Choosing domains of Psychology vs. Mind

Totally agree – I was going by gut feel from what I’d read, which is dangerous especially over the internet!


This sounds like ‘tricking someone’ and a lot of the other stuff you’ve said sound like ‘thought control’. Those things, as sources of conflict, I’d think would be Psychology rather than Mind. Mind would be something like having a firm belief that he’s the only person competent enough for the position, or hating his subordinates.

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I started to make a similar comment about Psychology, Mike, but cut myself off because i figured there needed to be more context. It can be easy to point ata statement and say ‘that’s this process’ but every time I do that without context I end up being way off! (And sometimes even with context)

Also, sorry for dropping so many posts on here today. Slow day at the office!


My first instinct when reading this was OS Psychology too, but of course it this stage the story material could probably fit any number of storyforms.

@Niandra have you tried Armando’s “Dramatica in 30 Seconds” approach with several different options? I think writing a handful of different brief synopses and comparing them for what feels right is worth the time.


And that’s what I’m getting at in some of my replies. Without more context, we can’t really even know if manipulating others is creating conflict or is the product of some other process.


@Niandra here’s a variation of Armando’s process where @Greg and @whitepaws were helping me come up with different possibilities for a story idea I had.


Hi all,
thanks a lot for your responses and @mlucas for the link. I will definitely try it out! You’re responses made it clear to that the main problem is, I just don’t know what my story is! :sob:

Based on your first post, I would probably peg the OS as Psychology because it seems like the whole story is about the tyranny via thought manipulation. Unless there is something else that the Overall Story is about that you haven’t mentioned yet.
My greatest problem is that the OS is the least developed in my mind. The aspect of tyranny came to me while I was storyforming, I liked it and decided to go with it. Some time ago I had this scene in mind and lately, it keeps coming back, niggling at me to be considered, so I decided to see what might come of it. In the scene the MC meets a stranger, who recognises her and knows her intimately. But she has no recollection of him. As I continued to watch the scene, the stranger decided to find out why she couldn’t remember and in doing so comes to realise that he as well as the others around him are being manipulated to stop questioning anything phoney. In the course of the story, it becomes apparent that the MC developed a second personality and this personality is not completely influenced by the overall brainwashing. Together with this alter ego the stranger manages to get the MC to change.
Now, when just looking at this sequence of events, the MC is the woman and the IC is the perceived stranger. The alter ego is her innate ability to uncover the truth and also the reason the antagonist sees her as a threat. When I dug deeper I realised that this was only part of the story. It’s actually the 3rd or 4th act. I realised that I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg and I started seeing more and more scenes that told the story of the stranger and the MC. I feel like I have two storyforms, one that tells the story of these two and one that tells the story of the father and daughter. The latter is what I’ve dubbed the blanket story as it stretches over the other stories and only touches in some places. Because I don’t really know where my muse is leading me (or if she really has a plan for that matter :pensive: ) many aspects evolve as I go on this ride she’s sent me on. So, there might be something I haven’t mentioned yet (because she hasn’t :unamused: ). So at the moment I’m focusing on the father-daughter story and hope to figure out the other storyline when I feel the blanket story is something I want to write about. As I am basically clueless about the OS story I decided to focus on the other 3 POVs, they are more tangible to me. But since focusing on the resulting Goal and requirements today, I’m not sure my tactic is paying off :frowning:
I really have to go back to the drawing board. Your insights have shown me how little I still understand about the story!

It sounds like you have an IC who may also be the Antagonist in the OS, and it’s probably a Stop story because the Consequences (tyranny and thought control) are already in place. That works with a Be-er MC (so she would be in Mind) and the father’s influence on her would be rooted in his position of power (which would include being her father too).
Yes, the IC is the antagonist to me. The driver is stop because the Consequences are already in place. But this is where I am sometimes unsure. It depends on where I start the story and which questions are the focus. Was the father always a tyrant or did he become one? Why did he become one? To me, he became a tyrant when he suspected his daughter could be a threat to him. [quote=“mlucas, post:4, topic:2308”]
If that analysis is correct, I feel like you might need to look more carefully at your MC’s personal issues. Might they stem from love, fear, hatred, a strong belief in something (family values?), etc.?

I agree the MC holds the key. I decided some time ago that fear is at the root of her issues. But which Dramatica item best describes fear? She is afraid to die, of herself and her abilities. It feels right to say, that most of her fear is a reaction to her father’s (IC) actions. So his impact on her is to become distrust and fearful and this also leads to his own demise.

I’d say violating a person’s trust and meddling with their memories is an act of violence, or? She is sort of his right hand, so yes they engage in activities together, or rather she is more like his spy and enforcer. Physical affection: I’d say there’s a lack of that. But I feel like this is less about their relationship and more about his impact. For example, he tends to get rid of anyone who could clue her in on what he is doing to her (his wife/her mother). I think she knows about the general manipulation and that some of her memories have been changed, but she believes it is the right way to deal with the issue. Which brings me back to trust being her central problem.

@Lakis you’re right, there are too many possibilities and I have to figure out where I want this whole thing to lead to. Yes, I’ve been testing out the storyform with Armando’s approaches. The storyform I currently have satisfies me except the Goal and Requirements paragraph. I realised that everything I wrote was more about manipulations than a fixed attitude until I managed to eak out the paragraph I posted here. And I’m still not sure if it’s a vain attempt at forcing the terms to represent my vision.

I find it very hard to come up with a Goal that represents Preconscious. Also since I have a stop story here, I feel like I have to look at things backwards. So not: what is it they want to achieve, but what is it they want to get rid of. Am I right about this?

Since in my mind the MC and the IC are quite clear I think focusing on them should help me create the whole story. And while I’m writing this I’ve come to realise, that the while the manipulation influences all the characters, the MC is most impacted by it. The others could live on without noticing but because of her ability to partially lift the fog (with the help of her second personality and the stranger) it concerns her the most. Does this make manipulation the MC domain or the IC domain? thumps head repeatedly against desk in frustration

Yes, while I was on my break I realised my questions where wrong because they didn’t refer to the impact/influence. When I try to focus on the IC’s drive I automatically look at what he is concerned with. Another issue of the powerful yet utterly confused aspect of impact.

I’ll try that out! thanks!

Good point! My first inclination is that it’s the latter. His manipulation might actually be the reason there is peace. The theme I keep seeing is the question if giving up freedom to live as you like is just another form of tyranny and therefore really a good choice.

Ugh, what a mess! Thanks for all your input and sorry for writing so much (nonsense).

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Thanks a lot for the link @Lakis! Great method @Greg. I’m going to see where this leads me! Now I better appreciate why you were focusing on the conflict and source of conflict earlier! I still agree that the SOC is trust (she trusts too much in the wrong things and distrusts the right things) and the conflict that arises is that she lets herself be manipulated.

But I have a chicken and egg situation: What about her fear? Is her fear the cause for her trust issues or are her trust issues the cause for her fear? hmm, it’s her trust. Although she tells herself to trust, a part of her knows she can’t and that it is dangerous to trust. Because this is subconscious she can’t tell where the danger is coming from and becomes fearful of everything (exaggerated).
An unchosen item is the source of the blind trust a daughter has in her father.
This is my starting point, right?
I think I’m going to rewrite a new paragraph with all the aspects I want so far and then try this approach and see where it leads me!

Thanks again to all of you for your help!


If you’re going with this:

Then you would have something like A daughters blind trust in her father (SOC) allows her to be manipulated by her father ©.

If you want to do the same with fear, you could say “Fear (as SOC) leads to what conflict?” Or “An unchosen item leads to fear”. No wrong answer.

The only thing is to make sure whatever you use as conflict (“manipulation” or “fear” or otherwise) is treated as the conflict in your story and that it stems from the source of conflict.


Also don’t forget that since the MC and IC players both have roles in the OS also, it can be difficult sometimes to know whether you’re talking about the MC, IC, and OS throughlines. (Those summaries I mentioned can help a lot.)

And for a particular throughline it’s possible for both fear and trust to be sources of conflict, kind of different “zoom levels” of the conflict. Trust would be the most zoomed-in level (Problem level) while fear (Mind / Fixed Attitude) would be the most zoomed out (Domain). Note, fear can also be at the Concern level (deep subconscious fear = Subconscious aka Innermost Desires; being nervous/jittery = Preconscious aka Impulsive Responses, etc.).


That’s something else I was going to point to. Preconscious/impulsive response. One of the ways I sort of dumb Preconscious and Subconscious down for myself is to think of Sub as how one feels without thinking about it, and Pre as how one acts without thinking about it. That said, I’m not sure how your goal relates to Precoscious. If I’m understanding it, it almost seems like they are trying to Concieve that they are free from tyranny.

A goal of Preconscious would maybe be to remain calm about something, or to act spontaneously or inappropriately while under tyranny. That Preconscious act might then be the story outcome of Success and everybody feels a Judment of Good now that they see that they can be that way, or judge it as bad when they are all brutally murdered by the tyrant for that reaction.


While I think this is possible, I think it’s difficult, because, as @mlucas said, it’s hart to tell whether your player is operating in the MC, IC, or OS throughlines.

From a quick search on Subtext, there’s not a lot stories with that arrangement. A couple of interesting ones though are The Sound of Music and Zootopia. Each of these deal with cultures of prejudice (Mind). As for Preconscious, Zootopia is literally all about “animal instincts” while The Sound of Music “Nazi” storyform is about escaping “violent knee-jerk responses”.

But Preconscious can also be being numb, drunk, drugged, or out of your faculties.

Not sure if that helps you.


I want to write this story!


I spent the last few hours writing sentences in the SOC leads to C pattern and I’ve found it really helpful! Thank you! :bow:
First I just played around with it, then I decided to use it with the storyform I had. I did it for the MC throughline (Manipulation) and the ideas fit well until I got to the problem. Remembering that I had twisted the model by setting my IC’s drive on Test I changed that and wrote some new paragraphs with the resulting changes. I haven’t tried out the IC or RS throughline yet but I might give it a try.

Yes, that is definitely true! When using Armando’s instant Dramatica approach, I always need to write a short paragraph for each TL before I look for their titles. It’s crazy how just writing something down can help in understanding what’s going on in your head :slight_smile: But I still find it hard to differentiate between what applies to all the characters and what is just MC or IC specific. Thanks for the tip on the different zoom levels @mlucas , I hadn’t thought of that! Fear is also an innate response that can protect or hinder us or lead us to certain attitudes (fear of heights, fear of snakes, fear of strangers, fear of the unknown), aka Preconscious right?

Nice! Seems so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t see that difference before! If I want to stop acting without thinking, my Goal is in Preconscious, right? I think what always messes me up, is that Subconscious is described as basic drive, which I automatically translate into action aka doing without thinking or doing what one feels.

@Greg Rereading that/my sentence, it seems pretty nonsensical to me now! Sorry! what I wanted to say is that the characters have to stop believing they are free from tyranny. Because everything is better than it used to be and they live free from prejudice they weigh themselves into the false notion that they are free. When in actuality they have willingly given up the possibility to think freely. How that fits into Preconscious is beyond me, and unfortunately, the changes I’ve made to my storyform still leave me with this conundrum. But I also am starting to get the feeling that the conflict I’m describing is part of a different story and not part of my blanket story (doesn’t change that I’m confounded by Precon as a Goal though). If I’d write a sentence for the OS story it might be something like:
To gain control over your innate responses you have to focus on what your conscious is showing and telling you.

What’s confusing to me is that the innate responses of the characters are the problem area, so the Goal is to stop doing something particular in that area or maybe stop expecting that someone else can be made responsible for what you do without thinking. Getting lost in concepts now, so I’ll stop.

As the concern for the OS I found this idea fitting:
The characters’ violent attitudes towards those they perceive are beneath them have the lands constantly plagued by different wars.
I’ll go back to the drawing board using your SOC approach and see what happens if I let my mind glide away from my current storyform. my gut is telling me that the OS is in the mind domain and not in the psychology domain. The story I want to tell is more about a mindset that leads us to ignore thinking processes, rather than specific thought processes that cause us to behave with a specific mindset. And if I understood correctly, the SOC decides the domain etc., right?

@Lakis thanks a lot the search! Too bad the Subtext analysis doesn’t go into the static storypoints. Which makes me wonder a bit… how much do you really use or focus on them?


Whoops. I’m late to the party. However, I think everyone has given good advice. The one thing I would add to this, though, is while coming up with these “Source of Conflict leads to Conflict” sentences, ignore the Dramatica terms. The nature of the theory can cause one thing to look like another, solely due to having different context, and you might be shoehorning your story without even realizing it.

Now, on to the interpretations.

This sounds like a really cool story! And, from what you’ve told us so far, it sounds like your Objective Story is an internal domain, either Psychology or Mind. It also seems like you really do intend to write a Stop story, which means you’re Main Character would be in Mind or Psychology. However, without more context about the Influence Character and the Relationship Story, I hesitate to make a choice here.

The key thing in all of this, though, especially when writing your Source of Conflict to Conflict sentences is to remember: It is not about what the characters perceive, but what you, @Niandra, actually construct/mean.


Hi Hunter,

thanks a lot for your feedback and input. It’s good to know that my choice of Stop as growth has its merits ( I was starting to doubt that). I’ve spent the day writing up different sentences without using Dramatica terms and have narrowed the topic of my theme down to a concept I want to write about (acceptance versus tolerance). Going through my previous notes and storyform trials I realised I have been circling around these two items for quite some time using terms like faith and trust. I’ve also decided that to me the two items are part of the mind domain and that they are processes within a fixed mindset. One is preconsious and the other is subconscious. I came to this conclusion using KTAD but also realised that I’m not sure if I’m using KTAD correctly. So in the Mind K = Memories, T = Considerations, A = Preconsious and D = subconscious, right? Does this structure also work on the other domains and is it also the same on the lower levels? If i remember correctly the model gets warped the lower you get, but I can’t remember seeing a diagram with KTAD shown at all levels, does this exist?

I’m still having problems deciding which domain is the OS and which the MC, so I think I’ll go back to testing the sentences out with different Dramatica terms. it seems clear to me that coming into contact with unconditional love is what causes the MC to change, to me that is commitment. The IC and RS are still mostly invisible to me. Can I figure out the OS and MC domain without the IC and RS?

Take with a grain of salt. It’s a portion I’m still learning.

Yes, your KTAD is correct here, and yes it does work down to and including the Variation level. However, the Elements can be and are rotated/twisted. As far as I know, there isn’t anything that shows exactly how that is, but it really doesn’t matter. At that deep in the model, it’s usually easier to think of it like so:

  • Avoidance in the context of Commitment
  • Avoidance in the context of Delay
  • Avoidance in the context of Self-Interest
  • Avoidance in the context of Closure

You can see how much different Avoidance would look in each these contexts, and it works for each of the elements.

I strongly recommend against this because of their interactions. Without knowing at least one more domain, nothing is locked in. It would be very easy to interpret the MC as either Psychology or Mind, and thus interpret the OS as the other.* Determining your either your IC or your RS would solidify the domains.

*See the Incredibles 2 post for a (possible) example of this.
I’m still convinced that there isn’t a definite MC/IC pair, which lead to the different interpretations of the OS as either Physics or Psychology, and the RS interpreted as the other.

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Awesome! Glad it helped. It’s really just a version of Jim’s question “how is that a problem?” I think many of us had a different view of what he was asking than he did, so it was a much harder question than it had to be. After several discussions and much research about what conflict is and how to apply it, I cam up with that. I tend to be extremely linear in my approach, so breaking the “how is this a problem” question down into separate pieces where I could see the connection between source of conflict and conflict was a huge help to me and probably the only way i was ever going to be able to move forward.

Keep in mind that that’s how i dumb those down for me and probably aren’t the most fully representative descriptions of those terms. Something that seems to help me figure out the difference between two dynamic opposed terms is to think of one of them as being external and one internal. Again, that’s probably not going to offer the best representation of a set of terms, but it can be a start. For instance, I think of Precon as being an external reaction even though something like “being calm” might seem more internal, and I think of Subcon as being an internal reaction.

Or if I were trying to understand the difference between Being and Becoming, I would think of Being as more external because the character(s) representing this item isn’t changing internally even if your gist seems more internal, something like “fulfilling the role of mother figure”. And Becoming would be the more internal version of it.

And I’m just borrowing that idea from the Genre level description of Universe and Physics as external and Mind and Psych as internal.

I think i actually read it more this way the first time and didn’t trust my interpretation of it. I’m going to reduce your description down to something like, “the characters believe they are free from tyranny and that’s a problem”. The picture that pops into my mind when reading that would probably be treated as a Mind problem, a belief about the system in which they live. Though, again, that could change depending on context of the story.

So the characters have this belief that they will stop believing, but that’s all just at the Genre level, the most zoomed out, least detailed picture of the story. It doesn’t tell us anything about the Plot yet, so you need to zoom in one level to describe the events of the story that lead to the characters giving up that belief. If your Plot Concern and Goal are Preconscious, then, Plotwise, innate responses-the adundance of, the lack of, the stifling of, or whatever-will create conflict while an innate response–again, the abundance of, lack of, stifling of, or whatever–will be the central objective. Maybe the goal of the tyrants is to stifle Preconscious behavior, or to bring about a preconscious behavior. Maybe the goal of those under tyranny is to act Preconsciously. Whatever the goal is, maybe seeing how hard it is to act preconsciously in this system, or that they can only act preconsciously, is what shows them that they do in fact live under tyranny allowing them to drop that Genre-level belief.

YES! This is an absolute must! You want to create your story in your terms and not just relate everything to these weird, alien words like Preconscious.


Thanks! I’ve been mulling over where I would place my story’s definition of acceptance and tolerance in the Universe and Activity classes and noticed I would place them completely differently. Somehow when I look at the issue as an external problem they become K and T instead of A and D. I’m trying to understand why that is. In the process I realised that I never really understood why Obtaining is in the lower half and understanding in the upper half of the quad. To me understanding is internal as is learning so both should be in the lower half. Obtaining and doing are external. Does the division between internal and external shift between the quads? I feel like I’m missing something obvious! Thinking of the variation level the variations under obtaining define it as something internal (morality, attitude etc.). But how can the term obtaining describe an intern aspect of activity.
Basically what I’m trying to understand is why I strongly disagree with placing acceptance and tolerance on doing and obtaining while it seems right to place them on Becoming + being and subconscious + preconscious. I have a similar problem with the Universe quad. I decided on these types using distinctions of ktad, internal vs external and state vs process. Continuing this evaluation on the upper half of the Dramatica chart is throwing me completely off balance. :cry: Is it just the chosen terms?
@Greg thanks a lot for your insights! I have to reread and digest them when my mind is more at rest and not driven by the desire to grab a Dramatica theory book, throw it on the ground and stomp it to bits! Hmmpf no that thought isn’t really satisfying either. I’ve come to like Dramatica too much. Maybe you can help me understand why the activity quad seems so off kilter?


Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to this one, and I’ve tried to work it out before. I also think that trying to go much further in this direction (internal vs external and state vs process) will lead one off track from writing. (Especially since everything on that chart is actually a process, even something like The Past, which doesn’t look like a process on it’s own.)

However, the following has helped me in better evaluating the terms and applying them to my work. I don’t actually have explanations for the following, as when worded this way the terms become extremely obvious to me. Hopefully, if they aren’t, then others will have explanations.


  • The Past - (Conflict sourced by) Knowledge in the context of Universe
  • Progress - (Conflict sourced by) Ability in the context of Universe
  • The Future - (Conflict sourced by) Desire in the context of Universe
  • The Present - (Conflict sourced by) Thought in the context of Universe


  • Understanding - (Conflict sourced by) Knowledge in the context of Physics
  • Doing - (Conflict sourced by) Ability in the context of Physics
  • Obtaining - (Conflict sourced by) Desire in the context of Physics
  • Learning - (Conflict sourced by) Thought in the context of Physics


  • Conceptualizing - (Conflict sourced by) Knowledge in the context of Psychology/Desire
  • Being - (Conflict sourced by) Ability in the context of Psychology
  • Becoming - (Conflict sourced by) Desire in the context of Psychology
  • Conceiving - (Conflict sourced by) Thought in the context of Psychology/Desire

[If the following paragraph confuses you, ignore it.] The one note I have here is that the Conceiving/Conceptualizing dynamic pair has messed me up a few times. When viewed as within a context of Desire (instead of Psychology), I find they make more sense. I also liken them to drawing concept art (Conceptualizing) and coming up with what to draw in the first place (Conceiving).


  • Memory - (Conflict sourced by) Knowledge in the context of Mind
  • Preconscious - (Conflict sourced by) Ability in the context of Mind
  • Subconscious - (Conflict sourced by) Desire in the context of Mind
  • Conscious - (Conflict sourced by) Thought in the context of Mind

You can see in the above that each of the terms has a different feel to it, but if you take the same piece of KTAD from each of the four lists (to get, say, Knowledge in the context of Universe or Physics or Psychology or Mind), you can see how conflict sourced by this would feel similar in some ways, but utterly different in others. That’s one of the strengths of Dramatica. It includes context within it’s premises, instead of ripping it out a la Hero’s Journey.

FYI, you just solved an issue I was having with my own story, having to think through all that. Thank you!
(You allowed me to double down on my chosen Domains and Concerns, in case you were wondering.)