There are those writers who feel that writing isn’t something that you should plan, plot or structure. You can generally call these writers “unpublished” or “unreadable”. Few (by which I mean very few) people can pull that off but generally it tends towards a rambling and unfocused piece of… work. Now if that is what you are aiming for, then StoryView isn’t for you.
StoryView is a visual outliner that uses a timeline format combined with a user customizable “events”. The timeline can be page, line, frame or traditional time constructs like minute or week. Structured under these are events that can be set to anything from two line stanzas to the full 300 episode series of a television drama.
As an example, here is a StoryView document that I’m working on for a prospective television series called Brave New World disOrder.
The timeline is in minutes since network television is very structured around the commercials. Even if you get a gig with HBO, they want to sell the show to the networks so it would be easier to structure it this way and simply drop in the commercials later rather than try to find breaks after the fact.
The top event in dark grey is the Episode event and there can be as many of those across as you want. In here I would write out exactly what I wanted to happen in this episode. What happens in the A and B story and if there will be a C story or not. (If things get that far, I can add another event above it for Seasons, enclosing six, thirteen or twenty-four Episode events underneath it.)
Nested underneath the Episode event are the Acts events, shown in light grey. Each show is slightly different but they all have a particular act structure. Mine is a half hour sitcom with a 1:30 teaser, two 9:30 acts and a 1:30 tag on the end. In here, I write exactly what needs to happen in the act.
The light green events underneath the Act events are the individual Scene events. While the Act events would be kept relatively rigid, the Scene events are as fluid and malleable as I want them to be. The Teaser and Tag have only one Scene event sitting in there right now but I could slam through nine scenes in that minute and a half if it was called for. The Scene events can be simple outlines of what needs to happen in the scene or it can have the scene written right out in full script format.
If I wanted to go all obsessive on it, I can have Character Arc events that run out over seasons, Story Arc events that run over multiple episodes or break each Scene event down into Beats events that could encompass only three seconds of the timeline.
You can be as loose and flowing or as tight and regimented as you desire with this. I feel that it is an invaluable tool that allows me to start with the big picture and keep tunneling down until I feel that the show, feature or novel is clear enough and well enough thought out that I won’t write myself into any dead ends.
Then I start to write.
After a script formatting word processor like Final Draft or MM Screenwriter, the next piece of writing software I would buy is StoryView. The only thing that keeps it from getting a 10 from me is that it is more complex than I think it needs to be and as such has a bit of a learning curve.
StoryView 2.0 gets a 9