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December 19, 2019

Story-building with Arc Studio Pro

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.

Accessing Your Outline

Your outline consists of beats (important events in your story) and story elements (storylines, characters, and locations). These can be accessed in two ways:

  1. Through the “Beat Box”, where you can reference your material while you work on your script.
  2. Through the “Outlining Board”, where you can fully focus on structuring your story.

First, we will cover the Outlining Board. More on the Beat Box below.

💡 Blog – How to Outline a Script: From Planning to Pantsing

Getting Started with a New Outline

When you open the board in an empty script, you can choose between:

  1. Adding your first beat
  2. Pre-populate your board with a beat template, such as “Save the Cat”.

The Board Interface

The board interface shows you your beats organized in acts. You can intuitively move these beats with drag & drop.

You can also access:

  1. Acts
  2. Beats
  3. Story elements (see below)
  4. Your beat inbox: here you can place beats that don’t have a home within your script yet
  5. Arc Mode
  6. Go back to your script

Organizing your Story Elements (Storylines, Characters, Locations)

Story Elements are:

  • Storylines
  • Characters
  • Locations

Each story element has a title, a description, and a color (for color-coding, see below). In addition you can keep track of the following information:

  1. Character image
  2. Additional images
  3. Character script name (for the script autocompleter)
  4. Character gender
  5. Character color (for color-coding)

💡 Check out: Screenwriting Exercises: Character Creation Step By Step

Building Our Plot

Having added some story elements, we can use them to build our plot. The basic flow when creating a beat outline is as follows:

  1. Enter the title of your beat
  2. Hit Tab to add a description.
  3. Type “#” to tag your story elements (see below)
  4. Hit Shift + Enter to insert a new beat below.

Tagging story elements

Here is where setting up our world pays off: When we type “#” inside a beat card, we can tag the beat with our story elements that belong to that beat. With the story elements open, use the up/down arrow keys to move through them and right-arrow to activate that element for that beat.

This will color code your beats, so you can see which elements are utilized in which section of your story: Storylines add a colored bar on the left while characters add circles on the right of your card

You can also drag & drop the beats on your board.

💡 Check out: The Three-Act Structure In Screenwriting

Use the Arc Mode to Get a Visual View on Your Story

In Arc mode, you can double click a beat marker to select a storyline and move it up or down to indicate how this beat affects your storyline, positively or negatively. Use this to get a visual overview on the dramatic structure of your story.

Reference Your Material Using the Beat Box

Once you’ve outlined your story, it is time to write. With your outline handy, you can use the beat box to reference all your material as you write:

  1. Click the beat icon next to a slugline to open the beat box for that scene’s beat.
  2. Reference the beat’s information, title and description
  3. Reference the story elements that belong to that specific beat as you work on
  4. We automatically insert a prompt for all the beats in your outline into your script, so you always know what to work on next.

Level-up your screenwriting software

With Arc Studio, you stay focused while writing your screenplay, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease.

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Story-building with Arc Studio Pro
Michail Huber

Founder and CEO at Arc Studio Pro

Level-up your screenwriting software

With Arc Studio, you stay focused while writing your screenplay, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease.

Go to Desk

Learn from the film industry’s top screenwriters

Our new podcast, How I Write: Screenwriters Share Their Creative Processes, launches Nov. 12th.

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My team used to be stressed out, now we’re focused and calm. I recommend giving Arc Studio a try.

Stefan Lukacs
Writer/Director COPS