A story with a minimal MC or no MC at all. Can that work?


I am thinking about a story, where a lot happens in OS terms.
The IC’s are also interesting and the RS to the MC also.
Several places to visit, several problems occur along the way.

To illustrate all that, I have a kid following a journey.
That kid is moved on from place to place, by the different IC people.
But the kid is basically a passenger, a vehicle to show what is happening in the OS.
So that is only a player in Dramatica terms, if I understand it correctly.

The people that move the kid, are players in their particular place where they are working and not moving, illustrating some IC characteristics.
And there isn’t (yet?) a change versus steadfast arc between the IC’s and the MC.
The kid accepts what is happening.

A story without an MC seems strange to me.
But a story missing a conflict is a tale.

The only thing I can come up with now, is perhaps Forrest Gump, which has Jenny, Bubba and Dan as IC’s.
Or Oliver Twist from Charles Dickens seems also possible (not sure if that is Dramatica proven Grand Argument Story)

I was wondering if that is possible, and if there are examples.
Or should the MC not be a person perhaps but a system, government, worldview? Would that work?

Any thoughts or help is appreciated very much.


I doubt that would work – none of those things seem like a personal point of view.

Just a thought, but if there is a storyform to Oliver Twist I suspect it has Oliver as a Steadfast character who in spite of his situation and the pressures of the criminal element around him never loses his virtue. He seems passive – but I think the point is that he is Steadfast.

Forrest Gump is Steadfast also. I wonder if that’s what you’re looking for? Do one or more of your IC characters change?

The setting is a war setting, world War 2. And to show the resistance against the suppressor a "chain of people " rescue a child. These people are against the Germans. And these people are determined to succeed in their actions.
I thought these "chain of people " can function as IC. But this is all still OS story, as far as I can see it.

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Have you seen the analysis of Stalag 17? It has a group MC – would that fit your “chain of people” idea? (Coincidentally it’s also WWII!)

Stalag 17 Recap - Narrative First
Stalag 17 - Dramatica Users Group


Technically, the MC throughline is a perspective, not a character, so you could have as many players as you like representing it over the course of your story. But if you’re already splitting up your IC role between several different players, I wouldn’t recommend doing the same with your MC. You want to give your audience something solid to hold onto, after all.

That said, there are plenty of stories where the MC has a minimal role/effect on the happenings of the OS. Think Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, or Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. The MC Throughline should definitely be present in your story, but how much emphasis you place on it is up to you.


I can’t think of a movie but The Glass Hotel by Emily St Johns Mandel could fit. The novel has one MC (Vincent) but moves around showing us moments in the lives of different characters. At times it isn’t really clear how they are connected and in the end, it’s a Ponzi scheme that connects them, not really the MC. Vincent only brushes past the lives of the others because of her workplace and her faux-marriage with the instigator of the Ponzi scheme.
Not sure how the novel would fare in terms of Dramatica but I felt it did a good job of focusing on the players within a story rather than on a fixed plot.

I don’t totally understand what you are doing, but:
Leviathan has no MC. It has only an OS.
Meet The Fockers feels like it has no MC, yet has an IC. I can’t explain it any other way, except that the people involved were probabably thinking in terms of an A-Story and a B-Story.

I think it would be hard to have the MC be a system because we can’t crawl inside and wear a system as our skin very easily.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what it means to have an IC without an MC because who are they challenging?

@Audz gives great advice about the novels with minimal MCs. Maybe the child is your MC and you just make her role tiny.

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It did in Tenet. /snark :smiley:

I’ve tried a minimal MC, but that didn’t worked the way I wanted. I’ve made the child a player in the OS The mother became the MC, and one of the rescuers the IC. Now I have to see what the “story jury” thinks about it. :slight_smile:

Isn’t this where audience reception could come in? Wouldn’t the audience automatically make the IC the MC for viewing sense? Sometimes, viewers of a film had seen a different story, as they exited the theater.

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Audience reception is more about how they understand the illustrations. Someone growing up in Orthodox Brooklyn will understand a kippah to mean something; someone from the island of Tuvalu might see it as fashion.

Not really, because they won’t latch emotionally the same way. It’s still a you perspective.

Yes, because of audience reception and many other reasons. Non-Grand Argument Stories are the most susceptible to interpretation.

Are you referring to an omniscient point of view? The Lemony Snicket books and the Bridgerton series come to mind. It’s used mostly in older books, and has a narrator who’s not invested in the story but tells what everyone is doing and thinking.