August in the Vanishing City (novel)

I agree with most of this (and like your justification for Decision – that’s a big blind spot for me).

So when I wrote this, I was using a different story structure approach – the decision to go to Varosha was supposed to be the end of Act 1. The placement isn’t exactly right though – I see now that it’s closer to the 30% mark than 25%. So I’m not sure what to think about that.

The decisions on the letters was definitely important.

Unfortunately I’m not even sure where my original outline for this is. I’m going to try to find it.

Yes, I think so.

So here’s a question – are drivers necessarily limited to the big “tentpole” moments or can they happen throughout?

Oh shoot. I totally screwed up, I’d thought about the Act Turns before and I was trying to post quickly (because I knew I was procrastinating from the Actual Writing I was supposed to be doing :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Anyway, yeah I remember I’d made that mistake earlier (when I was figuring out the storyform before) and double-checked the timings and realized I was wrong, but today I forgot that. Sending the letters must be a mid-Act Driver instance, and going to Varosha must be the Second Driver (First Act Turn) since that’s a really big thing.

I think the Midpoint is his decision to keep going once he’s found the photograph of Joanna’s father, i.e. not to just tie the flag to the roof of Joanna’s house and then leave (which he does consider for a bit). This sets up the action of Emre and Kadir finding him. Although hmm, that’s a ways before the 50% mark, so hard to say for sure. But it does seem important. (EDIT: however, there’s a bunch of out-of-timeline stuff after that, so that Emre and Kadir don’t try to arrest Petros until the 52% mark of the book.)

Anyway, I think it’s clear that Decision is the driver!


Agreed! I’ll comment on the other points later today (or maybe save for signpost illustrations?).

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I didn’t have a very good idea about what the drivers were, so I’ll follow your leads on decision.

Seems like a clear option lock. No time limit is given. Seems like there could be a couple descriptions of possible options. Getting back across the line alive seems like a good one.


Option lock for sure

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Okay. I don’t think there can be much doubt that Judgment is Good, right? No one seems bitter at the end, they didn’t suffer more than a slap on the wrist for crossing the line, and Petros especially seems content at the end.

But what about Outcome? I definitely thought that was Failure, but @Lakis wasn’t sure. This might be something we have to circle back to once we talk about OS Concern & especially Goal, but even if you don’t talk about things in terms of The Past, it seems like Petros went into Varosha to accomplish something, something bigger than just his personal problems – something to do with the whole Universe of the Greek Cypriots (or at least those in the story, living in the shadow of the Vanishing City and the Green Line). I think hanging the Greek flag above the hotel was part of that, and it was related to the secret organization too (Filiki Eteria - @Lakis does that mean Greek Forever?).

And I don’t think he accomplished that; in fact I think this was one of those stories where the cumulative Cost became too much to bear, and the Goal wasn’t worth it, it was better to accept the already-in-place (Stop) Consequences. I think that happened a few times, with letting the raft sink being the final instance of that. So Outcome = Failure.

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Definitely Judgement of Good.

I have trouble sometimes with somewhat more abstract interpretations Goals (see my failure to see Success in our analysis of Cars) which is a reason I hesitated. (I also might have been looking at signposts and wondering if I had them right).

But it’s pretty clearly Failure.

There’s something utterly quixotic an hopeless in the whole endeavor, which is part of the point. Even if he had managed to get the flag up, what would that have really accomplished?

Yeah. I think so.

Yeah, very cool. I think somewhere in the Dramatica Theory Book it talks about how in some stories, the Goal is shown to be ill-conceived, never really achievable.

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So maybe it would be a good time to ask, what is the goal? I would agree that it feels like a failure in that Petros doesn’t make it back with the picture of Joanna’s father, but that’s not the goal. After the kid is shot dead in the beginning, we get a few different goals. They killed one of ours, let’s kill two of theirs. Let’s raise a Greek flag. That ‘something more’ that you mention, Mike, I would say is maybe something like ‘making a statement that Varosha is Greek’ or maybe something like ‘causing problems for the Turks, cause an episode that forces them to send their army’. And really, that is accomplished, isn’t it?

Ps-sorry for lack of involvement today. Had an internet outage for most of the day.

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Sorry meant to respond to this. Literally it means “friendly society” (“society of friends”). It harkens back to the Greek independence movement in the early 1800s – there was a secret society that met in Constantinople with the goal of revolution against the Ottoman Turks (Greece had been occupied by the Ottoman empire for 400 years).

So assuming the OS is most directly expressed in the plans of the Society of Friends ( Petros, Elias et. al.), I would say it’s “asserting our dignity” or “showing that we’re still here and that you must reckon with us.”

More broadly, the longstanding goal of Greeks in Cyprus (outside of the novel) is “recover our lost lands and heritage.” That’s kind of assumed in the book, though its not like they have any illusions that putting up a flag would convince Turkey to give back northern Cyprus.

I think that the Friendly Society’s (poorly articulated) goal could be approximated as “finally taking care of unfinished business” – or “shaking loose the frozen situation that was established in 1974” or “forcing the politicians and the world to do something” or even “forcing a change to the intolerable status quo.”

This is seen from the very beginning when Petros is dwelling on the absurdity of a soldier dying on the Green Line – nothing is changed, his death might as well have had no meaning.

They do send their army into the Varosha but it doesn’t trigger another invasion. At the end of the book the government manages to paper over everything so it’s as if this thing (that in reality would have been an international incident) didn’t happen.

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No worries! There’s no deadline. :slight_smile:

Great discussion on Story Goal so far guys. I was about to comment on that but feel it might be better if we decide on the OS Concern (or concern locations in general) first.

@Greg are you okay with top-left Concerns, so The Past as OS Concern? @Lakis and I didn’t discuss this very much because we both felt it was really strong (I think he just said “100%” and we moved on) but definitely let us know if you were thinking in other directions.

If that works, I might have a way of articulating the Goal that sort of combines everything Lakis mentioned about the Friendly Society’s goals, and makes it a decent response to the First Driver inequity of the soldier dying on the Green Line.

I’m going to make us discuss that a bit first, if that’s okay. How would you describe those four concerns as source of conflict?

For the OS, The Past is causing difficulties for everyone:

  • everyone is stuck in their lives because of what happened in 1974, being forced to flee their homes and leave their past behind. But never being able to fully leave the past behind because the idea of being able to return to their past homes, or at least to rebuild their city, has always hung over them. False hope, and even when it became improbable and perhaps impossible, they can still SEE the empty city, lying there just as it was in 1974 (plus looting and decay).
  • it’s stated that Turks didn’t even mean to take Varosha, but once they had it they held onto it as a bargaining chip. So that past action, that past mistake, has haunted everyone for 20 years (in the story; 40+ in real life I guess).
  • (of course it’s bigger than just Varosha, since Turkey occupies half of Cyprus, but Varosha makes a great image for the story)
  • all of the above are problems because it’s shown in the story that people WANT to return home, they long for what they had, for what was taken from them. That conflict between desire and ability causes enmity within families (Petros and Michaelis/Elias), causes them to feel second-class in their own country (tearing up the cafe), causes the formation of the secret Friendly Society.

Also, I felt the story had that “heavy” feeling that top-left concerns usually give.

And although the title “Vanishing” could imply Progress, I didn’t see a lot of conflict coming from the progress of the vanishing itself – no one was really worried about the rate at which the city was decaying. If this was brought up, it was more focused on the past itself – the past is slipping away, heroes aren’t what they were in the past, families were happier in the past, etc.

Also this (from earlier private thread):

Sorry, that was a lot. What do you think so far Greg?

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Out of the four, the most difficult one for me to articulate was Petros’ Concern of Understanding, especially for some reason distinguishing it from other throughlines.

I keep coming up with things like “understanding the past” which seems to combine MC and OS throughlines.

That said:

  1. Petros is driven to understand why his uncle and Elias (that side of the family) seems to have ended up with the wealth. I think quite a bit of his throughline is actually here.
  2. He writes letters in the hopes of making Joanna understand his feelings for him. Then he tries to retrieve those letters to avoid that!

I am trying to think of other examples.

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Good examples! I was also thinking a lot of it has to do with how he was born just after the 1974 invasion, so he’s sort of out of place because of that. Where is his home? What was it really like to live in Varosha? To own and run a fancy hotel? How did his uncle end up so much better off than his father? What happened between his uncle and father? Who is he to Joanna, just her best friend’s little brother, or can he ever be something more?

He’s seeking to Understand all those things. Or in some cases, to make his answers to them understood by others (writing letters). That process of seeking understanding causes him grief and strife.

This is one thing that’s really amazing about Dramatica, but I have to constantly keep reminding myself – it’s not exclusive. That is, you can have an illustration that uses all sorts of words from other Dramatica terms, as long as the true source of conflict comes from the actual story point. (In this case the Author did some elegant storyweaving between MC and OS throughlines, I think! :wink: )

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Thanks. :slight_smile:

I keep having to remind myself this too. Here’s where there’s a risk of getting too rigid in the application of Dramatica – to the point you always make about figuring out when to just trust the subconscious mind.

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I’m having trouble seeing most of these concerns. I can kind of see Past, I guess, but it doesn’t really seem like a Past thing. The Turks invaded in the past, but I’m not seeing that fact that they were invaded as causing conflict as much as the Turks still being there as a source of conflict, all the things that might have been if the Turks weren’t there preventing them. I initially would have said Present for OS, but am now leaning more toward Progress in that things changing-land and business owners pushed out of their homes, the idea that Cyprus is Turkish now and not Greek-felt like descriptions of the plot to me. I also don’t know that I could point to much Prediction or Interdiction. Fate and Destiny…eh, maybe. But I think I’d have an easier time finding Fact, Fantasy, Security, and Threat.

I also don’t see Understanding as a full description of Petros’ plot. I could have missed some things, but understanding the land and money issues in the family really struck me as more of a signpost for Petros. Doing seemed the best description to me. Unfortunately, many of the examples I’d give were also what I used to show him as a Do-er, which would make it seem as though I’m possibly combining those two. But when Joanna mentions her father’s picture, I don’t see any understanding in that. Only Petros deciding to go get a picture for her. And when the parents of the dead boy give Petros the flag and tell him to do what he wants, I also don’t see any understanding there, just a decision to go raise the flag.

That said, where would Conceptualizing fit in with IC? Memories with RS?

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I have to be careful not to project too much of my own sense of the real world situation into things (as opposed to what’s in the text), so feel free to call me on that.

The Concern of the Past as I see it comes from the fact that this single moment (well, a series of events from July to August of 1974) is completely defining the lives of everyone on the island. Something broke, and there’s literally no way to get past it. Joanna can’t get over the death of her father. The secret society is drawing its inspiration from the Past. And the Turks have their own conception of the Past that is entirely at odds with the narrative the Greeks are telling themselves. There’s simply no way they could ever learn to get along without either a) coming to some kind of agreement about what really happened and what it means or b) agreeing to let go of the past. But until then, the island is frozen in a single moment in time (symbolized by abandoned Varosha-- where there are still clothes hanging on lines).

Initially I had jumped to the Element quad, and then Mike pointed out “Interdiction” as the OS Issue was kind of amazing – everyone is prevented from crossing the Green Line. (EDIT: I almost forgot – the Turkish invasion itself was an “intervention” – especially from their point of view.)

Elias is constantly Conceptualizing schemes that cause problems. Some of this could be tied in with broader Manipulations – or could be a signpost, I guess.

Mike also pointed out that Conceptualizing is also “visualizing”. So being forced to Conceptualize the idea of Elias and Joanna together drives Petros crazy. (Okay, I see how this could also sound like Conceiving).

Memories: the romantic relationship between Petros and Joanna is deeply rooted in memory (though this is shown primarily through Petros’ POV). The memories of Joanna’s father and Petros’ attempt to recapture them (by recovering the photograph) is central to the growth of their relationship. But also when Petros learns that the those memories are not all they might seem, there is an implicit threat to the relationship – what will it do to them if he brings back things that should have been left undiscovered?


For the OS, I can definitely see your points and could see arguments for either Progress or Present. Maybe we can come back to that.

Still, to me the variations under The Past fit pretty well:

  • Interdiction – being prevented from returning home! The Green Line. (to me, this one is PERFECT – an awesome fit for Interdiction and the story)
  • Prediction – predicting when we’ll be able to return home / predicting that we’ll never return home. Predicting whether the crazy soldier who crossed into Varosha will make it back.
  • Fate: I see Fate as very close to the concept of “home”. In a way, that’s what home is, the place you always go back to. So they’re literally viewing this place from across the bay that should be their Fate, but isn’t. Instead, they’ve all ended up with a different fate. (Also “being trapped by inevitable circumstances” is a good gist.)
  • Destiny: I think part of this comes from the history of rebellion on the island, and how with such heroes in their past, they should be destined for great things, but that doesn’t match up with the path they’re walking

I see Lakis has posted now, but just want to reiterate:

IC Conceptualizing – visualizing is HUGE here, to me that’s almost the whole throughline. Petros facing conflict over visualizing Joanna and Elias together, Joanna facing conflict because she can’t visualize her father, etc.

RS Memories – the relationship struggles with an imbalance of memories. On the one hand, Petros has all these memories of her as this perfect girl that he’s always loved. Meanwhile, she always remembers him as just her friend’s little brother. Until that disparity in memories can be reconciled, the relationship can never move beyond “crush/friend’s little brother” to “lovers”. (Also what @Lakis said)