I couldn’t sleep last night and got up about 4am and had a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. My head had been running with an idea for a few hours; I wanted to analyse the first episode of the second series of Last Tango in Halifax. You see, I didn’t know there had been a previous series so thought I was watching the beginning of something my friend had advised me to watch, and I was so impressed with the way it just leapt into the story and everything was illuminated. Innovative writing, I thought. Yes, that’s the way to start a story or a novel, and I said so to a writer friend on a forum thread and she informed me that I’d missed the whole of the first series! But, I don’t need to go dig them up and trawl through all those episodes to see what I’ve missed because the writers did such a good job at the beginning of the new series.

So, I watched it again in the early hours of this morning, scribbling notes, numbering scenes, going back and back until I got what I wanted. Later, I went through my notes and made the comments/descriptions more general, and here they are. I haven’t tried it out yet but plan on using it to shape the beginning of my new novel; it takes place on a long train journey in the first person and present tense – the comments below concerning flashes of memory are because of this.


  1. An announcement, the background and responses.
  2. A flash of memory and a wish.
  3. A different memory giving information.
  4. Dialogue about a past event.
  5. Conversation; someone voices a real worry.
  6. New scene taking the announcement forward.
  7. Awkward scene showing a character’s weakness.
  8. Flash of memory blaming someone for something.
  9. A phone call.
  10. A caring scene.
  11. Happy, friendly scene but with an underlying awkwardness.
  12. Confessions. A demand for food. Someone texting.
  13. Someone hiding info and pretending all is well.
  14. A private chat – two characters, one confession, one reaction.
  15. 3 people together, all on different wavelengths.
  16. A change of plan. A piece of news.
  17. A flash of memory and a question.
  18. 2 main characters talk.
  19. A walk to a favourite place, memories laughed over.
  20. An appointment is made and kept secret.
  21. Someone feels left out.
  22. 2 main characters laughing and chatting.
  23. A journey.
  24. Arrival – an explanation, an argument, information.
  25. A secret revealed and an old anger revived.
  26. Small nice scene.
  27. Another tale is told – quite a shock.
  28. Gossip overheard.
  29. Flash of memory and future projections.
  30. A bit of sneaking around, with humour.
  31. Someone is ashamed.
  32. A new day. Something else turns up.

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