August in the Vanishing City (novel)

I agree, although keep in mind something he does in this scene (e.g. developing plans) could be influencing Petros anytime later in the story. Since the storyform is holistic like that, I don’t think you can say equivocally that he’s not acting as IC in this scene. But I definitely agree this scene is mostly OS, and Elias is mostly fulfilling an OS role here.

In fact, I wonder if there’s a Protagonist hand-off in this story – with Elias as Protagonist in the first act, then Petros after that.


Looking at it again now… I see your point!

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Not sure if you guys were going to respond to this part, so I may be jumping ahead here, but here’s how I’m looking at this.

Petros meets Elias and Co so that they can talk about this plan to retaliate against the Turks (the 2 for 1 deal). If anything, this discussing of the plan is maybe a follow up to the original story Driver and maybe a bit of genre level conflict-that is, the Situation with the Turks is the root of Greeks plotting to retaliate. Seems a bit soft as far as conflict goes, but that’s beside the point here anyway.

At the plot level, we have a group of Greeks trying to have a discussion in a restaurant. But when the staff pays more attention to the…were they Arabs?..than the Greeks, this leads to Petros wrecking the place and other chaos ensuing.

Does this sound like a fair description of this chapter? Of the source of conflict (something about the Arabs getting too much attention, or the Greeks not enough) and the conflict it leads to (wrecking stuff, calling police)?


Actually (and again, this might be biased by the storyform we already came up with), I thought Mike’s assessment of this scene as having to do with Focus/Direction of Equity/Inequity felt right on.

Genre level: The situation we (as Greeks) are in our country is intolerable. We’ve lost half the country, and now we’re losing the other half (the rich Arabs are coming in and the waiter won’t even serve us).

Character (Element) Level: Everyone is focused on the historical and ongoing injustice they feel they have suffered. They respond by a) thinking about retaliating (against the Turks) and/or b) causing a ruckus and breaking things (in response to injustice at the restaurant).

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That sounds good to me. Keep in mind that at this level (all the way down to the scene) there are going to multiple sources of conflict – most likely the Symptom/Focus, which will be more visible, and the Problem, which will be more behind the scenes but more truly the thing driving it all.

I think the things you mentioned (something about the Arabs getting too much attention, or the Greeks not enough) are pretty close to the Symptom/Focus … ok crossposting with @Lakis now, basically saying the same thing

It’s actually really cool how well that scene shows a Response of Equity – “if we can’t be served, then no one can.” And in response to that perceived injustice, the storeowner calls the cops.

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Just thinking, it might kind of annoying for @Greg that we keep referring to our candidate storyform.

So if we forget that for a moment, and pretend we don’t have a candidate, I still think the things in the scene are mostly showing Focus & Direction, plus if you look harder you might see Problem. To see Concern you would probably have to zoom out a bit, like @Lakis showed the different levels in his last post.

EDIT: Just to reiterate, Greg, I think your summary of the chapter was really good.


Good point. I’m having trouble not referring to it because it seems to click into place so well (I’m still open on the Driver and I can see how the Change/Steadfast question could be problematic).

But I can try to have a more open mind. :slight_smile:


Would you say this is what causes them to start throwing chairs? Or no?

It’s my fault for using ‘scene’ language, but I’m really looking at this chapter as OS SP1. Yeah, there’s probably some stuff in other chapters that would fall there as well, but I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible.

So what would you say Plot level conflict is in this chapter? The source of it? I know you’ve likely already pointed to it in previous posts, but just to have a direct comparison to my description of the chapter above.

Not at all. I’m not even really discussing storyform right now. It will come up, but I’m really just trying to discuss how you guys look for conflict and source of conflict vs how I’m doing it.


I’m not sure exactly what you mean by Plot level conflict (I think you mean at the Concern or Signpost level?)

Anyway, to give it a shot, I think at that level, the conflict stems from the fact that Cyprus is not the same as it was; it’s no longer as Greek as it should be. These Greek soldiers should be loved, or at least treated with respect, when they walk into a cafe in Limmasol, and they would have been in the past. Instead, it’s like they’re anachronisms, relics who find themselves in a Cyprus where Arabs are treated better than Greeks. That all boils down to these sources of conflict:

  • Petros & crew have a drive to be treated the way Greek soldiers/heroes were treated in the past
  • The shop owner and Arabs ignore tradition

I’m aware that my belief in OS Concern (and probably SIgnpost 1) of The Past is colouring how I see it, but all that feels right. I think it’s all there in the subtext.



So this is where it feels like the storytelling mixes throughlines. Trying to take it out of Dramatica language, Petros’ experience of rage and impotence causes internal conflict in him that “plants the seed” for him to cross over into Varosha.

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Yes. As in Domain is Genre, Concern is Plot, Issue is Theme, and Problem is Character.

See, I would say that, in what we’re calling OS SP1, Petros rage Is the conflict. And I’d say the rage and throwing chairs are all a connected form of conflict. And this is all rooted, I would say, in the Arabs getting all the attention. So figuring out what process ‘the Arabs getting all the attention’ represents is how I would find the term on the Dramatica table. So I’m this scene, whether it’s Concern or Sign Post or otherwise, I’d say the process creating conflict here can be described as:

Or, to paraphrase from the book, ‘first they took over there, now they’re taking over here’. Whatever that specific process is is what I’m lookomg for here, whether it be Past, Progress, or whatever.


But how do you know what level it’s at (i.e. if it’s plot, character or theme?). To me this process sounds like unfairness or injustice. “They’re treating the Arabs so much better then us just because they have money – even though this is ‘our’ country!”

Actually now that I think about it, this is where the throughlines could converge. In his rage, Petros grabs Elias and tries to rough him up, thinking I want to know, how is it that you have everything and I have nothing–not Joanna, but everything. That’s sounds to me like the same process in a different context.

EDIT: Reading this again I see how this could also signify a sense of things getting worse and worse (i.e. Progress).


So this answer, like other things in Dramatica, is going to be an approximation because I’m not sure I can do the explanation justice. Not sure this is really what you meant, But, for me, it’s something like this.

Genre-just as a box office genre tells us where the entertainment comes from (horror, romance, etc) I look for the Dramatica Genre to tell us where the
Conflict comes from. Is the source of conflict generally external, phsychologucal, etc? This is looking at every process within the throughline that creates conflict.
Then I also look for a broader description of a problem that sort of ties those events together thematically (‘thematically’ here meaning ‘with similar storytelling’, or a Gist)

Plot-just like a traditional plot, I look for Plot to describe the larger story events. At some level Shawshank Redemption is about hope and institutionalization, but at the plot level, it’s all prison beatings and hole digging and such.
But there’s Sign Post Plot and then Concern Plot. To get the Concern Plot, I need a description of the plot as a whole. Dinosaur carnage wouldn’t describe the plot of JurassicPark, or instance. Just the last half. To describe that plot in full you’d need to mention the running of a dinosaur zoo.

Issue-the theme level. This is where I look for value standards. ‘We need to eliminate the threat if we want to survive’, or ‘it’s important that we represent a bigger threat than they do if we don’t want to be attacked’. I like to look for this in dialogue but I think it can be found in actions and the narration around the characters. I tend to think of Issue as ‘smaller’ than plot, or as fitting inside of Plot. Just like Plot and Genre, there’s a version of this in a given scene and then an overall version.

Problem- character level, drive, the smallest level. Where Plot is a large event, like being ignored until a restaurant gets destroyed, character is smaller, within the character. Where pot is being ignored until things get broke, character might be the determination to get noticed or something.

All of those have an ‘in scene’ version and a ‘describes the whole story’ version. I can connect ‘now they’re taking over here’ to throwing chairs, or the past invasion to present hatred, but have a hard time connecting a past invasion to throwing chairs.


Hmm. I think I have a hard time seeing such clear distinctions between character and plot at this resolution. But if what you’re looking at is the sequence of events – isn’t that represented by the PSR at this level? Which means that there’s not really a way to reverse engineer it, right?

Out of curiosity do you have the beginnings of a different storyform in mind? Concern of Progress? Or are you still trying to work out the source of conflict?

I’m still having an easier time seeing Progrss than Past. I was hoping to see how you guys are connecting Past to conflict here, and I get a general idea of this past event sort of being what the characters are pointing at as an excuse or a reason for present conflict, but it just seems too disconnected to be the source of conflict for me. I’m usually wrong in these conversations where I just can’t get on the same page as everyone else. And standing my grand to the point of being overly annoying is typically how I eventually come around, but I’m hoping not to do too much of that in this thread.

Anyway, if I were to follow Progress as Concern, I wouldn’t be able To give you the character level problem yet. I’ve been slowly retreading it, so we’ll see if I come around to Past or maybe come up with a Progress storyform to offer.

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:grin: no worries! I’d be interested to see if you can make a case for Progress. I don’t see it – but I’m also influenced by the fact that I can’t come up with a Progress storyform that seems to click as well as the one we’re working with.

There are a few things I’m less sure of on on our storyform. Mike makes a good case for Decision drivers but this is one that I never get right. I did notice that if you change it to Action that puts the first Signpost into Progress, so maybe that’s a possibility.

There’s also a chance that I’m wrong about Resolve, but I’m less unsure about this one because 1) the storyform doesn’t click if you make him steadfast and 2) I have some idea what I was thinking when I wrote it – though there could be a structural flaw or insufficient “signal” on that.

It would be great to see if anyone else reads it what they think.

Here’s the thing. At some larger level, we seem to be doing this the same way. We all agreed on OS Universe, MC Physics. But once we get below that, I think we all have a good idea of conflict and source of conflict, but We’re all looking at it in a slightly different way such that whatever rings true for me necessarily isn’t going to ring true for you and mike. thats why I’m tryimg to get an idea of how you guys are seeing source of conflict. So I can see where one of us (probably me) is wrong.

Right now, it seems like the difference is that I’m wanting to take specific processes right out of the scene to use as a source of conflict. But you and Mike are wanting to take these bigger, sort of behind-the-scenes processes to use as source of conflict. What this difference looks like to me in storyforming is the difference between Greeks losing more of their country leading to wrecking a restaurant as compared to having been invaded leading to wrecking a restaurant. I can see Progress as the source here no problem, but you and Mike I think are doing this in a way…not that you can’t see it, but in a way that makes having been invaded a stronger candidate. To me, using having been invaded as a source seems like adding an extra step. A source for the source. A story behind the story (a backstory, if you will).

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Yeah, but how do you know then if what your looking at is a Concern vs. a Signpost, vs. some expression of a thematic Variation (either static or of the PSR) that looks like a Concern? Or a character Element? I feel like at that resolution it’s almost impossible to pull it out, and as Jim says you can often make a case for any number of specific story points. Its when you pull it all together that only one seems to really fit. So for example, if you put the OS Concern in Past, then the relationship between Joanna and Petros is in Memories – and isn’t that what the conflict and growth of their relationship is all about? But if you put it in Progress you end up with an RS in Preconscious – and of course that will be there (as a Signpost at least) but in terms of something that describes the whole arc of their relationship, Memories is so much stronger (isn’t it?)

So I could see this particular point coming from Progress. But for the Concern, you have to look at the entire story, start to finish, right? So if the Greeks didn’t feel like they were slowly losing the second half of the country, would their problem go away? No, because half the island would still be occupied. If Varosha were not slowly distintigrating but instead were somehow magically preserved (but still a ghost town), would that solve the problem? No, because it would still be inaccessible and under foreign occupation.

Well, I can tell you that’s not how the Greek Cypriots see it :slight_smile: It may have lessened a bit in intensity now (in 2019) but as of the mid-90s I can tell you that the invasion was something that was lived every day–omnipresent, something that you were constantly reminded of, literally at every corner when you’re driving through Nicosia. Of course there are lots of people who point to different points in history as the source of the conflict – the Turks to the 1960s, other Greeks to what they British did when Cyprus was a colony, etc. But it’s possible that that doesn’t totally come through in my story.

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Except don’t forget the storyform is mostly subtext – it’s often hidden behind all the storytelling. So sometimes the best way to figure out the storyform (especially for an author) is to summarize the whole story onto a single page.

Like you, I can definitely see Progress as a source of conflict in that particular scene though, and now I’m questioning whether the Driver might be Action after all, since SP 1 of Progress would be good here. (I was wondering if there was a Journey of Past to Progress going on here, but I don’t know, that should be a bump anyway.)

But regardless of signposts, there’s no question to me that the Past is the common Concern for the whole OS story. It’s everywhere, a weight on everyone’s shoulders, staring them in the face when they look across the bay.

Oh, just noticed @Lakis’s last post:

It did for me – in fact I was wondering why I was so fascinated by the freedom fighter’s diary etc., which in a lot of stories might be a “yawn” moment, but I think because it fit the structure (OS Concern) it stayed super interesting.


you can look at each Sign Post as four individual pieces, and you can look at the entire plot as being one single piece, and when looking at 4 pieces you can look at which Concern appears through all four.

Where do you see the relationship dynamic changing in regard to memories?
I’d say it changes when Petros thinks he sees her and goes running out of the club leaving his friends behind. And when she runs after him, calling for him, willing to start a scandal.

We’re not speaking about all Greeks, though, right? Just the ones in this story. And the ones in this story, we’ve already agreed, want to show the Turks that they’re still here. To solve this problem, they don’t need to undo the Past. They just need to make that statement to the Turks. The statement that brings the whole Turkish army down on them to prove that Cyprus is still Greek.

And much of the story is directly talking about the invasion, the bombs falling, the father disappearing. What isn’t being spoken About as much is the way the Turks are still taking over, the way the Greeks feel like Cyprus has not progressed into Turkey.

If the problem is everyone is still suffering from a past invasion, what is it about the kid getting shot that drives them all to deal with the past as opposed to driving them to make the statement that Cyprus is still their land? What about the plot of the OS erases, undoes, helps them come to terms with or otherwise in regards to the past vs the plot being one big statement about how Cyprus is not completely under Turkish control?

See we’re arguing storyform again, and I really didn’t mean to do that. But I just don’t see how the plot is anything other than the Greeks attempt to show the Turks that they haven’t completely pushed the Greeks out.

I think we’re in total agreement about how to determine all this stuff. I just think we’re off a half step on how to follow the conflict to the source. Maybe this is just me being too linear of a problem solver?