Long Plot Sequence/PRCO question.
Hi everyone. I’ve been using Dramatica for quite some time (since version 1) and I find the theory to be endlessly fascinating as well as one of the best brainstorming tools I’ve ever come across. I’m principally a screenwriter with a script in development as a part of the 2018 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. I used Dramatica to create it so I know it works!
I’ve recently been studying James Hull’s ideas about PRCO/TKAD as it relates to scene construction and I love the way it integrates into the existing PSR framework. It’s truly like the missing link for Dramatica users.
Recognizing there are many ways to approach a story, I’m a disciple of Armando’s ideas about Plot Sequence Report. I find it’s the easiest way to lay out a story and I use it in a myriad of ways to brainstorm my outline. It’s wonderful that PRCO/TKAD merges seamlessly with the Plot sequence report to better inform my story at the scene and event level. However, it’s also true that a document with that much information can be cumbersome. So, in order to speed up the outline construction process, I created a document which I’d love to share with the group when I get upload privileges.
Dramatica Variations by Quad with Associated Elements for PRCO/TKAD
This simple doc lays out the all the relevant variation quads in their dynamic order so they can easily be tailored to any PSR. I also included the related elements below each variation with definitions (from the Dramatica dictionary) in tow. Like many others I find I’m always re-learning the definitions so it’s helpful to have them handy in the actual document. A key part of writing is task continuity so it doesn’t pay to keep stopping to look stuff up. I'll upload it when I have access.
My question about the PSR and PRCO information surround the usage in a Z pattern sequence.
(note for conversation-sake, I’m considering an arrangement like -
Security to Threat
As a ‘sequence’ in the classical sense that the term refers to a group of scenes advancing a Signpost. I know other people use it differently, but for the sake of this question, let’s just say that’s how I approach it.
Using the addition of the PRCO/TKAD for each variation my sequence might look like:
Fact: belief in something real
• Proven - a rating of knowledge based on corroboration
• Unproven - a rating of knowledge that has not been tested
• Accurate - being within tolerances
• Non-accurate - not within tolerances
Security: an evaluation of one's defenses and protections
• Effect - the specific outcome forced by a cause
• Cause - the specific circumstances that lead to an effect
• Result - the ramifications of a specific effect
• Process - the mechanism through which a cause leads to an effect
Threat: an evaluation of potential negative forces
• Theory - an unbroken chain of relationships leading from a premise to a conclusion
• Hunch - a conclusion based on intuition
• Expectation - a conclusion as to the eventual effect of a particular cause
• Determination - a conclusion as to the cause behind a particular effect
Fantasy: belief in something unreal
• Trust - an acceptance of knowledge as proven without first testing its validity
• Test - a trial to determine something's validity
• Ending - coming to a conclusion
• Unending - a continuance without cessation
And that seems very clear. But the difficulty I encounter when using this process is the middle scene Security to Threat. This kind of slide scene is very frequent in the PSR. But using the PRCO/TKAD method often results in a bulging middle scene in a sequence as I try to incorporate all of the elements.
Now, in truth, I usually just pick and choose between the relevant elements for my scene. It doesn’t pay to have every middle scene in a Z pattern running long.
But, mostly out of curiosity, I’m looking for best practices/advice to combine the corresponding elements for both Security AND Threat in a scene. While I expect that there may be many ways to answer this question, I would love to know what you all may have found.
Some combinations I’ve tried.
- Pick one or the other (Security OR Threat.) This seems obvious and I very often find one of the variations isn’t necessary.
- Combine the two and use the slide as the scene’s mid-point. As I mentioned above this results in very long scene and it calls into question the nature of a “complete scene” since technically the arc of the scene now has two PRCO/TKAD element sets.
- Action/Reaction - Divide each event into action and reaction beats that contain the elements dynamically. This can be a fun and fast way to work all the info into a scene.
• Potential - Effect vs Cause
• Resistance - Result vs Process
• Current - Theory vs Hunch
• Outcome - Expectation vs Determination
- Mix and Match - Just grab elements that seem like they work for the scene from each variation’s elements and create the transition.
While I know this may be overthinking the process, rest assured I love to use this to brainstorm my scenes and I get a lot out of the method. But with so many other facets of this theory taking definite employable forms, I suspect there may a smart way to approach the info on the scene level.
And, of course, if the answer is just a general “it’s up to you, every story is different” that’s acceptable as well. In that case, please just consider this lengthy question as an expression of my fascination with the theory overall.
Many Thanks and Happy Writing