So something I’ve been pondering is how the Class level feels like a problem while the Element/Problem level does not.
Both are a source of conflict, but at the Class level we are dealing with Purpose, or a desired and intended result. Since I typically think in terms of source of conflict, I might look at Universe and illustrate it as something like “a giant meteor headed toward earth causes society to break down”. That gives me a Universe source of conflict, but says nothing about the Purpose of the story. In order to illustrate that Purpose, then, I figure I need to address that desired and intended result. Is the purpose of the story to deflect the meteor? To get out of its way? To survive the collision between it and the earth? I need something like “With a giant meteor headed toward earth, society breaks down until the meteor is deflected, or until everyone gets relocated to Mars, etc”. Something to that effect. Now we know not only why society is breaking down, but also what direction this story wants to move. And the source of conflict of this level combined with the purpose of the story is, I think, what makes this level feel like a problem that needs dealt with.
Move down to Concern and things take a quarter turn. We are still dealing with sources of conflict, but not Purpose. Now we’re dealing with Methodology.
Move down to Issues and we have another quarter turn and get source of conflict combined with Evaluations.
And finally, move down to Element and we have the final quarter turn and we get source of conflict mixed with Motivation, or the underlying given which drives a character. Like Purpose, Motivation helps add direction to the source of conflict. But unlike Purpose, it doesn’t give the direction of a result but the direction of the efforts. For instance, one might be driven toward Proaction or away from Proaction. Either way Proaction (or the lack thereof) is the source of conflict, but the character may be driven to find more of that element or less.
Anyway, this combination of source of conflict with being driven by something I think makes the Problem feel AT TIMES more like an attempt at a solution by or for the character.
As a very minor bit of evidence, I’ll point to Miguel (Coco). Miguel, whose family hates music, is driven toward Proaction. When he doesn’t have a guitar for the upcoming show and can’t find one, he takes action and grabs a guitar from the mausoleum. If he needs a guitar, how can taking action to get one be anything other than a solution? Because being driven to take action by stealing the guitar causes him to be cursed.
And just as with Purpose, I think adding Motivation to the illustration will only serve to tell us more about our story. If we know Miguel is driven toward or by an abundance of Proaction, we know that taking action to get a guitar is what will cause him to stumble into a curse. Compare what this might look like to a Miguel who was driven away from or by a lack of Proaction and never gets to play music because he isn’t proactive enough to get a guitar, I guess.
I know that these concepts aren’t all new on their own. We already know that Problem is seen as a source of drive, for instance. We already know about the ability to have an abundance or lack of an element. But I think learning to look at what the characters are moving toward or away from in an attempt to fix their issues at a motivation level-and to see the equivalent at other levels-can both assist in the illustrating of story points and potentially increase ones ability to analyze stories to find correct storyforms.