Why Four Acts Are Better Than Three

The Middle of a story deserves just as much respect as the Beginning and End. It provides crucial context for the characters' actions and decisions.

Many break narrative down into Three Acts. After all, what could be simpler than Beginning, Middle, and End? Unfortunately, this idea that the “Middle” somehow stands equivalent to Beginning and End leads many to write incomplete and broken stories.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Generate a One-Page Synopsis

Many writers find themselves challenged with being able to answer the question, What is your story about? They will know what happens when, and to whom, but they'll pause when it comes to defining that illusive meaning. And meaning is what story is all about.

Creative Writing with an Artificial Intelligence: Part 2

Continuing my magical journey with a brand new creative writing partner

Back to my late night creative writing. After a day of installing all the necessary items needed to start using Subtxt AI to start generating major Plot points (Story Drivers in Dramatica theory), I sat down to work on my story.

What Is an Obstacle Character?

The Obstacle Character is the point-of-view that blocks the Main Character from just sweeping their personal problems under the carpet.

Subtxt reverts to the original core understanding and foundation of Dramatica theory, way back when first released in the early to mid-nineties. At that time, when the theory first introduced the point of view to challenge the Main Character and fuel their personal growth, it was known as the Obstacle Character.

Creative Writing with an Artificial Intelligence: Part 1

Setting out on a magical journey with a brand new creative writing partner

Recently, I wanted to write a story.

Modeling Meaningful Storytelling with AI

Artificial intelligence is a great way to make your writing better, and it will not replace you.

Modern coverage of artificial intelligence and its use in a narrative is an exercise in self-delusion. The often passive-aggressive lashing out at the inevitable is almost always an act of self-preservation—as if the acceptance of a hyper-aware and hyper-intelligent automated writing partner will somehow end up in that AI "taking my job." The collective conclusion is comfortable deniability: computers can't write stories.

Story Structure: The Ingredients of a Narrative

The premise of a story is the argument of the story, and it is the job of the artist to make the message of the premise meaningful.

Flipping through some of the Premises in Subtxt, one might find them cold and uninviting. "Abandon your skepticism and can guarantee a profitable future?" Writers don't talk this way, do they? They don't--but they do think that way.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season One Pilot) Second Act Treatment

The narrative structure of everything in a single episode

Hot on the heels of Jay Hayward's post about Giving Your Story the Subtxt Treatment, I present a detailed Plotting of Transit Two from the Season One Pilot of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Modeling Alternate Realities in Narrative Applications

The relationship between the Failure and Consequence of a complete story

One of the most confounding aspects of the Dramatica theory of story is the relationship between the Consequence of a story and the Concern of the Relationship Story Throughline.

Using Artificial Intelligence as a Co-writer, Not a Parlor Trick

Developing a new way to develop meaningful stories

GPT-3 is incredible. The "Gee-whiz" factor is undeniable. And while initial results are nothing short of pure magic, the majority of work being done in this space treats the tech as a replacement, rather than a collaborator.

Traversing the Storybeats of a Complete Story

What it means to transition through a narrative

Subtxt generates an impressive blueprint of the meaning of a narrative. Based on the Dramatica theory of story, the 336 Storybeats present in each Storyform help transmit the intended message, or Premise, of a work to the Audience.

On Being a Story Consultant

Appreciating the often misunderstood

Recently, a student at Falmouth University in Cornwall (studying for a Master's Degree in Screenwriting and Storytelling), asked me a couple of questions about what I do as a story consultant. While many have a complete misunderstanding of what the work entails, my role as consultant really boils down to a single concept: collaboration without the ego.

Gaining Objectivity While Writing a Story

Stepping outside of yourself to appreciate what you have written

The easiest thing for writers to do is to jump inside their characters' heads and illustrate how the story's world looks from the inside. The hardest thing is to separate themselves from that experience and look back to see what it all means.

Writing Your First Act with Confidence

What it looks like to know the subtext of every scene

These past couple of months found us helping Authors write their stories with a confidence unheard of prior to the advent of our application, Subtxt. Compiled into a package we call Your First Act, this rapid session of brainstorming meetings leave the writer with an extensive and detailed outline for every scene within that key first section of any story. The feedback is sensational and the process helped us refine many of the tools and features of Subtxt.

Discovering The Origins of Narrative Structure

The Dramatica theory of story, twenty years before its time

Check this out.

Writing a Scene with Subtxt

Defining the elements at play beneath the surface

Meaningful story structure accounts for the storyteller. If our understanding of psychology is correct and we see who we are, then a productive model of organized thought (structure) must consider the observer. Subtxt's latest approach to organizing narrative adheres to this line of thinking.

How to Classify the Atomic Elements of Story Structure

Writing narrative events with intention and meaning

Effective story structure is more than an outline of what happens. For the order to mean something beyond the superficial, it must communicate something intrinsic to both the order and relationship between individual Storybeats. Knowing the elemental nature of events grants the purposeful writer a unique ability unheard of in other explorations of narrative structure.

The Holistic View of Time

Taking into account specific mindsets when organizing story structure

The Dramatica theory of story accounts for both Male and Holistic Mindsets. Recognizing the impact the observer plays on the observed, the original concept of Mental Sex (Mindset in Subtxt) sought to replicate the alternate "operating systems" present within humanity. Some trend more towards reason, others manage relationships and balance. And while both are available to all, one dictates the kind of stories we tell ourselves.

Understanding the Purpose of Backstory

Avoiding the crutch of avoiding conflict

After twenty years in the animation industry and five more helping writers 1-on-1 develop their stories, one thing is clear—writers will do anything to avoid writing real conflict.

The Obstacle Character is Not a Character

De-personalizing the personal in order to achieve balance

Too many writers new to Dramatica and Subtxt write the Obstacle Character Throughline as if the Main Character in their story. Part of this misunderstanding lies in how Subtxt used to present Storybeats; the other is the tendency for writers to look at the structure from the point-of-view of the characters.