Storybeats and Players

Storybeats reveal the perspective, or point-of-view, of a Throughline. This quality allows them to be handed-off from one Player to another. A single Throughline may require three or four characters to successfully tell its story. With Subtext, tracking Player hand-offs is simple.

In the Players View, you assign Players to Throughlines, casting them into specific roles for your story. Those Players are now available in each Storybeat. Simply tap on the Subject of a Beat to reveal your list of Players for the current Throughline. Make your selection, and Subtext assigns your choice to the Beat.

Remember that these Players are not traveling through your story and encountering these Beats—the story travels through the Players, using them to reveal thematic intent. Players are simply vessels for your story’s Premise.

Handing off the intent from one Player to another works the same way in every Throughline:

Influence Character Throughline

The classic example is A Christmas Carol, where the thematic Storybeats of Past, Progress, and Future play out amongst the three Ghosts. But it also happens in more modern fair like The LEGO Batman Movie or Little Women where different Players take on the role of Influence Character for a particular Main Character.

Regardless of who takes on the baton, the message of influence on the Main Character remains consistent. This can be useful when the Influence Character and Main Character find themselves separated physically within your novel or a screenplay. Either someone else takes on the perspective, or someone notes ”You know, if Joe was here she would say... The actual Influence Character doesn’t need to be there—only his point-of-view matters.

Relationship Story Throughline

While several different relationships may touch upon this Throughline, the most important hand-off occurs within a single relationship. Relationships must grow in order to qualify as a relationship within a narrative. Whether to grow closer, or to split further apart, the purpose of a relationship is growth.

Authors note this growth in Subtext by identifying two Relationship Players for every key Relationship: where the relationship starts, and where it ends. In this way, the writer tracks the development of the Relationship from one stage to another. A mentorship might grow into a friendship, a marriage may devolve into acquaintances; regardless of direction, Relationships that grow fulfill the story’s need to explore this area of conflict.

Main Character Throughline

While not often explored, theoretically Authors may hand-off the Main Character Throughline from one Player to the next. As it does reflect the intimate first-person point-of-view of conflict, the experience may be unsettling for some Audience members. Stalag 17 is an example of a group Main Character Throughline. While the film is not particularly troublesome, it does prove difficult to feel empathy towards the events on-screen.

Note that this is not the same situation in something like Game of Thrones or Westworld, where you find several Main Characters in their own separate Storyforms. Handing off the perspective is a handing off of the same thematic exploration. Epic series like those mentioned above often combine several different Storyforms into a single work.

Objective Story Throughline

Lastly, the Objective Story Throughline provides ample opportunity for hand-offs with its typically large cast of Players.

One approach finds the Author tracking each Objective Player through every Objective Story Beat. This cab work great for ensemble pieces where you want to explore the same thematic content through the experiences of several different characters.

Another approach finds the Author cherry-picking Players along the way, choosing those perfectly situated to carry out the message at a given time.

You can also mix both approaches together.

Joe can take up the Storybeat of Openness in the Objective Story Throughline for Act One, while Joshua can take over for the next Storybeat of Delay to Choice. And together, as a Group of “good guys” they can satisfy the last Objective Story Throughline Storybeat of Preconception.

In the end, all that matters is that the Audience can follow a single train of thematic intent from beginning to end. And even then, if you skip a Storybeat here and there, the Audience will subconsciously fill in the blanks for you.