Acts order (Types) and Influence Character's impact


I’m new to Dramatica, and I have a couple of simple questions for starters.

I’m looking at the part where each “act” is supposed to explore one of the 4 Class Types. One of these Types however has a special significance; it’s the throughline’s Concern. Is that specific Type supposed to come last, as a sort of aim or final destination, or can the 4 Types be explored in whichever order the author chooses? (Not looking for an absolute rule here, but any opinion you might have on what makes more sense or what is more common, for whatever reason.)

Also, the theme of the IC throughline is repeatedly defined around the impact the IC has on the MC. In the case of a Steadfast MC, though, it’s the IC who changes under the MC’s influence, right? So, when I’m trying to define theme, can I switch the phrasing to “the impact the MC has on the IC” in my mind for clarity? Would that still be a correct way to understand Dramatica?

Here’s an example, going back to Types in the 4 acts of my IC throughline : I’ve classified the throughline as Manipulation/Thought processes, which means I’m working with Being, Becoming, Conceptualizing and Conceiving.

Initially I was trying to come up with ways in which the IC impacted my MC’s being, becoming, etc. But, since out of the pair it’s the IC who’s undergoing a transformation, it seems to make more sense to think of the ways in which the MC forces the IC to develop a plan, conceive an idea, play a role, then change his nature. It fits better with my story such as it is, anyway (already drafted, needs fixing).

Last one: please let me know if I’m not posting this in the appropriate category. I picked one to the best of my understanding, but I’m still not sure!

And thank you for all and any replies. :smiley:

No – you need to explore them in the correct order for the argument your story is making (the story’s meaning). That order is determined by the storyform, and you need the Dramatica software to figure it out.

No, the Influence Character throughline is still all about the IC’s impact on the MC and others. For a Steadfast MC, think of this influence as the tempering fire of a forge that weakens the MC temporarily, but eventually hardens their resolve.

In terms of what influences a Changed IC to change their perspective, I look at it more as a holistic thing that you can’t really pin down. The MC is just a part of that.

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And welcome to Discuss Dramatica! :slight_smile: It can be a steep learning curve especially at the beginning, but there are lots of friendly folks on here ready to help.


To add to what @mlucas said, the Concern is something that best thought of as something that drives conflict throughout the story whereas the Signposts are plot points that happen sequentially as you move through the story. The Story Goal, meanwhile, is the same type as the OS Concern. This too is a static story point that pervades the whole story.

So in Romeo and Juliet, the OS Concern is Doing – the two families keep fighting with each other, and this causes conflict for everyone in the town; also Romeo and Juliet run off together, sneak around (Doing) which causes problems for everyone. In this case, the illustration of the Story Goal would be something like “stopping the fighting” (Doing).

But if you were to look at the plot, it would go Learning -> Understanding -> Doing -> Obtaining. I can’t remember all of the exact plot points, but the final ones would probably be something like Romeo killing Tybalt (Doing) which leads to him being banished and eventually his and Juliet’s suicides (Obtaining). Juliet’s impending marriage to Paris is also a source of Obtaining conflict toward the end of the story.

Then, at the very end of the story, the Prince declares the fighting between families over, so Goal achieved (Success), but tragically (Bad).

Thank you! Okay, then, I will plough on with my discovery of the software. :slight_smile:

And I actually ran into something that adressed the impact question on the forums shortly after posting this… So I think I’m clearer now. I must not think about their interaction as “how the MC transforms the IC”, but rather something like “how the IC’s transformation helps and vindicates the MC’s resolve” (this also fits my story).

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Yes, the throughline Concerns and the Signposts are two different aspects of plot. They just use the same level of theme (Types). I see that; I suppose I just wondered how they relate to each other, if at all. But maybe the answer is “a computer can figure it out by factoring in other elements”. :slight_smile:

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Welcome @Jeanne1. It’s a great place to learn about story. Best paradigm, I think.

Concerns are a spatial appreciation. Signposts are a temporal appreciation.


The Concern isn’t explored in sequence with Signposts. It’s separate from them. As a spatial appreciation of this level, the Concern is explored across the entire throughline. As a temporal exploration, the Signposts are explored in a particular sequence.

We don’t have a personal view of the IC, so we may or may not see what gets the IC to change. It could take place on screen or off.

The reason an MC changes or remains steadfast is because their justifications are torn down or built up. The MC changes because it looks at the IC and the energy the IC creates by taking an opposing worldview, and the MC uses that to tear down their own justifications.

But the IC isn’t looking at the MC for reasons to tear down their own justifications. The ICs sole purpose is to influence the MC to do that. So when the MC builds up their justifications enough to remain steadfast, the ICs job is done. They no longer need to take an opposing view.

The reason the IC changes, then, is because the MC and IC are both perspectives of a single human mind. The MC and IC taking opposing views represents that mind trying to decide how to deal with an inequity. The mind is saying “I could do it this way, or I could do it that way”. When the mind decides how it wants to deal with the inequity, it has fortified one set of justifications while tearing down the other. It’s like the mind is saying “my choice is to approach the inequity this way”, and because it is no longer trying to decide, the MC and and IC no longer need to take opposing views. If the MC remains steadfast, the IC will change to represent that the mind has made it’s choice, it’s justifications are worked out, and both perspectives are in alignment.


Thanks guys! And yeah, that spatial/temporal distinction makes sense.

I’ve looked at a few analyses from the Dramatica website, and that has clarified my first question (no, the order of the Signposts doesn’t correlate in any straightforward way to the choice of Concern).

However, reading the one of The Fugitive, the explanation of the IC throughline does exactly what I meant in my initial suggestion: it centers the IC, his feelings, his goals and the way he changes under the influence of the MC. His Concern, Becoming, is explained via his potential/fear of becoming someone else. (The story points I have so far for my story seem to match many from that movie.)

So, is that analysis off-base?

I think one of the difficulties of analyzing some works is they often contain at least parts of subplots. A story according to Dramatica has only one MC, but it’s not rare, especially in movies, to convey information by giving you a peek into another character’s POV, which by definition would make them an MC in their own story (but that story is not necessarily all there as a full argument). Maybe that’s why we’re tempted to explain their throughline through their POV, because the work itself gave us access to it.

Edit to add the link for reference:

A lot of the comprehensive analyses, particular in many of the Storytelling examples, fail to adequately portray the Storypoint in question. You’ll find examples where Steadfast Main Characters “change” at the end of a story, and stories where the Overall Story Solution comes into play regardless of the Story Outcome of Failure (both examples run counter to theoretical concepts).

The included storyform for Toy Story goes one step further by declaring Woody a Changed Main Character (he’s not). The one for Reservoir Dogs is off in terms of specific Elements.

Save for Lord of the Flies, Sideways, Manchester by the Sea, and American Sniper, the comprehensive Storyforms were written and understood in 1993-94–the year that Dramatica came out. Clarification and development of concepts naturally reveals many of these initial offerings to be mis-leading.

Could the examples from The Fugitive be better? Absolutely. Do they indicate evidence of the storyform as presented, and maybe there is leeway in how we write Influence Character? Not likely. Besides the fact that at the end of the day you can write whatever you want, the inability to accurately depict the impact of the Influence Character’s perspective suggests the possibility of an inaccurate storyform.

Your best bet is to ask here. I’ve found that if Authors stretch beyond what they presume to be a Storypoint to the actual essence of the Storypoint, they find something deeper and more meaningful.

Changed and Steadfast are not cause-and-effect (your steadfastness causes my change), they are relational. If the former was true, then it would be the Influence Character’s change that causes the Main Character to be Steadfast. Weird to think of it in that terms, yet it is always the Influence Character who challenges the Main Character, not the other way around.

If the Main Character challenges the Influence Character then the Influence Character is a Main Character in another storyform.

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If this is the case, I would guess it’s incidental. The player that represents your Main Character throughline can and will participate in other throughlines. But when that player is active in another throughline, they are more of a supporting character for that throughline than they are MC.

What I mean is that if your OS is Physics and MC is Mind, your MC player is free to deal with Physics issues, but while dealing with Physics issues, they are an OS character and not an MC character. They are free to participate with the IC as part of the IC Universe throughline. But while participating in the IC throughline, they are just a supporting character in that throughline.

The caveat to what I just said would be that a scene could do double duty as both OS and MC throughline, or IC and MC throughline. If a scene is doing double duty, then the player is both Main Character and active in another throughline, right?

Well, not really. It’s like trying to measure light. Measure it one way and light is a particle and not a wave. Measure it another way and light is a wave and not a particle. So light is able to look like a particle and a wave, but can only look like one or the other from a given perspective. Never both at the same time. So in a scene that does double duty, your MC player will only look like a Main Character when you view the scene as an MC scene and will only look like a supporting character to the IC when you view the scene as an IC scene. The character will look like both MC player and IC player, but will only look like one or the other, never both at the same time. If ever you feel like you are looking at the Main Character while watching an IC scene, then I would suggest that somewhere, for some reason, perspectives are getting crossed up and the message muddied.

All that is just to say that when you see what looks like the MC influencing the IC, that’s not really what’s going on. You can write an IC throughline that way, but do not assume there is a necessary connection that calls for a steadfast MC to influence the IC to change.

Thank you both.

I think the difficulty is that the throughlines have specific meanings, but in order to make them intelligible we use general terms, like “impact” or “influence”. I believe I made exactly that mistake at first (mistaking the objective function of a OS player for “influence”).