I’ve typed out several replies and not been happy with any of them. I’m going to try to just keep this one simple. Also, even as i typed this reply, my view was still growing and changing, so keep that in mind. When writing the first paragraph,I didn’t necessarily plan on saying what ended up in, say, the fifth or sixth paragraph. Anyway...
The “whole story all at once” method is valid, and clearly works, but I think using it in isolation can lead to unnecessarily long connections being made in order to prove a story point. For instance, in the scene we’ve been discussing, saying that Future leads to the prisoner crying leads to the prisoner getting beaten to death seems to be starting with the Concern and taking the scenic route through one moment in one Sign Post in order to show that all of the conflict in the story is rooted in the Future.
But you don’t need every moment to be rooted in the future to have a Concern or even a Sign Post of the Future. In order to have a Sign Post with the “all at once” method, you need to be able to show that a chunk of about 7-8 minutes of screen time is rooted in the Future. To have a Concern, you need to have about 30 minutes worth of screen time.
Because you need a full 30 minutes over the course of 4 Sign Posts to have a Concern, one Sign Post can’t fully give a Concern. So rather than saying a Sign Post is rooted in the Future because that’s the Concern, it would make sense to say that the conflict of a Sign Post is rooted in X as an exploration of the Concern of the Future.
And since the prisoner getting beaten to death is only a minute or two, it can be neither a sign post nor a Concern. So it would make sense to say it happens as an exploration of the Future, but I see no reason to start building a chain of connections to the Future.
Think of it like this. Exploring the future takes time. It’s temporal. Therefore it makes sense to look at that as a holistic/non-linear connection. But being rooted in a process is a state. It’s structural. So it makes sense to look at that with as a direct/linear connection. If that’s accurate, the “all at once” approach would be best seen by making the shortest, most direct connection between conflict and source of conflict and would need to be used separate from, but in conjunction with the holistic connections. That would mean that, in any Sign Post, the conflict of the Concern would only need to be described as it relates to the whole plot while the conflict of any one Sign Post only needs to be described as it relates to that one Sign Post and the conflict of any one moment only needs to be described as what’s happening in that moment, but that everything can be described as an ongoing exploration of a more zoomed out level.
In that way, you avoid unnecessarily long connections that run the risk of creating more confusion while simultaneously keeping all of those connections in a description of how they relate both linearly and holistically to the storyform for what is ultimately a fuller, more complete picture of what’s going on.
Now here’s the thing about that. Where the “all at once” method requires you to view the storyform all at once, the other method forces you to view each part of the story as the tiniest chunk possible. The first should give you the best feel for the story overall while the second, if you can figure out where to place each of the smaller chunks, should give you the best opportunity to check your work and know if you’ve got a working storyform or not by measuring all the tiny direct connections.