Step 6 – Causality

GOAL:  Map the whole story with organic transitions
DELIVERABLES: Causality chart document that outlines the story through the main Narrative beats.

I/ Plot & Theme

By combining the PLOT and THEME key moments, you should get 10 beats that map your story through the 3 acts.

II/ Connectivity

The goal now is to have the story progress organically from beat to beat instead of having independent Key moments. You already have most of the beats, you just need to add more granularity and adjust the intensity curve. As a roadmap, use this model to map the Key moments and get the transitions from beat to beat. In orange are the pivotal moments of the story that will create the transition from one beat to another. After each of those moments, ask yourself what the Character’s motivation is. What does he want right now? What is driving his following action?

While doing this, start thinking about how each beat will be experienced, what type of gameplay, cinematic, NPCs interaction, etc.

Here is the whole map. In gray are the beats you should already have:

  • The SETUP
    • Set-Up the protagonist’s journey by identifying their “status quo”.
  • The WANT
    • What does the character WANT?
    • Once the Character knows what he wants, he has a reason to act. He starts acting toward his goal, discovers the world and tests a few things before he gets his first hiccups.
    • The first obstacle, because without an obstacle, the Character gets what we want right away and the story if over.
    • It should be a first introduction to the obstacles we will encounter later, an easy one but related.
    • What’s the key moment that sends the Protagonist into conflict?
  • PLAN
    • The TESTS are broken into 2 sections (PLAN & CHALLENGES) to get a sense of progression and increasing difficulty.
    • The Character should step into a new world, the challenges are different but the Character’s motivation is strong.
    • The Character works towards his goal, learning through his journey
    • The stakes are explicitly raised; the “ticking clock” starts and/or the antagonist puts the squeeze on our hero.
    • Need a variety of challenges, small and big. In this section, the challenges become more difficult.
    • Ultimately, the Character needs to be successful in some way before terribly failing in the next beat.
    • This is the highest point just before the lowest point.
    • Something terrible is happening to the Character.
  • The BREAK
    • What is the moment when “All is Lost” and there is no hope?
    • It’s a break in the action, a moment to reflect and understand what he did wrong. Make a decision to act differently.
    • With the newly found drive, the Character is ready to get to his goal.
    • This is the path toward the final Boss battle.
    • The character finally became what he needed to become. He learned what he had to learn. His need is fulfilled.
  • The BATTLE
    • What does the final battle between the protagonist and nemesis look like?
    • Moment of resolution.
    • The Character got what he wanted (or did not), and things are different now for the character or the world or both.
    • A new equilibrium has been created. Things are different. The protagonist, a Key NPC, or the World.

III/ Causality

There should be a link of causality from one beat to the other. “This thing happened therefore, this other thing is happening.” or “This thing is happening but, that thing is now happening.”

Finally, fill out this chart to see how your beats are linked to one another.

SETUP - Who, What, Where. What we know from before that has led us here, now.Therefore / But
WANT - What do we want? Why are we here, now?Therefore / But
DRIVE - You are moving forward because you want to…Therefore / But
ENGAGE - Moving forward in the world, going after what we want.Therefore / But
OBSTACLE - What is between us and what we wantTherefore / But
END OF ACT I REVEALTherefore / But
DRIVE - You are moving forward because you want to…Therefore / But
PLAN - We execute what we decided to do, pushing through obstaclesTherefore / But
MID POINT - Twist, turn. Stakes raisedTherefore / But
CHALLENGE - Biggest challenge so far.Therefore / But
SUCCESS - Short moment of success and encouragement, brief relief of tension.Therefore / But
BREAK REVEALTherefore / But
DRIVE - You are moving forward because you want to…Therefore / But
BREAK - Setback, criticism, crisis, defeat… things go awryTherefore / But
DRIVE - You know what to do! You are moving forward because you want to…Therefore / But
ASSAULT - Confrontation on the way to the final obstacleTherefore / But
THEMATIC REVEAL - Thematic revelationTherefore / But
CLASH - Final battle against the last obstacleTherefore / But
RESOLUTION - We reached our goal, or we have failedTherefore / But
DRIVE - You are moving forward because you want to…Therefore / But
NEW STATE - New status quo. We won; we lost, things are different now.Therefore / But

IV/ Premise update

Go back to the Premise. Is the information written down still valid? If no, write down the new one now that you know the Story better.

“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else”

Leonardo Da Vinci