Subtext membership vs Dramatica, need opinions fr users

Besides preference, what would be the benefit of a year membership to Subtext (@jhull) vs using it month by month as needed?

I expect using the app would create the framework and a working summary of the story as we have w Dramatica. But still we need to tweak/write the story offline, including the entire editing process. It seems that unless you are continually in the creation mode, the membership would be on hold between stories except for maybe a pop in.

On the other hand, if it speeds the process, enabling effectively one story per month, it would make itself “earn it’s keep” so to speak.

Would love advice and comments from users.

Related to this, it would help please let me know how many hours a day/month you use it for what type of project/output.

Whether you do the year or monthly, there’s a lot of benefits to Subtext regardless.

The Subtext app, which basically helps you write a Dramatica-lly sound story without worrying too much about the detail of the storypoints, is worth the subscription alone honestly. What Jim’s created has really helped me write quickly and more effectively, so that’s a big plus.

And you get all of the Narrative First storyforms, which are cool and updated regularly.

You get to speak directly with Jim if you have questions or suggestions for the app or anything like that, he’s super helpful.

But my biggest recommendation in terms of the yearly subscription is the Writers’ Room, which is like an awesome weekly masterclass. I haven’t been able to take part in them live too often, but the archived recordings have been massively helpful. If you’re new to Dramatica or learning, this is probably the biggest benefit.

I don’t know how many hours I use the app, but I know that I use it daily for screenplay writing. So, in my opinion, it’s highly recommended.


I still use both …

Subtext I use frequently as reference to look up examples how I could use Concerns, Issues, Elements in my stories. Using Subtext is also much faster to search Gists or get inspirations than using Dramatica or the Gist Browser on

After I have done my story setup and know somehow what my story is about I use Subtext to write a first treatment. As my storyforms keeps changing with each revision I do further changes in a simple text editor. But the Gist feature in Subtext is invaluable for a first draft. You can just focus on your story and forget a bit the theory behind.

I also still like to work with Dramatica. After a few revisions of a treatment – when you know much better what you really want to say - Dramatica works better for me for fine tuning.

Fine Tuning could like this inner monolog:
“Ah, the second signpost should be Doing, and the last one is definitely Obtaining … oh interesting, this forces an Outcome of Failure … oh, right, that makes sense … maybe the Througline for the MC is not Activity but Mind …”

I learned Dramatica before Subtext. But from my experience today I would suggest to start with Subtext first and dive little by little into Dramatica.

With Subtext you get a really cool reference browser and its really user friendly. With Dramatica you get the full power to tweak your story in any direction - but you will need some time to learn the theory.


[quote=“Gernot, post:3, topic:2491”]
I would suggest to start with Subtext first and dive little by little into Dramatica.
[/quote] I’ve been working w Dramatica for twelve years (since 2007!) and finally think I know what I’m doing. Sorta. Thanks for telling me how it works for you. Very helpful details.

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I like the month by month membership because, as you said, there are certain times where you might not be using Subtext as much, especially if you plan your project in advance.

This year, I put my membership on hold for a few months while I finished one story (big sci-fi novel). That one I had planned and understood enough that I didn’t really need Subtext to finish it. (I did make use of the treatment I had exported from Subtext, of course.)

Then, I started a new project but didn’t need Subtext immediately as I was still coming up with ideas for it. Once I started to sense a premise/storyform in it, I renewed my monthly membership. At that point Subtext was invaluable at convincing me I had the right storyform (because the PSR gists were so accurate).

For this current project, I have done less planning, almost at the verge of “pantsing” it. Because of that, I have found that I’m going into Subtext a few times a week to update illustrations of beats that I have either recently written or am about to come up to. Subtext is helping me to sort of see and understand the story on the horizon, to see which of my ideas fit the story better. And to give me a nice pat on the back when I realize how well something I’ve already written fits an existing beat (though I didn’t realize it at the time).

Note that because of how I use Dramatica and develop story ideas, I think I would always figure out the storyform (or a small number of candidate storyforms) in Dramatica first, before importing them into Subtext. I can’t really imagine trying to base a story off of an existing film’s storyform, unless I was literally going in with no ideas at all. I feel like by the time I get them, my ideas already have a storyform (or small number of potential storyforms) baked into them.


Oh, forgot to mention that one reason not to go month to month and put it on hold sometimes, it’s really sad to miss any Writer’s Rooms! They’re awesome! (Though if you’re not going to be able to make many in a particular month, due to holidays or other commitments, that might be a good reason to suspend the membership for a bit.)


“It” (theory, software, system aids, consultant) is like buying a complete set of some favorite art supplies. There is life and there is art production bursts. Whatever is fun, that’s the way to go. But I find in life that it is better to get a year’s subscription of anything (IF I CAN AFFORD IT) because I can put family and necessary social/work matters first, then always have the subscription thing to tap into for any free time that then opens up.