I'm really gaining traction using the quads, writing from them, and it's interesting to consider/reconsider why this works so well.
I'm reading Stephen Pinker's Words and Rules, and was reminded of Hume's point, so far unimproved on, that human beings connect ideas in 3, and only 3, ways:
2 Cause and effect
Resemblance, one thing looks like another thing, and how do we feel about that, is handled in narrative with recognitions, cases of mistaken identity and so on, stuff that goes as far back as the Greek playwrights.
Cause and effect, well, that's our bread and butter, including in Dramatica. One damn thing leads to another, and Aphrodite (she's beautiful but flighty, she doesn't wear a nighty but she's good enough for me) help you if you get in the way of the oncoming train. When Armando recommends deploying the z-pattern and thinking about well, what led to this, and what does this lead to, he’s talking about cause and effect.
Contiguity is what caught my attention this morning. This simply means, one thing gets placed near another thing, and over time we associate them because we get used to it. The argument is, words are symbols without inherent meaning. The sound 'car' could mean boy; it just doesn't happen to in English, for reasons lost to history that have nothing to do with anything internal to the language. A dog making that dog noise we all know is called "bark" in English but "gong gong" in Indonesia and "boo boo" in Japan. The assignment of meaning to sound is conventional, historically contingent and arbitrary. Saussure in his founding of semiotics referred to this as the 'arbitrary sign'.
This led me to think about working through a quad, an organization of kind of substructure. So first you have the substructure, the emotions it creates and our spontaneous associations, and rational calculations, that are our responses as writers.
It’s been somewhat mysterious to me why Dramatica works as well as it does. Yes, yes, our subconscious responds and so on, but I’m not much for hocus pocus or handwaving. I like to know what’s going on.
It occurred to me this morning that what’s going on is contiguity. We’re expressing story bits and associate them with these great symphonic undercurrents that underlie a story, as described by Dramatica, as if the story bits were riding a huge wave of music or a river (and I claim not to be much for hocus pocus.) Anyway, that’s what it feels like. It works because of contiguity and juxtaposition.
For example, one of my characters really likes to steal things and isn’t remotely apologetic about it and doesn’t drive within ten miles of Remorse County. And it occurred to me this is working in the story because of it’s juxtaposition near, and coloring by, the variations and elements it’s near. After all, what's the relationship of a boat to a river? When we place stealing next to a variation that it’s not used to being near, but then justify it and rationalize it consciously through other means, we can get some very interesting fiction.
Some early thoughts, still mulling this through a bit.
Another thought - the contiguity principle is present in the PSR -- juxtaposing the elements in a PSR quad to a variation on the through-line. You imbue something with theme by placing one thing near another thing. Sure, in a detective story the reader puts two and two together, or the author does it for them; but in other stories, isn't it true that we just accept the proximity of two things because of the power of the author saying it's so? Thinking of the thoughts on Propaganda in the Dramatica theory book here.