Wishlist For New Outlining Program

Forgive me for adding this here instead of the Screenplay.com forum, which looks unseen since 2017.
Outline 4D looks wonderful, full of features a screenwriter needs, except I am a Mac user. However, I have made a list of some additions. Perhaps we could drum up interest in releasing a new version.

  • identify which Dramatica point the beat is illustrating (as available in Dramatica Story Expert)

  • hierarchical levels: Act, Sequence, Scene, Beat. The beat level is key to identifying a number of element illustrations, such as Problem and Concern, within the scene. Example: One scene contains Michael’s OS problem and Bill’s OS Issue.

  • ability to create multiple illustrations for Objective Throughline elements so that multiple characters can be individually illustrated. Example: Michael’s OS Concern and John’s OS Concern as two separate elements.

  • have character interactions identified by their objective story functions available as element illustrations. Example: Michael (pursuit) is amplified by Bill (control).




Thanks. I took a look this past week at Subtext, suspecting it may be the next professional step. From what I’ve seen, I wish it could let you outline more elaborately. Could you add a way of identifying which Dramatica points apply to a beat? Armando’s technique of building a scene with a story point. Another feature, a spin-off from Story Expert, I wish would be in an Outlining program is the ability to add objective character interactions as story points. This would include their functions (e.g. Tom (pursuit) and Sally (hinder) ).

In practice, both of these approaches are overkill and will lead to you not finishing your story. The latter is particularly suspect as character interactions should lean more heavily on the art and talent of the writer to bring the Audience in, rather than a mechanical interpretation of function.

At that level, you’re getting so close to the Audience that you’re better off intuiting structure as its already so blended and skewed.

I’m purposefully leaving out aspects of Dramatica that I’ve found to be hinderances to the creative process. What is in there is everything I’ve found useful during my years of coaching and consulting with all kinds of writers.

Attaching Storypoints other than those specific to the flow of sequencing (Signposts, PSR) is also a distraction. You end up trying to make sure you cover all these bases, when in reality—if you follow that sequencing and balance it with your own writer’s Intuition of the premise—you’ll end up with an amazing story.


Just wanted to say, Jim’s brilliant storybuilding innovations are obviously the star of the show in the app, but don’t underestimate the fantastic Explore features. I use Jim’s app rather than google for dramatic definitions at this point. it’s all moving in the right direction.


Thank you so much!

And if you thought it was great on Friday, just look what I rolled out in a day:

Crowdsourcing Narrative Conflict

With everyone contributing, development expands exponentially!!!


I like that idea very much. I like your gists but oftentimes, consarn it, I want my own.

I cannot mash the Like button more than once, but please listen to this advice. Heck, I developed an entire outlining tool that reads both PSR and Story Output reports that dynamically assigns 8 Players (4 Drivers, 4 Passengers) their own 64 Character Elements (16 within each Throughline, 2 from each of the 8 Archetypes) without repeating elements across each of the PSR Themes. It’s overkill. And I’ve realized just how convoluted things get. Stick with the two reports and you’ll be just fine creating your story.

Go down the rabbit hole, but know when to hop out.


Yes! Also note, the PSR can be more complex than you might think. Because the Variations define areas of exploration, the storybeats they create can and often will be repeated throughout the Act/Signpost. This is especially true of OS (where different characters may go through PSR Variations in different ways), but not necessarily limited to OS.

Jim’s Subtext tool allows this, in a very intuitive way. Here’s an example of OS PSR item Deficiency within Signpost 1 of Learning, from my current WIP, The Cats of Waverley Manor:

(and later on, separated by several other beats):


I just wanted to second this and emphasize the usefulness not just of the gists in Subtext but the ability to name different players for the beats (as you did above).

In my case I’m seeing a pattern (not strict) where I have one or two OS Signposts that are broken down into the PSR, and another for a different character group that’s just the Signpost. Having this kind of storytelling flexibility is amazing.