What to Do With the Treatment

Managing Storytelling Overload

Writing with Subtxt is an enlightening experience. Unfortunately for some, it's almost too much of an enlightenment. After exporting the Treatment into Scrivener, Highland, or iA Writer, one is faced with the daunting prospect of having an over-abundance of storytelling from which to write--almost like a reverse "writer's block" issue. 😅

Fear not.

There are several techniques and methodologies one can use to navigate having too much story. The key factor here is the Artist's Intuition. While different mediums maintain different expectations in terms of word, chapter, or page count, in the end all that matters is that the artist feels as if their story has been told.

As long as the writer turns to their heart for answers, what needs to stay and what needs to fall back will become clear and definitive.

The Writer's Impression First

Before one even attempts to manage a complete Storyform, check in with the original intent. Ultimately, this is the writer's story, not a Dramatica/Subtxt Storyform story. In short, this is the point where it comes down to the writer's intuitive sense as a storyteller.

Do you, as the writer, feel like there is too much story, or do you feel like it's just enough and tells exactly the kind of story you want to tell?

If the latter, forget the page count and chapter concerns and just start writing. The rest will sort itself out.

If the former, you can try some of the following approaches.

Folding Storybeat Scenes into Scenes

With a completed Treatment in Subtxt in hand, the writer holds a COMPLETE argument. Everything they need to communicate the meaning of their Premise is locked away within their illustrated Storyform (Treatment).

The typical length of a Feature Screenplay is 28-32 Scenes. Looking at a Subtxt Treatment, this equates to illustrating every Objective Story Scene, every Main Character Scene, and then one Influence Character Scene, and one Relationship Story Scene.

Every Act features:

  • 4 OS Scenes
  • 4 MC Scenes
  • 1 IC Scene
  • 1 RS Scene

Multiplied by four, this comes out to 40 total scenes for the entire piece.

But not every Storybeat Scene works itself out in isolation.

While each Storybeat typically gets its own Scene in the first or second Signpost (Act One, or Act 2a), there are likely areas where the writer can blend Storybeats together into one Scene, or where they can let certain Scenes fall back altogether.

Subtxt provides the tools necessary to visualize this blending and grouping of Storybeats with its Scene view. Simply navigate to the appropriate Act, add Scenes, and then drag and drop Storybeats as needed.

This is where the Author needs to decide what is more important and what is deserving of more time.

Focusing on the Current of a Storybeat

If grouping Storybeats into Scenes is not enough to reduce the story down to a manageable size, another approach looks to letting some Scenes "drop out" within certain Throughlines.

In a Feature Screenplay, most writers look to the Relationship Story Throughline or Influence Character Throughline as a place to start this process. This is why our suggestion above concerning the typical pacing of a Signpost sees only one Scene for each of these Throughlines.

To lessen the impact, or appearance of a particular Throughline, take the Storybeat Scene marked "Current" and turn off the visibility of the other three Scenes.

The Current of a set of four Storybeats in a Storyform represents the process of the parent Storybeat. If the Signpost calls for Instinct, Senses, Interpretation, and Conditioning Scenes within the context of Conceptualizing and the Interpretation Scene is tagged with "Current", then the totality of Conceptualizing for that Throughline will be about a thematic Issue of Interpretation.

Current is the process itself. As a Storybeat is simply a process, or object module function, on the way towards delivering an argument to the Audience, the Current is the very best place to find the essence of that parent Storybeat. While it appears to be only 1/4 of the Storybeat, its presence as the process elevates it to a higher status.

If you want to utilize this approach, turn off the sibling Storybeat Scenes in the Scene view, but ONLY if you don't mind losing the information or illustrations you had in those other Storybeats.

You can likely fold some of the ideas for the other Storybeats into that one Current Scene for the Act, so don't feel like you have to lose all that work in the process. Don't assume you delete them and lose their presence in the story. The idea would be that--whether or not you drag some of their illustration into that one Scene--the information from those processes still runs in the background of the narrative, even if the Audience isn't privy to them.

Choosing One Throughline over the Other

While feature Screenplays typically roll back the impact of the Influence Character Throughline or Relationship Story Throughline, don't feel as if that is a certainty. Writers maintain the room to scale up or down any of the Four Throughlines to suit their artistic preferences. If you lean more towards Plot, then keep all of the Objective Story and Main Character Throughlines, and scale back the Influence Character and Relationship Story to just one Scene per Act. Attachments

If you prefer exploring relationships, then keep all of the Scenes from the Relationship Story Throughline and the Main Character Throughline, and scale back the Influence Character and Objective Story Throughlines to just one Scene.

And scaling back doesn't always mean JUST one Scene. You can scale back to 2 Scenes and the Audience won't feel as if something is missing.

If you end up scaling back to just three Scenes, they may start to feel as if something is missing. Once you have three of four items in a quad of Storybeats, Audience members will instinctively know what that fourth item is and will expect to see it play out.

Rhythm and Pacing for Subsequent Acts

Don't feel locked into one approach, even for a single story. You can change up the rhythm from Act to Act (Signpost to Signpost) without upsetting Audience Reception. Don't feel like you have to focus on the same Throughlines with the same amount of weight in each Act.

The only thing we wouldn't suggest is to illustrate 27 scenes in the first Act, 25 in the Signpost 2, and then only 12 in the 3rd and 6 in the 4th.

That's a bit uneven.

While it is natural to progressively get faster with each Signpost (think switching gears in a car, where the gear itself gets smaller and smaller, and therefore speeds through one revolution faster and faster than the initial gears) you don't want to completely throw the Audience off with a haphazard approach.

Once you setup a rhythm and a pace, we strongly suggest continuing and honoring that contract from beginning to end--naturally speeding up slightly as the story draws to a close.

In the End

No matter what, the key to knowing what to leave out and what to put in lies in the Author's heart.

Take the above approaches as guidelines for following the Artist's Original Intent.