A Double Rainbow of Understanding

I am freaking out right now, but in the best way possible. I’ve been trying to revise this novel for years now, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been looking to Dramatica to help me figure out what’s actually missing form the story and what needs to be adjusted or rearranged. But I’ve been having trouble finding the right storyform (as you can probably tell from some of my other posts). I finally found one that I’m very happy with the other day, and I’ve been working on trying to identify the different concerns and issues in the story. Then I thought back to one of @jhull’s recent responses on the board, and looked at it again today. I used his example of PRCO and the opening scene he wrote about as a kind of guide for figuring out where the elements come up in my own story. And I just realized another reason why I’ve been having so much trouble when it comes to finding the storyform.

It turns out that I’ve been looking at my story and trying to match the events of the story to the elements, variations, and concerns of the storyform – without taking storyweaving into account. As I was looking at how the elements under the variations for my first Overall Story signpost could be illustrated in my specific story, I was seeing where the dramatic circuits where happening, and even how one quad was leading to the next. But in the back of my head, I kept saying, “Yeah, this is all in the story, but it happens before the story starts.” It wasn’t until I got to the Current of the second quad that I started seeing the actual “beginning” of my story. And once I got to the third quad, it finally dawned on me. I’ve been looking at storyweaving and trying to make it fit the plot progression exactly, only to wonder why none of my scenes and sequences and acts fit the storyform.

This has been driving me nuts, because I was getting down on myself for writing such a broken story. Yet, it finally dawned on me that there had to be some kind of argument to my story, because people keep… liking… it… :confused:

So I took some advice from a writer friend and looked at the themes that my beta readers where getting from reading the story. And not only was I able to find the right storyform, but in looking more closely – and objectively – at the first three variations in the Overall Story, I was able to see that, contrary to my lamenting, I do have all four throughlines in place. I simply need to make them more cohesive within the story.

So… yeah… I am super excited right now. Just thought I’d share, in case anyone else needs some inspiration or something.


Cool, just happened to me last week, that I realized that I need two storyforms, after I understood I should not mix story forming with weaving. Now it’s pretty clear, first you build your argument, then you build your story. It’s properly as it is always with something new, you are so excited that you jump right in and want to start writing.

One open question on this: How do you weave the part which is before or comes after your story form, which isn’t part of the argument but you still want to show? Do you use any of the Dramatica quads, to make sure you somehow stay in the same theme/ realm? Or do you just follow the usual scene structure?

That is a great question, but I’m not sure I have an answer for it. I’m not sure where the parts of my story that aren’t part of the storyform are yet, or if I actually have any.

But if I had to guess, I would think that at some point, those parts would fall into a quad anyway, since the elements and variations and the like are somehow… universal (I think). The thing that comes to mind for me is the setting up of the normal world, which doesn’t seem like it would be part of the storyform. Yet, in my case, I could see where different elements would show up in that part of the story, even though it’s stuff that happens before the Initial Driver. After all, part of the Main Character’s growth is dealing with their crucial element, so it makes sense that it would show up in the character’s normal world.

So for instance, if my Main Character’s crucial element was Result, and the MC Concern in the storyform was Impulsive Responses, I think it might be cool to show a more “mundane” version of that quad happening in the Main Character’s normal world while setting up the story. Then, when it shows up in the storyform itself, it could either serve as a payoff or as a way to show that the Main Character is actually changing in small ways, but not quite enough to get them over the hump that is the leap of faith.

Then again, I could be totally wrong, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

This is really great. Thanks so much for sharing!

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You kind of rock. Great note.

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I actually have some questions about this now.

I’m realizing that, because I wrote the story with most of the focus being on the Main Character, a lot of the events that make up the scenes of the Overall Story appear to be happening in the background, and only come to the foreground during key events that affect the Main Character. Is that… okay to do? I mean, as long as the OS events are there, does the way that they’re woven into the story diminish their effect?

My other question involves the Main Character/Protagonist. I know that, for the Overall Story, the goal is the Concern, even if, subjectively speaking, the characters are focused on pursuing something else. In finding the storyform that best fits my story, the OS Concern is Innermost Desires, which I’ve decided means that the protagonist is trying to stop the antagonist from preying on people’s fears. She ends up doing this with a big display that fits the gist of “experiencing rapture”.

However, I’m starting to get concerned because, while she is technically moving towards this goal, and the actions that she takes in regards to the Overall Story are moving the plot towards this end, she’s not really thinking of it in that way. So does that mean that she’s not actually the protagonist, or is she still the protagonist in the objective sense because she’s actively pursuing the thing that would allow her to achieve the goal of “experiencing rapture” in the Overall Story?

I know what you mean!

Fortunately, I had read Armando’s screenwriting book where he was talking about storyweaving and how to hide portions of throughlines until the end for the big reveal. So, I was prepared to do that.

Even so, as I’ve been outlining with my storyform, it’s all out in front of my eyes and my mind is rebelling against knowing everything right up front. I then reassure myself I’ll be moving things around in good time. That seems to settle me down a bit.


What do you, as Author, think about her role as Protagonist?

That’s all that matters.