So I've been exploring an idea about a different way to structure narratives, and in the end found it is Dramatica flipped on its side.
There's a reason for this.
Everybody will tell you stories are about conflicts. Having a problem and by the end solving it or not. But writer Ursula LeGuin thought it is NOT the only thing a story can be centered around. I agree. But she never really fully, usefully described what else it can be about, as far as I can find out amongst the essays she wrote, but she did give hints, and all stories do have conflict even though they are not the focus. There's a reason for this.
There is the poorly thought out model of the "Heroine's Journey" to look at. The problem with it is that it has mostly been described as a slightly different version of the Hero's journey. When I look at it, I see something else. It is not about conflict, but seeking meaning, seeking identity and seeking authenticity, by diving deep into the unconscious of the seeker. For this reason I will promote my reevaluation of it as "The Seeker's Journey".
The classic, prototypical Heroine's Journey is about the Goddess Inanna journeying to the underworld, representative of her unconscious, discovering meaning, and returning home to become more fully herself. Fairy tales following the Heroine's Journey would feature a female character (though there is nothing gendered about diving into one's unconscious) departing home and meeting three archetypes representative of other sides of herself. The Creator and Destroyer archetypes, in duality, and there is Preserver archetype that needs another half to be in duality with. We have dualities in all of us, with our conscious and unconscious. The archetypes are representative of both, as well as the two possibilities of the liminal space between. Several description of the Heroine's Journey refers to three archetypes, but fail to identify what the Preserver is in duality with. To me it is obvious the seeker/heroine herself is a 4th archetype, the Transformer.
The Creator and Destroyer signify a duality. The Preserver and Transformer signify another duality. In the "I" throughline it is a journey from instinctual defense of one's ego (Preserver), to the chameleonic, repressive denial of the unconscious (Destroyer), to the liminal stance between conscious and unconscious worlds where one is most vulnerable (Transformer), to finally the connected and authentic whole personality (Creator). The "We" throughline is similar, but expressed in relationship terms: Aggressive to Alienated to Vulnerable to Connected. The "You" throughline of the Impact Character journey is from Memory to Repression to Visualization (or Manifestation) to Expression.
Stories can be centered around dualities instead of conflicts. In Dramatica we see these dualities as the throughlines. It's most obvious in the Objective and Subjective throughlines. These feed each other. Reinforce each other. When you have a positive change arc in one, it is still possible for the other to be positive change as well. This is the feature of dualities in that they are NOT zero-sum. Conflicts on the other hand are zero-sum. Either the antagonist wins or the protagonist does. One side of the conflict proves true and the other false.
So it is obvious to me now that the rows and columns of a 4x4 Dramatica structure can be swapped, with the themes of the rows (Acts) swapping with the columns (throughlines). That is: in the Seeker's Journey, each throughline is half of one paired Conflict, while the Acts end in signposts for the dualities.
The Objective / Subjective duality gets squashed to a single Act in each throughline. Of course because Conflicts are zero-sum, when one throughline has a positive change arc the paired throughline will have an arc that is negative (I suspect it must be a change arc too, so cannot a steadfast arc).
The other three dualities I've discovered looking at linguistic / semantic categories, and understanding network structures. A duality has positive and negative feedback between the different halves of the duality so it can be understood like a network with positive and negative feedback.
Take the Creator and Destroyer archetypes. When focused on them, the Preserver and Transformer function as positive and negative feedback for whatever themes you are using them to represent. When focusing on the Preserver and Transformer, similarly the Creator and Destroyer function as positive and negative feedback to them. Each Duality has a Feedback Duality. In the narrative itself you'd have 4 characters that influence each other, providing light and dark mirrors contrasting with each other while also providing positive and negative influences on each other. Sometimes you need the Destroyer to destroy the MC's ego in order for the Creator aspect of the MC's personality to grow a new super-ego authentic and responsible to others than himself. Sometimes the Preserver needs to defend the Ego in order to prevent bad influences of the Trickster-like Transformer archetype. So while the Preserver and Destroyer sound like the "bad" antagonist aspect of a personality, and the Transformer and Creator are the "good", it's not that black and white.
The other dualities are: Material / Immaterial; Internal (Analytic) / External (Synthetic); and Resilience / Emergence. They each have a set of Dualities and Feedback Dualities.
I think in Hero's Journeys the MC and IC throughlines are most often of the Resilience / Emergence duality, but it can be any other one. And what we tend to call the Objective / Subjective throughlines might be misidentified often, because the "We" and "They" throughline can also be any of the other dualities. I can see how the Analytic / Synthetic duality for instance could easily be confused for being Objective / Subjective, but also be used for the MC and IC throughlines.
Anyway, some examples of stories I suspect are Seeker's Journeys would be --
Movies: The Matrix, Annihilation, Colossal, Cloud Atlas, The Last Unicorn.
TV: Mr. Robot, Orphan Black, Twin Peaks, Sense8, The OA.
Novels: A Wizard of Earthsea; The Brothers Karamazov
Some of these might not be perfect example. I have yet to fully analyze each of them, but the typical sign that you are dealing with a duality-based story in a Seeker's Journey is the use of doubles and doppelgangers. Twin Peak's brilliant third season makes it screamingly obvious. Orphan Black's clones, Cloud Atlas's reincarnated lives, The Last Unicorn's transformation from unicorn to human woman and back, etc etc etc.
Themes like nature vs nurture is an obvious duality, right? If you're plotting that into your story with Dramatica, you are probably putting them in separate throughlines. If not, they you may unintentionally be making a Seeker's Journey.
Here are some examples of conflicts and dualities to show how they related. Usually if you find two things pitted against each other you can figure out which one it is:
a. coercion vs generosity (conflict)
b. coercion vs persuasion (duality)
c. generosity vs reciprocity (duality)
d. competition vs reciprocity (conflict)
e. competition vs avarice (duality)
f. generosity vs avarice (conflict)
I'm trying to write a whole book exploring the concept of Seeker's Journeys and dualities. I've barely started on it because there are a few things I'm still working out about it to make it useful... Perfectionism vs procrastination is a duality, right?
The big one issue is that in the Seeker's Journeys the throughlines are Conflicts. How are they properly used? I feel it's on the tip of my tongue... The main thing is Seeker's Journeys allow you to separate conflicts into their halves by putting them in different throughlines, and approach a difficult subject from a point of view of seeking meaning rather than solving a problem or chasing a McGuffin. The two binary halves of the Conflict don't actually need to be in a showdown, but in parallel tracks. The full implications of that I'm wrestling with. But as I'm writing this ... I think I just figured it out!
Conflict-based stories I think of having arcs where the plot points about the plans, motivations, goals and mentalities of the characters. In the Hero's journey these play out in each throughline's arc, offering different perspectives on the story.
Duality-based stories I am currently thinking the arcs have plot points about the contexts, personas, choices and influences on the characters, forming a four-way conflict that gets played out in the four throughlines. This might seem like they are separate simultaneous stories with the same characters in different roles rather than one story with fixed roles. But my thinking is focused on 4 people (mirrors or doppelgangers for each other, one for each throughline) who each may be antagonists or protagonists who have plans, motivations, goals and mentalities of their own, in conflict. Usually in a conflict-based story there is one antagonist enacting a plan and the protagonist is reacting to it. In a seeker's journey there are 4 plans, 4 goals, etcs. They rise and fall based on the contexts, personas, choices and influences in play over the seeker's arc.
Using the above examples, the dualities and conflicts of each are:
a. coercion vs generosity -- conflict in Goals
b. coercion vs persuasion -- duality in Influences
c. generosity vs reciprocity -- duality in Choices
d. competition vs reciprocity -- conflict in Motivations
e. competition vs avarice -- duality in Choices
f. generosity vs avarice -- conflict in Goals
There's more to learn about Seeker's Journeys I imagine, but I think I have enough to write a good guide book.