Outlining can be a chore, the homework you have to finish before you get to play. With Arc Studio Pro, outlining becomes fun: Collect your ideas, play with your structure and see how it affects your story. In this guide, we will show you how to use this powerful tool effectively.
Meet the Outlining Interface
You access the outlining tools from the sidebar by clicking on – surprise – “Outline”. This will open the sidebar, where you can reference your material while you write or quickly add notes. To focus on your outline, switch to Board view.
The board view presents your Story World next to your beat inbox and your acts or sequences. More on this below.
As writers, we’re never short on ideas. What makes writing hard is structuring and distilling them into a cohesive story. Arc Studio Pro offers an intuitive way to collect the main story elements, so that you have them available for building your world and your story. These elements are:
- Plots & Arcs
All three kinds of elements are collected in the “World Area”. Here is an article on how these story elements work together to make up a compelling story.
Plots & Arcs
Plots and Arcs represent the main storylines of your film or TV show. For each storyline, establish the premise in the title. In the content field below, take notes on your plot and especially on the theme or moral argument. You can also set a custom color – these colors will become important later, as we color-code our beats.
Here we can take notes on our characters – their personalities, wants & needs, and other dramatic characteristics. We can also set their gender, upload a photo for visual inspiration and set a color for easy identification.
Building Your Plot
Once you’ve collected your basic story elements, you can start to work on your plot. Usually you’ll want to add three to five act columns to organize your beats. We will add four to accommodate three acts, with the second one split at the midpoint.
+ at the top of the act to add a new beat. Once you added a title, you can hit tab to add a description, and
# to tag related story elements: Tag the characters that appear in the beat and the storylines that are affected. The beat will be color coded accordingly, so you see which plots are handled where at a glance. When you’re done, hit
Shift + Enter to insert a new beat below the current one. These shortcuts will keep you in the flow, so you can quickly build your outline.
Of course, you can always drag & drop any beat to any position to quickly and intuitively play with your outline. You can also focus on a specific character’s development by using the spotlight function:
This should give you enough information to get started on your outline. Remember:
- Take notes on your story elements, e.g. characters and plots
- Organize beats in 3-5 act columns
- Add beats quickly using
Shift + Enter
- If you don’t know where to place a beat yet, add it to the inbox
- Drag & drop beats to play with your structure