I’m writing this post because I want to share something I did that, for me, resulted in a much deeper understanding of Dramatica, and how much it really is about the subtext of the story. It also had the benefit of helping me finally figure out the Storyform for one of the books I’ve been working on.
Be warned, though, it is very Linear in approach. Here goes.
So, the first thing I did was take an empty sheet of paper, and write in big letters at the top:
From the Author’s Perspective:
Next, I wrote a key points list, focused at the broad scope, as shown below. I started with the top level and filled it out, then figured out wording for key points for each level. However, I ignored some options, mostly because I knew that I would have been too far into my character’s heads to fill them out correctly.
You can see the list of key points and the wording I chose for them below, with some filled out.
What They are dealing with - The realization that the world, even if split, is more than spirit or human.
What I am dealing with - The apparent truth of myths and legends I once viewed only as stories.
What You are dealing with - The experiences found as a spirit animal that you once claimed.
What We are dealing with - The differing mindsets we have about life, and how we should live, overall.
What They are most concerned with - Whether and how humans could affect their lives, and vice versa.
What I am most concerned with - Trying to understand how these myths apply to what I’ve fallen into.
What You are most concerned with - Learning how to handle your new form, and all that it can do.
What We are most concerned with - How our differing thoughts will affect our friendship long term.
What major issue They must face -
What major issue I must face -
What major issue You must face -
What major issue We must face -
What They see as the problem -
What They are trying to do to fix things -
What I am trying to do to fix things -
What You are driven by -
What You are doing to try to fix things -
What You need to actually fix things -
What We are doing to to fix things -
Now, I’m not going to fill out each part with my whole story on here, but I did do that on my own.
I’m certain the aficionados on the forum will recognize those key points for what they actually are in the theory, but the main idea was to get mostly away from toying with Dramatica and/or Subtext and focus on the story itself. I hadn’t been able to do that easily, until I tried this.
What I found interesting about this approach, though, is that it made it easier to force myself to have a certain amount of context before I even used the Dramatica program. In fact, I wouldn’t allow myself to make any selection in Dramatica until I had filled out at least one question for each of They, I, You, and We at that level. This sort of forced me to consider the limitations posed by the theory/program when I made choices. For example, the RS/OS dynamic pair at the Class level, or the scope of Concerns for each Throughline.
Funnier still, and probably because of that set of forced operations, is that when I got down to the Element level, I was forced into a quad that I generally avoided in previous attempts. I had been avoiding that quad because I hadn’t really had any understanding of some of the terms in it. (The Production/Reduction pair.) Having the different key points, in what I perceived as more accessible questions, really helped, though. I would just answer the questions I knew, and select the items that matched up, keeping that same limitation mentioned. I then used the gists to come up with ways of answering the rest.
In fact, I’ve now uploaded the form to Subtext and am having a load of fun writing the actual outline. And, I truly get that “scary predictivity” that some people have mentioned. I hadn’t even looked at the IC Signpost order until today, but the predicted order, and the random gists… I don’t even have to change them!
I’m also finding that throughout my outline of the OS, I’ve consistently used synonyms for the Focus and Direction of the OS (Probability and Possibility) without even really meaning to. Just to test it out, I even tried to write a portion of the outline without referring to these in any way, and I couldn’t!
Addendum: This is meta. The OS problem/solution in my story is Production/Reduction and the Focus/Direction is Probability/Possibility. The ending is Failure; they don’t use Reduction. — I did…