G'day everyone. It's great to find such a high quality forum for discussing all things Dramatica. It's a brilliant theory and far better than any others I've ever come across. But it 'aint easy and I think it's time for me to stop going-it-alone. For a while, I thought I had nailed my storyform for a novel I'm working on. It centers around a city that's holding out against mutant hoardes that are attacking and laying siege to it. If they get in, everyone is dead. There is nowhere else on Earth to go. The well-defended city is the last safe-place left on the planet. I thought that this was easily a story where the OS throughline is situation because they're all stuck in a bad situation. But then I read comments about Aliens and Edge of Tomorrow where it was made very clear that these movies had an OS throughline of activity. I can see why now. Also, in that topic, Jim Hull suggested the following question that got me thinking: 'I would always ask "if this was removed, would there still be a problem?" '
So in my story, if the mutant hoardes weren't attacking, there would be no problem. So that must mean that it's an OS activity story, right? But I don't know if it's that clear. I keep wondering if there is a bit of spectrum where there can be siege stories that have an OS throughline of situation at one end and others that have an OS of activity at the other. Then there may be a grey area in the middle that depends on where the focus lies.
For example, in Zulu, the British are holding out against hoardes of Zulu warriors. The British defended their base against the onslaught. Asking Jim's question: if the Zulu's stopped fighting, would there still be a problem? No. In this case, it seems to me that this is an activity OS because they weren't trying to escape the base. They weren't looking for a better situation. They had no intention of moving because they were ordered to establish a base there and therefore, were defending it against attackers.
But what if they had been trying to escape the base to a better place, but were prevented by the Zulus? If the Zulus stopped fighting, again there would be no problem. (OS of activity?) But if they moved away, would there be a problem? No. They could have moved elsewhere and avoided the Zulus. Any British that move to that area would be constantly harassed by the Zulus and therefore it'd seem better to establish a base in a better spot. (OS of situation?)
So then my story- There is nowhere to flee and there are attacking hoardes. Everyone wants a better life. But resources are scarce and the people left in the city have little to live for, hope for or dream for. Even if the hoardes stop the attack, they don't have much. There is little hope of safety outside the city and the hoardes could always resume the attack later on. What they really hope for is firstly, to survive and secondly to defeat these hoardes once and for all so that they can live in a better world. So is this an OS of situation or activity? I feel it's situation. But I can see the argument for activity making inroads in my head.
And one more example- a time travel one. What if there was a siege with certain death as the outcome. Some of the characters travel back in time to alter the past so that the siege never happened? The entire situation changes for everyone (Situation), but the fact is the city is under siege (activity) and effort is required by the central characters to change the past (activity). So would this be a situation or activity?