Subtext "best practices" for OS Scenes and Variations

I’m calling this “best practices” because I know there’s not one right answer, but I’d like to hear people’s experiences.

If you’re outlining a story told from multiple points of view from the OS – say, one set of scenes that tell what the Protagonists are doing, and another describing the Antagonists – do you find it’s better to create a separate Signpost beat for each POV? Or does it work better to simply assign one or more of the PSR Variations to each?

I’ve resisted doing the latter because I have this feeling that the PSR creates a Sequence that makes more sense when it involves the same characters or POV. But is that true?

I know I can create just one separate Beat e.g. one Antagonist scene that’s just “Conceptualizing” without breaking it down. But what if I want more than one Antagonist scene – but don’t necessarily have the space or material to do a whole sequence? Or – could you just repeat one of the Variations for the other POV?

Also: do people break the other throughlines down? And do you do it consistently – for example, break the MC throughline into separate scenes for each Act? Or maybe the first act has four MC scenes (the Variations), but by the fourth Act, you don’t need all four, and one will do?

Just curious how others have experienced this.

EDIT – I moved this from the Subtext category to Writing because as @mlucas pointed out it’s not clear how many Subtext users have access to that category. Happy to move it back if that’s the consensus.


This is such a great topic. I have thoughts but I’m more interested in what others think.

Bit this I can’t resist:

If you’re going to just do one Antagonist scene that’s Conceptualizing—make sure you break it down. You need those Atomic Beats to keep the scenes consistent (structurally). If you just take the Variations/Issues as the parts of a scene, it won’t work.

What I’ve found works amazingly well for this situation is to break the Signpost down, abd then break the Scene marked “Current”. Break that down and use those Atomix Beats to write your scene about Conceptualizing.

It works so well, it’s crazy. Because the Current is the flow of the process, this scene describes the flow of Conceptualizing.

Now—it’s likely you could use others as well, but for now it makes sense, and appears to be the way, to keep that flow of scenes at the molecular level, without having to capture all of them in your story.


This is awesome @jhull ! I’m going to process/experiment with this and return with follow-ups.

Just to follow up @jhull :

I’m assuming the answer is yes, but just be clear: does this work for other throughline beats as well?

For example, say you only want/need one IC scene in Act 1. You break down IC Signpost 1 into the PSR Variations, find the one that’s “Current” (delete or hide the others) and then break that down that beat into the Elements – and that’s your one IC scene. Correct?

Yep - if the Current is the “flow” of the Process - just use wherever you see it (which is often the 3rd one, but be careful - it could be somewhere else!) and write from there as if it is describing its Parent method.

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Great questions, @Lakis!

I’ll create 2 x OS throughlines, and I dedicate one line to everyone except the antagonist. The antagonist gets his very own dedicated line in my “book”. Having said that, I don’t populate his with illustrations. What it serves is as mental space in my own head to see what he could do. If the antagonist is the IC, though, an extra OS line isn’t necessary.

I break them all down, yes….they help give me a sense of where I’m going or whether I’m on the right track

I’ll have to try @jhull suggestion of breaking down Current only. That’ll be very interesting!


Oh, interesting … I think this hits at some of the problems I have. Stuff has to happen “offstage”, but it takes too long/is too confusing to fully illustrate every variation more than once.