Character Sets and the Crucial Element

Is there a relationship between the four “PURPOSE, MOTIVATION, EVALUATION and METHODOLOGY” sets and the “you and I are alike” MC / IC moment?

The reason I ask is, in Rocky, the crucial element falls on EVALUATION (Accurate / Non-Accurate) and the you and I are alike seems to relate to self-perception. Rocky: “My dad told me I wasn’t too smart, so I should learn to use my body.” Adrienne: “My mother told me I wasn’t pretty, so I should learn to use my mind.” Rocky and Adrienne both suffer from low self-esteem (an issue of perception, or EVALUATION).

Another example is with Amélie. Here, the crucial elements fall on Evaluation / Reevaluation (METHODOLOGY) and the you and I are alike comes from the Glass Man who says something along the lines of, “My bones are brittle, but yours are not. Stop hiding like I have to and throw yourself against life, Amélie. Accept the hard knocks. Live!” To me that sounds like a call for how to go about living a good life, or METHODOLOGY.

Is there any truth to this, or am I just making connections where there aren’t any?

The reason I ask is I’m trying to find an approach that works from the inside out; start with the emotional core of the story and build outwards from there.

I asked Chris this once and the answer was no. The “You and I” are alike comes as a result of both throughlines working as either States or Processes (the alike part) and one is internal, one is external (the we’re nothing alike apart). In other words, it’s at the Domain level that we see that connection.

Also be careful to try and extrapolate Purpose, Motivation, Evaluation and Methodology from the Table of Story Elements based on where the Concerns line up. Once you set the context within which to view your story (set the Concern), those elements at the bottom become MOTIVATIONS.

I think both those quotes reflect Relationship Problem/Solution pair of Non-Accurate/Accurate. However, the crucial elements in the Rocky storyform the DUG did are IC Crucial = Proven, and MC Crucial = Unproven. The MC crucial element ties the MC throughline to the OS throughline at the character level. This appears to be consistent with what is seen in the film, since the local boxer (Rocky) is an unknown quantity in the professional boxing world, which is what the promoter wants for his star boxer.

Oh, that’s right. Rocky’s a steadfast MC, so the crucial elements don’t fall on the Problem / Solution. My bad. I was assuming the crucial element and the “you and I” were related because they often fall on the same elements.

I’m looking for articles that help explain the two sides of the same coin concept, but can’t find anything.

I don’t know where there are specific articles on the “You and I are alike” dichotomy, but the concept is simple:

In the back story (for a Change character) or at the beginning of the story (for a Steadfast character), there comes a point where the Main Character must choose a path to take because of some PERSONAL inequity or imbalance introduced by an event of some sort. The Main Character then goes down that path attempting to resolve the personal problem. The Influence Character represents the path not chosen – the path that is intimately tied to that original choice consciously or unconsciously made by the Main Character at the point when and where the original inequity was addressed.


The part of the argument that ties the two perspectives together, those of the Main Character and Influence Character, is the point of origin – the event that introduced the original inequity. They both have some relationship to the core inequity that is both the source of personal conflict for the Main Character, but also is the source of the Main Character’s drive. This is what gives them a basis in similarity.


The part of the argument where the Main Character and Influence Character diverge is the path taken/chosen to address the original inequity. The Main Character represents the path taken. The Influence Character represents the path NOT taken by the Main Character and is the alternative to the Main Character’s path. That is WHY the Influence Character cannot be ignored by the Main Character. The Influence Character represents a legitimate means to addressing the original inequity. However, legitimate does not mean it is the “right” (effective) means to address the “problem.”

This divergence in paths/approaches to resolving the Main Character’s inequity creates a tug-of-war between the two characters. There is no way for the Main Character to know if it is on the right path toward resolving it’s personal problems, or if the Influence Character’s path is the better of the two.


So, with the Main Character representing one path and the Influence Character representing the alternative path, a storytelling convention has emerged where the Main Character and Influence Character have a conversation that establishes this relationship. It often goes something like this:

IC: We’re the same.
MC: No, we’re not the same. You [insert an example of the different path]
IC: True, but you [insert an example of the shared attention to the inequity], just like me.

… or an interchange that effectively communicates the same information.

In short order, the author has informed the audience about:

  • The Main Character’s position on addressing the Main Character’s personal problem
  • The Influence Character’s alternative position on addressing the Main Character’s personal problem
  • How the Main Character and Influence Character are similar in their approaches
  • How the Main Character and Influence Character are dissimilar in their approaches


In the storyform, the most visible expression of the Main Character/Influence Character approach divergence is seen at the Class level of the structure. One character searches for the solution externally (Situation or Activities), while the other uses an internal approach to resolving the inequity (Fixed Attitude or Manipulation/Psychology). That explains the “not alike” part of the argument.

The part that explains the similarity of their approaches relates to the axis of their dynamic (diagonal) pair relationship in the structure. Both characters will have throughlines in EITHER domains that explore processes (i.e. Activity and Manipulation) OR domains that explore the state of things (i.e. Situation and Fixed Attitude).

In this way the two have a basis in common ground (state or process) as well as a divergence in approach (internal or external).


A grand argument story does not begin until all four throughlines are present. [NOTE: This is not the same as how the story is presented to the audience through storyweaving. The AUDIENCE may not be aware of the presence of all four throughlines at the beginning of the work, but each of the four throughlines must be evident BEFORE the first act turn, and preferably much earlier than that point in the story.] A key part of the Main Character’s purpose in the story is to explore the path it has taken in its attempt to resolve its personal issues. That exploration is unlikely to occur without the irritating effects of the Influence Character on the Main Character’s complacency (if any).

The inciting event sets into motion the collision (and cohesion) of the four throughlines that form the underlying basis of the story and the drive towards its resolution (or non-resolution).

I hope this helps.


Just to make sure I’m getting it…

So in the example of Rocky, both Rocky and Adrian are struggling with a sense of low self-esteem brought on by their parents. With Rocky it’s, “Yeah – My ol’ man who was never the sharpest told me – I weren’t born with much brain so I better use my body.” And Adrian replies, “My mother told me just the opposite. She said, ‘You weren’t born with much of a body so you’d better develop your brain.’” For both, this is a state of things.

Is it when Adrian wants to fool around and Rocky wants her to stop? Rocky wants to focus on his training (activity: process, external) and become a better fighter, while Adrian wants them to work on their relationship (manipulation: process, internal).

Is that correct?

Not exactly. It IS a clear example of an external approach to a problem (Rocky) and an internal approach to a problem (Adrian). Neither of their domains is a state. Rocky as MC is Activity (external/process) and Adrian as IC is Psychology/Manipulation (internal/process).

I would not characterize it that way. It may be the difference between the Overall Story and Relationship story throughlines, but my guess would be that your examples fall completely into the realm of the Relationship throughline where the two of them have a difference of opinions of what is necessary to improve the relationship (Fixed Attitudes domain).

Sorry for going through this point by point and quoting everything verbatim; just want to make sure I understand.

In the case of Rocky, who is a steadfast character, would that inequity come from something like losing his locker at the gym? Even though he just won a match the night before, his coach turns his back on him. Rocky’s not worth the trouble. Is that a viable interpretation?

So one could say Rocky needs to prove to the world, and to himself, that he’s worth the trouble?

So would that mean Adrian represents not trying, accepting that others might not see you as worth the trouble, and being okay with that? She represents moving on?

So with Rocky, it’s earning his locker back and training his ass off to prove his self-worth in the public eye, while Adrian is focused on moving on with her personal life?

Rocky = boxing (external), Adrian = relationship (internal)

Again, sorry for the verbatim quotes. Just needed to go over this bit by bit to make sure if I understand. I find it’s easy, with Dramatica, to make false assumptions and misunderstand huge chunks of the theory.

EDIT: Cut it down a bit as I realize I was being way too verbose.

I think you’re taking my discussion of the “You and I” relationship in a story a bit too literally. It was not meant to be a ‘formula’ for dissecting a story. I meant it as a way to present the purpose and meaning behind the storytelling convention.

When I referenced your comments as illustrations of Rocky = External and Adrian = Internal, I meant that as an MC, Rocky chose to explore the external world in an attempt to resolve his personal issues (“My dad told me I wasn’t too smart, so I should learn to use my body”), and Adrain chose the internal world (“My mother told me I wasn’t pretty, so I should learn to use my mind”).

Without a full analysis of Rocky (beyond a storyform), I don’t feel sufficiently familiar with the film to address your other follow-up questions.

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Understood. Thank you for taking the time to explain.

I recommend a fully different path for this. If you know the character’s emotional core, then write scenes where you have other characters or external obstacles challenge that core.

Just for an example, what would happen if a Japan-loving French-Canadian tries to get a job from a jingoistic American? You couldn’t write that scene without exposing everybody’s stakes (“I am out of money and will starve.” vs “My daughter ran off with an Italian and I haven’t seen her since.”) and hence backstory (or earlier act).

You can even do this with deliberate manipulation – “I’m going to give X a motivation of pursue and Y a methodology of possibility” – just turn on your truth meter to see if they feel right.


Why do I feel like I know that guy?

Yeah, that’s a great approach.

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