’.
(Peoples, p. 29)

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Conceptualizing to BeingWhen Munny's disturbed by the vision of the drover he shot and by how mean he used to be, Ned tries to comfort him by pretending that he always liked him.
Relationship Story Signpost 2

When Munny acts like he won’t go killing without Ned, the Kid accepts the new partner; Ned pretends there’s a hawk overhead to expose the Kid’s lack of vision and show Munny what kind of partner they’ve got.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Being to Conceiving

Responding to the Kid’s probing, an uncomfortable Munny pretends not to recollect how many men he’s killed.  Ned doesn’t like the question either, getting the idea that liquor will help:
NED:  I brung this for when we had to kill those fellows.  I guess we could use it now.
(Peoples, p. 67)

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Ned suggests that Munny take a drink to quell his fever, and comes up with the idea of Munny and him taking an advance from the whores.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Conceiving to Becoming

A fearful Munny gets the idea he’s dying, but rejects Delilah’s offer of a free one, like the ones his partner’s been getting.  When Ned can’t shoot Davey, Munny takes over his rifle and becomes a killer again.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

When Munny finds that Little Bill’s killed Ned and transformed his corpse into a warning—complete with a sign—he becomes the killer he used to be and goes after Little Bill.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


Dramatica Story Expert

the next chapter in story development

Buy Now