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 Subtxt, 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 Subtxt 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.

If you can't select a Player for a particular Throughline, make sure you have Specific Players checked in the dropdown at the top of the Storybeat tab.

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

Obstacle Character Throughline Hand-Offs

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 Obstacle Character for a particular Main Character.

The Dramatic Argument of A Christmas Carol

Regardless of who takes on the baton, the force of impact--or influence--on the Main Character remains consistent. This can be useful when the Obstacle 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 Obstacle Character doesn’t need to be there—only their point-of-view matters in the balance of the narrative.

Relationship Story Throughline Hand-Offs

As with the Obstacle Character Throughline, you can hand-off the Relationship Story Throughline from one relationship to another. One example of this would be the hand-off of the mentorship between Peter B. Parker and Miles in Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse to the father/son relationship between Miles and his father.

The Relationship Hand-Off in Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

The thematic issues found in the mentorship are also found in the father/son relationship. Both relationships relate through the subtext, or deep thematic issues, of the narrative.

The same sharing of similar thematic issues occurs in Good Will Hunting:

The Relationship Hand-Off in Good Will Hunting

The Friendship between Will and Chuckie (Ben Affleck) carries the same thematic elements found in the Therapeutic Relationship. More importantly, both grow from beginning to end. These are not simply Will's relationships--these are relationships that exist between different sets of Players.

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.

Adding a Second Player for One Relationship

Authors note this growth in Subtxt 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 Hand-Off

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.

The Main Character Hand-Offs in Stalag 17

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 Hand-Off

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 Storybeat. This can 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.

For example, imagine a story with the following plot progression for the first Transit (Act):

  • Openness while Becoming
  • Delay while Becoming
  • Choice while Becoming
  • Preconception while Becoming

Imaginary Player Joe can take up the Storybeat of Openness in the Objective Story Throughline for Act One, while another imaginary Player Joshua can take over for the next Storybeat of Delay to Choice. And together, as a Group of “good guys” (a third Player) they can both 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.

Storybeats and Character Elements

In Dramatica theory, characters are assigned Character Elements within the context of the Objective Story Throughline. The Protagonist recieves Pursuit and Consider, while the Guardian character gets Help and Hinder. Looking at the very bottom of that Throughline, one finds 64 of these Elements--64 Elements which match and call to mind some of the Storybeats found in Subtxt.

The Storybeats in Subtxt do not correlate with the assignation of Character Elements in the Objective Story Plot. A Progression that calls for Help | Oppose | Support | Hinder does not mean that it has to be about the Guardian (Help), Skeptic (Oppose), Sidekick (Support), or Contagonist (Hinder). And there is no benefit towards looking at those characters for this or any other specific Progression.

Storybeats are about WHAT happens WHEN within a narrative. WHO carries it out is completely up to the Author.

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