The State of Narrative First 2018

Our year in review.

The end of the year always inspires quiet reflection and a greater community spirit. Many businesses take this timely opportunity to combine both into an Annual Report. Narrative First proudly joins this tradition with a look back, and a vision for 2019.


Narrative First saw a 40% increase in overall revenue for the calendar year 2018. Much of the responsibility for this incredible achievement rests on the shoulders of our story outlining app, Subtext. With close to 1,000 registered users of the service, Subtext solidifies our position as an important force in the development of popular novels, television series, and feature films.

We released version 2 of Subtext in November and the feedback has been nothing short of incredible. Further development of Subtext features heavily in our plans for 2019–we want it to be the very best tool for quickly developing solid and meaningful stories.


In addition, we saw a huge increase in the number of writers who turned to us for our story development service Deliberate Storytelling.

The astonishing part is that these creatives hail from all across the globe: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the UK and the US, France, Canada, and China. At one time last year, we were running a 24 hour a day operation!

Great storytelling knows no sleep.

And in 2018, we marked off a new kind of Author: the game-developer. In fact--come to think of it--we did it twice!

Game developers now join the ranks of creatives seeking solid narratives:

  • screenwriters
  • novelists
  • executive producers
  • directors
  • playwrights
  • documentary filmmakers

How We Get Things Done

In an effort to inform and inspire (and because we love these kinds of posts), we offer our list of tools and services that factor into this year's success:

We manage the content on Narrative First with Statamic--an insanely great CMS that offers the power of a traditional dynamic database with the ease of storing data in flat files.

We write those flat files in iaWriter (we're using it right now!). There is no better place to be at one with the written word.

Occasionally, we jot down a thought or two into Drafts. Custom keybindings within Drafts makes it easy for us to quickly assign links to past articles and touch points within Subtext.

Subtext was built with Laravel and VueJS. The community for both products is incredibly supportive and creative, and we're extremely pleased that we chose this route. We jump back and forth between SequelPro and Querious to manage databases.

F-Bar gives us instant access to our Forge servers. These servers reside on DigitalOcean, with SSL certificates managed by CloudFlare.

We use GitHub to store the source code and track bug issues. The latest version of Tower helps manage our repositories while avoiding the Terminal.

We switched from Sublime to Visual Studio Code this year in anticipation of greater integration with GitHub.

On the collaboration front, we dropped Slack and doubled-up on Quip, as the latter integrates most of what we were doing with the former into one location.

Dramatica Story Expert ensures the integrity of the stories we develop with our clients. An installation of Discourse opens up conversations with those same Authors.

We record podcasts with a Yeti microphone from Blue. We transcribe and edit those recordings with Descript. We publish our final mix with Ferrite on iOS.

Simplecast manages our podcasts.

We use Drip for our email marketing campaigns and automation workflows. Intercom for customer support. And Zapier to combine the two. And we turn to Buffer to help us publish timely tweets and grams.

Spark for email on both the Mac and iOS. Timepage to make sure we don't miss an appointment. And Zoom to connect with those worldwide writers and to record our ever-increasing library of Writers Room instructional videos.

A Look Forward

If 2018 was the Year of Abundance, then 2019 will be the Year of Clarity. Clarity on who we are, where we are going, and what we can do to help creatives from every medium write strong meaningful stories.

A great story changes someone.

That's why we believe so much in what we do and why we are so passionate about our work to improve the quality of storytelling everywhere.

2018 was a great story for Narrative First--but it's not the only one.

In fact, we like to think of 2018 as the first of many chapters in an even larger narrative--one that involves you and the rest of the creative world--one that brings us all together with the simple act of telling a great story.

We hope you enjoyed ours and we look forward to telling more with you in 2019.

-- Jim from Narrative First

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