Working with Storybeats

While presented with different labels, every Storybeat theoretically is the same exact thing: a single point in time along the thread of narrative that is your story. By offering you the chance to see these Beats at different resolutions, Authors can determine for themselves how much time to spend on a particular part of their story.

More detail = more time, and more specificity.

Subtxt offers three sizes of Storybeats:

  • Transit Storybeats
  • Progression Storybeats
  • Events Storybeats

The Scope of Storybeats

Transit Storybeats

Within the context of a complete story, you will find a total of 16 Transit Storybeats--four for each of the Four Throughlines. They will feel like "Acts" because they span a greater amount of time within the narrative.

The 16 Transits of a Complete Story

Progression Storybeats

Progression Storybeats are breakdowns of their parent Transit-level Storybeat. Think of these Progression Storybeats as telling the mini-"story" of the Transit Storybeat above them. If you break a Storybeat labelled "Progress" into the Progression Storybeats of "Truth, Evidence, Suspicion, and Falsehood," then those four Progression would tell the story of Progress for that Throughline.

In the beginning of a story, Progression Storybeats often end up in their own individual Scenes, cordoned off from the others. As the narrative progresses, and tension winds up, a "Scene" in your novel or screenplay might contain three or four of these Progressions (think the ending trench scene in the original Star Wars, where Storybeats from the Main Character, Influence Character, Relationship Story, and Objective Story fall into one action-packed moment).

A Complete Story with All Transits and Progressions

Event Storybeats

Events Storybeats illustrate the story of a Progression Storybeat. We refer to them as simply Events because they represent the smallest unit of narrative you can see without losing context of the entire story. If you were to dive further, you would be telling an entirely new story within the framework of your original story (Television series and seasons and individual episodes work this way).

Think of the Events as a specific outline for what happens in your Progression Storybeat from beginning to end. Again, in the beginning these four Events will represent the beginning, middle, and end of individual Progressions. As you get closer to the end, several groups of Events will work together to tell a highly dramatic and consequential climactic moment.

A Complete Story with All Transits, Progressions, and Events

A Complete Story

At the minimum, a story needs the 16 Transits to be considered a complete story. Note that you do not have to illustrate every single Transit, every single Progression, and every single Event. Stories are a mix of larger-sized Storybeats interspersed with smaller-sized Storybeats. As long as the Audience has enough information to connect the dots between these Thematic Cycles, the meaning of the story will hold together and the end result will be that of a complete story.

A Complete Story with Various Levels of Transits, Progressions, and Events

For more on this concept, please read the article on Narrative First entitled Traversing the Storybeats of a Complete Story.

Setting the Level of Detail

When you begin developing your story with Subtxt, the number of Storybeats is quite manageable. Four Transits in Four Throughlines gives you the minimal coverage for a complete story, and that relatively small amount of information (16 Storybeats) is easy to navigate during development.

As you grow that number beyond the initial sixteeen Storybeats, some Throughines can become quite overwhelming to navigate. As you zoom in and out mentally from the Transit level down to the Event level, you find yourself lost and wishing there was a way to focus in on one level at a time.

There is.

Setting the Scope of the Throughline View

At the top of each Throughline, you'll find a three "dots" icon that you can click in order to set the level of detail.

Setting the Level of Detail

The choices within this dropdown menu are multi-selectable, meaning you can show just the Transits, or just the Transits and the Progressions, or just the Events. Any combination of all three will adjust the current Throughline View to a scope that is more manageable for you and your writing process.