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:
- Through the “Beat Box”, where you can reference your material while you work on your script.
- 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.
Getting Started with a New Outline
When you open the board in an empty script, you can choose between:
- Adding your first beat
- 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:
- Story elements (see below)
- Your beat inbox: here you can place beats that don’t have a home within your script yet
- Arc Mode
- Go back to your script
Organizing your Story Elements (Storylines, Characters, Locations)
Story Elements are:
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:
- Character image
- Additional images
- Character script name (for the script autocompleter)
- Character gender
- Character color (for color-coding)
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:
- Enter the title of your beat
- Hit Tab to add a description.
- Type “#” to tag your story elements (see below)
- 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:
- Click the beat icon next to a slugline to open the beat box for that scene’s beat.
- Reference the beat’s information, title and description
- Reference the story elements that belong to that specific beat as you work on
- We automatically insert a prompt for all the beats in your outline into your script, so you always know what to work on next.
This should give you enough information to get started on your outline.