Creating Your First Story

In this section, we'll create a small dummy story to explore the tools and major workflows. Create a new document.
Next, drag a Lane icon from the bottom icons into the work area. This creates a Lane, which is used for a Layer or an aspect of a story. A typical story might have 10 or 15 Lanes. Don't over-do Lanes, you don't need to put everything into its own lane. Just use Lanes for major categories.
Double-click the newly created Lane and call it "Bank Robbery". And double-click the old Lane, and rename it from "Main Lane" to "Relationship Arc".
Next, drag a Block into the newly created Lane.
You'll be given an option for a name and type of Block. Call it "Getting into the bank" and leave it on Story Block. Story Blocks just contain regular plot events that appear on the timeline. Subtext Blocks are an advanced technique for emotions, themes and concepts that you mix into events to give them feeling and color. Don't worry about that now.
You'll now have a blank Block called "Getting into the bank". Drag the edges to stretch it out:
Now let's add some plot. We'll be dragging in Beats from the bottom to create things that happen. Notice that at the same time, an empty Snippet is created:
Click the newly created Beat. Give it the name "Getting past the security guard at the entrance".
Let's create another Beat. This time, double-click in the empty space in the Block. Let's call the Beat "Phone in a terrorist threat".
Notice how the Whiteboard goes left to right. Since "Getting past the security guard at the entrance" is to the left of "Phone in a terrorist threat", it happens before it in the script.
Let's try to swap the order. Click "Phone in a terrorist threat", and drag it to the left of "Getting past the security guard at the entrance".
Notice how the order now changes in the script:
The positions in the Whiteboard and in the Script are always correlated. So let's swap their order again in the Script and watch the Whiteboard update.
Click the title of the "Phone in a terrorist threat" Snippet, and drag it to under "Getting past the security guard at the entrance". Notice the highlight on the bottom edge of the second Snippet, which shows which edge you're dropping the Snippet on.
Immediately, the Whiteboard rearranges to match:
The Script and the Whiteboard are completely correlated. Let's push this a little further by creating some more plot, but this time, we'll create Snippets instead of Beats.
Right-click in the title of "Phone in a terrorist threat" and select Insert Snippet:
This creates a new Snippet before it. Double-click the title, and name it "Secretly jam the door":
Notice how a Beat was also automatically created on the Whiteboard. It doesn't matter where you create things or move them around, they're always in sync:
Next, let's learn about Groups. Groups are simply containers for a bunch of Beats that go together, usually a sequence of events. This allows you to handle those events as a single unit, and it creates a more neat and compact Whiteboard layout. This example is from the sample script Fate:
In our story, let's drag in a Group from the toolbar and place it after the current plot:
This creates an empty Group immediately after the current plot. After creating it, double-click it and rename it to "The vault":
There are multiple ways to put Beats into Groups. You can of course drag in Beats from the toolbar. You can also double-click in the group to create the first Beat. Let's create a Beat called, "Enable magnetic pulse to jam cameras".
In groups, you can also create Beats by pressing Enter or Shift-Enter. Enter creates Beats after the selected Beat. Shift-Enter creates Beats before. Let's press Enter, and create a Beat called "Shoot the guard".
Now click the "Enable magnetic pulse to jam cameras" Beat and press Shift-Enter, then create a prior Beat called "Retrieve hidden bag of explosives".
Next, let's turn our attention to the Lane called "Relationship Arc". Let's double-click the title of "First Block", and rename it to "The relationship sours". Then double-click the Beat "First Beat" and rename it to "Janet grunts at Michael for having forgotten some tool":
Next, let's expand the right edge of the Block, and drag in some more Beats that relate to the friction in their relationship:
We've now started building a parallel storyline of the evolution of their relationship, and we'll now work on intercutting it with the other plot.
First, let's use the Push tool to open up some space before "Phone in a terrorist threat". As we talked about in Basic Concepts, the Push tool pushes everything in front of a certain object if you hold Cmd (Mac) / Ctrl (Win) while dragging it:
After the push, there's now more space after "Secretly jam the door". In the "The relationship sours" Block, let's now drag the Beat "Janet grunts at Michael..." into that expanded space.
If you look in the Script, the "The relationship sours" storyline is now intercutting with "Getting into the bank". Let's go ahead and write some of the screenplay for it:
Let's do another intercut. In the Group called "The vault", select "Enable magnetic pulse to jam cameras", and Cmd/Ctrl-drag it to the right to open up space. Pushing works everywhere, including inside Groups:
And let's now move the "Michael asks Janet to pick up..." Beat to intercut with that gap in the Group:
If we check out the Script, this is how the story flows now. Let's again write some text for it:
So there you have it, a quick little story that took us on a small tour. We learned to:
  • Create Lanes by dragging them in from the toolbar and renaming them.
  • Create Blocks, rename them, and stretch their edges.
  • Create Beats by dragging them in or by double-clicking.
  • Create Groups, and creating Beats in them either by dragging them in, or using Enter or Shift-Enter to create new Beats before or after.
  • Handle multiple, concurrent storylines.
  • Cmd/Ctrl-drag to open up space, including Cmd/Ctrl-dragging items in Groups.
  • Positioning Beats horizontally to change the sequence.
  • Writing text whenever we have an idea for it.