Where did the concept of multiple parallel plotlines (that may or may not interact and converge) originate? These days they're also known as throughlines, subplots, narrative/character arcs, series.

I know it is quite an intuitive thing, but I would really like to know the first recorded instance of someone talking about it/teaching the tabular method (each row/column is an arc and each column/row is a point in time-> usually divided into Acts or chapters). In fact, I can't find any book at all that discusses this tabular method.


1 Answer 1


A Wikipedia article for through line explaines that Konstantin Stanislavsky suggested the concept in his method of training actors, the "Stanislavski system", at the beginning of the 20th century.

Using Google book search brings up about 234.000 results.

If you search for "through line stanislavski" – everyone except Wikipedia seems to write his name with an "i" at the end –, you will find a plethora of articles that explain Stanislavski's concept in detail and give references to his writings.

The concept of throughlines is one foundation for the theory behind the story writing software Dramatica Story Expert. Here is a diagram visualizing throughlines as conceptualized by the authors of Dramatica:

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