Choosing domains of Psychology vs. Mind

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.)


The more you learn, the more you’re gonna feel this way. It’s a great feeling to have, though! Especially since the reason you feel this way changes. Does it ever get easier? Eventually, I think… Parts do, at least.

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The Subtext outlining feature doesn’t (at present) focus on them – it’s all Drivers, Signposts and PSR Beats. It’s worth remembering that in theory Dramatica describes the way our minds actually work – so if I don’t think you need to cover all of the story points for the story to be “complete”. From a practical perspective, one thing I’m focused on is how much is really necessary to develop before writing. It’s really easy to slip into overkill.

So I think this:

is absolutely correct. Personally, I’ve had a bit of a blind spot here, so I try not to even think about internal versus external, just the actual definition. Gists are helpful too.

That said, this:

is absolutely amazing. I feel like a bunch of lightbulbs just went off in my head!


Thanks a lot for your quick responses!
I just remembered that at some level the separation between internal and external becomes horizontal instead of vertical. I think at the element level.

So happy some part of my constant ramblings helped! :blush: I always feel like I’m only taking from this lovely community!

To me all items on the chart can be seen as a process or a state, depending on the question you ask the wise Dramatica oracle aka the context of your problem or story etc. Like the view on a story seeing the signposts or the journeys. Both exist and Dramatica shows you both. In the end it’s the authors decision what to focus on.
So for example acceptance can be a state as well as a process. When figuring out where I wanted to place it, I would ask myself what is it more. Turned out I see it in the context of what I want to write as a desire and primarily as a fixed state, tolerance while also being a state became a process or activity between two states of acceptance. That’s how I decided it goes in the upper right corner. Now if I decide that I want to focus on tolerance then I would choose Precon as a concern, if acceptance is my focus then subcon should help me explore the topic at hand. When trying to figure out which class to choose for my still elusive IC and RS obtaining and future wouldn’t be my choice. But I guess this is one of those situations when Dramatica is telling you something you haven’t yet realised about your story and you just need to trust in the theory.
Since I’m still questioning the dynamics of the story I’m wondering if the divergence between the quads and my expectation of what should be where are due to the dynamic choices my mind seems to be set on. We’ll see I guess :smile:
Anyway thanks a lot, knowing I’m not missing something obvious has eased my mind. I hope now I can finally get some sleep :relaxed:

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Yes psychology is definitely the odd one out on the class level to me as well! Viewing it in the context of desire is a great help! As for conceiving and conceptualizing I distinguish them in a similar fashion.

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Yes I definitely see your point. When I write in a language other than English I’ve noticed that I tend to search for ktad and internal and external factors because I often feel like I’m creating a new table with new/own definitions and I worry that I might inadvertently change the context of the quads’ relationships. To me it definitely is a battle deciding how much theory is necessary. My natural inclination is to find out as much as I can before applying something. Not always practical


If you replaced everything on the chart with KTAD, i’m not sure if K would always be in the upper left corner or not. I usually treat it like it would be.

As far as what I was saying about looking at a dynamic pair as one being internal and one external, that’s not always easy, and it’s just a guess. A way of distinguishing one from another to start getting an idea of the differences. Learning and Understanding used to both seem internal while Obtaining and Doing both seemed external. And Understanding and Obtaining seemed like states while Learning and Doing seemed like processes. But that would be quite mixed up indeed. I’d say Understanding felt maybe more internal than Learning because Learning is the physical process of gathering information, like searching for clues at a crime scene rather than…i don’t know, internalizing math theories or whatever. But anyway, I agree with Hunter, going too far in this direction becomes less helpful.