Working with the Plot Sequence Report

Honestly, you couldn’t be more right. Especially for the Novel format. So in my experience, I’ve storyformed, encoded to a degree, and then done some of the character development stuff. Now I use the PSR in a very free flowing format. I adhere to the rules e.g All Signpost 1 stuff stays in the first act etc. But I set myself up for surprises. I don’t know what I’m going to write per scene but I have these pointers to guide on the subject matter.
What I’ve found is that if there’s no surprise for the writer, there’s no surprise for the reader. Let it flow.


Probably this is a better question for a new thread, but as long as we’re here: I still wonder what part of a storyform is best used for the initial outlining and drafting.

I think the PSR order, for example, is completely unique to each storyform (although it would be good to confirm this). Logically, that means that using it allows for very little wiggle room. For example: I sometimes have trouble figuring out where which part of the Element Quad should go. (e.g. is this the Problem or the Focus?). Same thing with Outcome – I might realize late in the game that something I thought was a Failure was actually Success/Bad etc. Seems like you could encode most of the static points of the storyform and and still leave room to change your mind on those points.

But I write beats to a certain PSR, am I locking myself in in way that’s actually counterproductive to the discovery process? (I doubt there’s a simple answer to this question, just something I think about).


Hi @Lakis. The thing that I’ve found is to never hold onto an idea too tightly. The PSR helps to guide the content of the story. I take each variation as a scene. I tend to use all I’ve learnt about scenes to craft what’ll entertain me as an author/reader. Questions like what is this scene about? Who’s in it? What is the emotional impact on the reader and the characters? These guide my thoughts on what to put down. Although it is a bit limiting, but I find that limitations provoke very interesting thoughts. So I get as creative as I possibly can and finish the scene. THEN I read through my scribbling to figure out what the scene is trying to say, and then what possible storypoint to add that’ll enrich the experience. Then I go on to the next chapter/scene and the next and the next.


Hi @Khodu,

Yeah, this is basically my process now.

I still have difficulty accepting that things change in the process. Of course they do --it’s just not possible to know everything about your story ahead of time. I’m still trying to figure out where the balance is.

Do you ever realize at the end (or middle) of a draft that you chose the wrong storyform? In that case, was it still productive to use the PSR?

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:grin: Hi @Lakis. My mindset is quite simple. I believe that ALL storyforms contain a solid and well rounded argument. The assurance that I’m working with one as the base of my story sates my worries. I know I’m plot-hole proof. That said, it took a very long time -2 1/2 years - to let go of the control-freak side of my mind. The most important thing I’ve come to hold on to is to have your domains, concerns and Issues. The rest is malleable. The domain helps you nail the “Nature” of your story. The concerns gives you a goal to work towards and the Issues… Well, the Issues are the issues. The kind of emotional weight you wish to place on your reader/audience. Although there is just one “Issue” per Throughline, you have the counterpoint and the entire quad to play with. So doing a little treatment can give you an idea of how the story might feel thematically. I just focus on making those guide me and expect to be excited by where the PSR leads me.
Your own authors intent can bend the expression of these points to suit the story you’re trying to tell. The flair of your prose, your author voice etc, those give the story the life you’re looking for. Truth is, the story doesn’t exist yet.:slight_smile: , so make Openness your Unique Ability and see where the journey takes you.


Great answer @Khodu!

Ha! I’m still working on that. (Doing better recently though). I’ll take your experience as inspiration.

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I would also like to answer. YES and I have also found that it’s still productive to have been using the PSR. But…

I disagree with this as a blanket statement. It is often true, but sometimes you just know your characters better than your players. In such cases, it can be easy to choose a Concern that looks too much like it’s relative match in the Domain’s dynamic pair, e.g., The Past vs Memory.

(Personally, I’m blind to the OS in most stories. To me, the story is about the MC or the RS, which is why it’s a pain to find a movie that I know I’m going to like. Most ads show the OS.)

On the other hand, [quote=“Khodu, post:55, topic:2224”]
doing a little treatment can give you an idea of how the story might feel

This is absolutely true. Plus, even if you have the storyform wrong, writing to the PSR can help make you think about your characters more objectively in different situations, giving you a wealth of material to draw from. So, yes, it’s productive, though it can feel counterproductive at times.


Absolutely. I’m still working on this, too, though I’m finding Table-Top Roleplaying Games are helping with this.


That’s encouraging. In my most recent case I changed the whole storyform, including Domains and Concerns, and I changed the main character. I’m still using previous material, but I wonder if there could have been a faster process.

I certainly feel more solid in my understanding of Dramatica now though. We’ll see how that carries over to the next project.

Unfortunately, creativity has its own timeline. Though, apparently you can get amazing results if you stuff yourself under a time crunch that has real implications…

But anyway, keep working at it, and yeah, the PSR is great, even when you’re wrong about your story!

Also, thank you @jhull for creating the new topic for this conversation!

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I’ll answer this better later on. The psr shows you points you didn’t or couldn’t consider in advance.

I’ve noticed the psr responds differently based on the domain where your story goal type choice is placed.

I’ve found choosing a story goal from a psychology style will create twists and turns in your idea.

Using the psr with a story goal from a universe or physics type tends to create a narrative with a more predictable beginning and end for the writer.

I’ve found writing with a story goal from a mind type extremely difficult.


The simplest and most fun stories to write with the psr are with a story goal from the physics or universe domains.

I’ve found story goals from the psychology and mind domains the hardest to write through with the psr.

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Oh, interesting observation! I’ll have to test that out!

@Lakis @Khodu just sharing my recent learnings, worked quite well for me. Very productive with not too much back and forward

I found to have my argument first is the best way moving forward with PSR.

my approach is like:

  • Write a one page Synopsis on the story including at least the Story Driver, First Plot Point and Climax and be clear on the goal
  • Describe in a short paragraph the four different throughlines. This helps me to focus on the different stories going on. Otherwise I keep mixing the througlines and put scenes into the wrong throughline. This might be later the motivation to change the storyform again as the whole story feels suddenly odd.
  • Next step is, figure out the story form with the right argument for the story. Very important point, ist the story succes/good, success/bad …
  • Now I take the PSR and put (for each throughline separately) behind each variation (relates to…) only a short sentence. Basically what I try to do (for each throughline) is to tell the story (based on my throughline sentence) in 16 sentences. At the end I end up having 4x16=64 sentences. This is already a pretty good synopsis for your story.
  • Next step is to tweak each of the 64 sentences as such to get proper beats. This I can take later to write my scenes and make sure my story moves and has twists and changes.
  • Last step is to to take the 4 x 16 sentences or paragraphs and merge them together into a reasonable plot (sort and mix sentences of each throughline)

I doing all this in a simple text editor. To keep track of domain, singpost, singpost number and variation I keep all the necessary information until the very end. A line from my recent text file looks like this:

INT. Busstop - Nigth
WP# She has a wild fantasy
OC 2-4 Memory as it relates to Fantasy: Karla doesn’t join Ben, she heard only a few things about the place, but that’s already enough for her


Very interesting @Gernot. I never have the discipline to keep all the throughlines separate for that long, but I’m going to try that next time around.

Very interesting @Gernot. Love your approach. Will try some parts out.
I used to try to plot it all out before. But recently my thinking has changed quite a bit. I’ve found that when I have it all plotted out, I tend to adhere religiously to the outline. Thus, I’d shoehorn the characters into the plot. Too little wiggle room for deviations. Now I just do the broad strokes and let my intuition and knowledge of the craft guide me as I write.