The Four Components of a Narrative
There are four major components of a narrative found in Subtxt:
- The Storyform
Taken together, these four communicate the intended message from Author to Audience.
The Storyform is a blueprint, or schematic, of thematic intent. In its most simplest form, the Storyform defines the Premise, or Dramatic Argument, of the narrative. In its most expansive form, the Storyform details over 400 unique aspects that carry the intent of Author to Audience.
Players function as buckets of perspective: holders of context for the Audience to manage reference points. A single Player could hold several different reference points at once. For instance, the “Hero” of a narrative would be that Player that holds both the Main Character Throughline perspective and the Objective Story function of Pursuit.
Players can also maintain the growth of a Throughline throughout a narrative. For instance, a single relationship might begin as a player entitled Strangers yet might end up as a Romantic Player in the narrative.
The Players component reinforces the concept that Subtxt is for Authors, not the Audience. Players are not characters—they are vessels for transporting meaning.
The Storypoints of a narrative are spatial aspects of story. They answer the question what is and why? Typically grouped under the umbrella of “theme”, the Storypoints point the Author towards the true sources of conflict in a narrative.
The Storybeats of a narrative are temporal aspects of story. They answer the question what happens when? Most often misunderstood as “Acts” or “Scenes”, the Storybeats functions as heartbeats of a narrative, drumming thematic intent from Author to Audience.
The last three components, Players, Storypoints & Storybeats, share a common interface in Subtxt: Storytelling on top, Subtext on the bottom. The dividing line for these two sections is a curved line meant to bring to mind the following image:
The Storytelling is what your Audience will experience, the Subtext is what you, as Author, designate to form the foundation of your story.
With every component, there are two AI buttons: Brainstorming AI and Subtext AI. The top one, Brainstorming AI, is a superficial inspirational tool with a lightweight connection to the meaning of your story. Expect the same kind of feedback you would find in other AI text-generation applications from this button, with a bit more intent and purpose mixed in with the AI responses.
The Subtext AI is unique to Subtxt in that it connects writers with the deeper meaning of their story. This is where Subtxt shines when it comes to developing a narrative. Acting as part mentor/part collaborator, the Subtext AI button explains why a particular Player/Storypoint/Storybeat should appear in a story and how best to illustrate it for maximum effectiveness.
When you have illustrated and defined the Subtext of a particular Player, Storypoint, or Storybeat, a Surface Storytelling button will appear next to the Subtext AI button (looks like an up arrow). Pressing this button will "surface", or transform the understanding of the Subtext into Storytelling applicable for your particular narrative.
More on this magic in later sections of the guide.
In addition to the AI buttons, there are several sections all components have in common:
From top-to-bottom, every Component offers:
- a Writing Prompt
- a General Illustration
- a Story-specific Illustration
- a section for Worldbuilding
- a section for the Storytelling
- Thematic Aspects
- a section for defining the Subtext
- Definitions & Examples of the Component as used in other narratives
Even if you didn't have access to Subtxt's complex predictive algorithms or AI-assisted text-generation, the Writing Prompt of every component inspire storytellers to take action in defining their story. Consider the question posed in this area as the over-riding topic of focus for the component.
The next two sections: General Illustration and Story-specific Illustration work hand-in-hand as a means of bridging the gap between structure and storytelling. The Appreciations of Narrative Structure found in a Subtxt Storyform refer to very specific, very localized, analogies of thought-processes involved in the mind. As such, they can often be alienating to writers unfamiliar with their definitions or writers more comfortable with just "going-for-it" without a lot of thinking behind their process.
In the above example image, the Storybeat in question refers to the thematic concept of Conceiving. The Writing Prompt draws the Author closer to what is required by asking "How do the characters encounter conflict through coming up with an idea?" "Coming up with an idea" is an elaboration of what Conceiving means in a narrative. Generally speaking, this Storybeat should show the characters in the story coming into conflict over coming up with an idea, or failing to generate an idea, etc.
The General Illustration in the above example suggests "create a novel idea". "Creating a novel idea" is ONE way to illustrate Conceiving in a story, e.g. in The Social Network the characters in the story come into conflict over the idea for a social network to connect everyone together. Their conflict is in the conceiving, not the doing of it (because it's really not all that difficult to do it (program it, roll it out, etc.)).
The General Illustration spans the gap between Appreciation (Conceiving) and the story itself, guiding the writer from structure to storytelling.
While you can submit General Illustrations to be used by the collective in Subtxt, you are also welcome to submit Story-specific Illustrations for individual Storybeats and Storypoints in Subtxt. For instance, in the above example you could tap in the Story-specific section and write: "create a novel idea for a social network", further specifying the illustration of this Storybeat in your story.
The General Illustrations and Story-specific Illustrations are used by the AI in Subtxt to generate Storytelling, NOT Subtext. The Subtext AI features are reserved for the thematic intent of a story which is inherently detached from the superficial expression of such thematic material.
While the AI is often quite good in generating Storytelling for your story based on other aspects, there are times when you want to specifically denote people, places, locations, or things, for use in the generation of Storytelling. Worldbuilding is where your imagination runs free and where you can inform Subtxt of the kind of world you hope to find in the responses from the artificial intelligence.
If familiar with AI-generated art, this is where you would enter the same kind of prompt you would submit to those systems (sans aspect ratios, artists, and medium, etc.). Anything that lights your imagination is welcome in the Worldbuilding section.
The center of every Component is where you eventually want to end up as you develop these aspects of your story. Consider the path more of a spiral from to bottom and back to center, rather than a simple split between superficial Storytelling and deep-thematic Subtext.
The Storytelling is what your audience will see/read/hear in your final delivery. Subtxt is NOT a place to write your story, it's a place to develop your story. When you have completed the development process, the reports you download specifically and intentionally remove ALL structural aspects so that you are left with only what you have written in the Storytelling section of every component.
This is a feature: not a bug.
Eventually, you want to move beyond structure and subtext, and Subtxt makes that easier by focusing you in on the central, most important aspect of all this work: the Storytelling that will eventually reach out from you to the Audience.
Diving down into the Subtext half of a Narrative Component in Subtxt, the Thematic Aspects further define resonances that elaborate and harmonize with the more obvious, more structural Appreciation found at the top of a Component. In the above example, Conceiving is just part of what happens in this part of the narrative. Notions of Transcendence, Potential, and Situation further enhance this area of conflict by giving the Author a more refined understanding of the Component.
When tasked to respond with AI-generated responses in this section, Subtxt returns a greater understanding of the deep thematic issues that might be present in a Storybeat or a Storypoint connected to a particular aspect of the Storyform. In addition, the Illustrations of Subtext in the Player Components offer Authors an opportunity to better understand the deeper motivations driving characters throughout the narrative.
Finally, the very bottom of a Narrative Component in Subtext is a section for reference. Definitions of the Component and how it functions with a narrative are presented, as well as examples from other narratives that share similar thematic aspects.