Story Drivers

Story Drivers exist between Storybeats. While presented in the Objective Story Throughline view as equivalent to other Beats, a Story Driver depicts the relationship between the Beat that comes before it, and the Beat that comes after it.

Story Drivers are a component of the Objective Story Throughline. While the Author is free to make all kinds of associations between the shifting of an Act and other Throughlines, in the context of narrative structure, Story Drivers only hold meaning within the perspective of the Objective Story Throughline. Subtxt encourages this approach by limiting the appearance of Drivers to the Objective Story view.

Think of Story Drivers this way: the first one hits, and then the characters in your story scramble around to find a way to resolve this new problem. Eventually, they exhaust every alternative within that general area of concern and dramatic energy subsides—until the next Story Driver kicks in, pushing all your characters into the next general area of concern.

That’s all an Act is: grouped resolution techniques in service of resolving the greater conflict. Story Drivers are a signal from Author to Audience that it’s time to move on.

Story Drivers Missing in the Final Treatment

Theoretically, Story Drivers are not compatible with Storybeats as they are dynamics of narrative, not the structure of narrative. They define the relationship between the Transits, and thus wouldn't show up in a Treatment of structure composed entirely of Storybeats.

They're listed in the Objective Story Throughline view as a means of anchoring your plot around familiar "plot points" (First Act Turn, Midpoint, etc.). The Story Drivers in Subtxt also contain references to the Objective Story Problem as it often is the source of what drives a narrative from one Act to the next.

​After framing your Objective Story with the Story Drivers, take care to illustrate those plot points in either Transit or Progression--either at the very end, or at the very beginning depending on where the illustrations in the Driver fit best.

Typically, one will stand out as the perfect place for what you imagined in the Story Driver.

By taking this approach, the writer ensures a nice balance between the dynamics and structure of a narrative.

Types and Modalities of Story Drivers

There are two kinds of Story Drivers and two modes of operation: Action/Decision and Problem-Solving/Self-actualization.

In its simplest form, the Story Driver determines which comes first: the Action or the Decision. Your story is a series of actions followed by decisions followed by actions, and so on—decision, action, decision, action, until the very end. Stepping back, you will find that one precipitates the other.

In a story structured through Problem-Solving (Male Mental Sex), this leading Storybeat appears as the cause of subsequent effects. Actions force decisions, or Decisions force actions. In a story structured around Justification (Female Mental Sex), dramatic energy subsides as a factor of resistance. Actions engender the flow of decisions, or Decisions call forth a flow of actions.

Examples of Story Drivers in Male Mental Sex (Problem-Solving) Stories

Most Action films fall into that Genre because their Story Drivers are Actions that precipitate decisions. The BBQ-inq of Luke’s Aunt and Uncle in the first Star Wars drives the farm boy to decide to leave. No way he would have left without that Action. Same with poor Chrissie at the beginning of Jaws—without her unfortunate end, Brody would never have decided to close the beaches.

Courtroom Dramas often base their narrative structure on key Decisions. In A Few Good Men, Kaffee’s Decision to put Lt. Col. Markinson on the stand is what drives the Colonel to take his life. Henry Drummond asks to withdraw because he feels as if the case has already been Decided in Inherit the Wind. In both films, a jury’s Decision resolves the conflict.

Examples of Story Drivers in Female Mental Sex (Justification) Stories

Story Drivers seek to define the cause and effect between Storypoints. In a narrative structured by relationships and justification (Female Mental Sex), the concept of a "Driver" is less this leads to that, and more this flows into this.

As a consequence of this unique persepctive on inequity, the idea of an Initial Story Driver (or "inciting incident") fails to resonante in a meaningful and productive manner. Female Mental Sex rarely emphasize the start of things, because from that perspective nothing really starts or ends.

While the Midpoint Story Driver of The Matrix stands out clear as day (Cypher's Decision to live in unawareness), where the story starts is less apparent.

In Elf, Buddy’s over-enthusiastic Christmas makeover of Gimbels—and subsequent unmasking of a charlatan Santa—lands him in jail, but that's not where the story starts.

Same with Roma: Cleo’s pregnancy and subsequent abandonment by her boyfriend Fermín allows a tide of deliberation similar to that engendered by Sofía with the estrangement from her husband, Antonio, but seek to find what kicks it all off and you'll often end up short. Subsequent fires and run-ins with paramours, both chance and intentional, open up a flow of continued decisions that eventually shift into new concepts of themselves.

Starting and Ending Conflict

With the exception of the initial Driver and the Concluding Driver, Subtxt anchors Story Drivers into place at the end of each Act. This placement helps an Author communicate to the Audience the intention of moving on from one area of narrative exploration to the next.

Subtxt allows the Initial Story Driver and Concluding Story Driver to be woven around other Beats within the Storybeats section because Story Drivers tie themselves exclusively to the Objective Story Throughline perspective. Sometimes, the telling of a story starts and ends with the Objective Story Throughline. The original Star Wars begins with Vader’s illegal boarding of a diplomatic ship, and concludes with the destruction of the Death Star. In that example, the Initial Story Driver is the first Storybeat, and the Concluding Story Driver assumes the position of last Storybeat.

Other times, the telling of a story may call for an early termination of the Objective Story Throughline. Andy’s Decision to get busy living ends the Objective Story Throughline long before The Shawshank Redemption comes to an end. Red’s Main Character Throughline plays out over the next twenty minutes or so, and the last-minute addition of the reuniting scene on the beach wraps up the Relationship Story Throughline.

In that example, the Concluding Story Driver Beat occurs before the ensuing Main Character and Relationship Story Storybeats. Subtxt allows for this reality of relating a narrative by unlocking the positioning of the Initial and Concluding Story Drivers within their respective Acts.

Problem-Solving (Male Mental Sex) stories operate on a cause-and-effect basis. Justification stories (Female Mental Sex) serve narrative through flow-and-resistance.