Commonly Misunderstood Definitions

Which seem to be the most commonly misunderstood domain, type, variation, and element definitions within the context of Dramatica? Or which definitions seem to commonly be understood in a limited way?

For example, Accurate and Non-Accurate can often be understood in the context of Dramatica as “within or without tolerances,” respectively. For me, that was an understanding of Dramatica’s use of those words that was initially blind to me because it deviated enough from my non-Dramatica use of those words.


Cool topic idea.

I was just thinking today how, with the Variation quad of Fate, Destiny, Prediction, Interdiction, I often tend to think of those items as relating to the more metaphysical, fortune-telling type concepts. But that’s way too limiting, it can be any way of dealing with those concepts. Like predicting something based on science / math, or even as mundane as looking at someone’s calendar to predict where they’ll be. Amazon predicting what you’re most likely to buy based on past purchases; knowing someone’s fate in a game of chess because of the first dozen moves, etc.

Metaphysical stuff works too, but you don’t want to limit yourself to that.

Another one: in the Windows version of the software, Holistic Problem Solving Style (aka Female Mental Sex) is listed as “Intuitive.” That’s a terrible way to look at it, since Linear thinkers can still be intuitive. If you have Windows, you need to always translate it to Holistic in your head.


All of the Concerns in the Psychology quad. Well, Becoming isn’t that bad. But the definitions of Being, Conceiving, and Conceptualizing are hard to understand in their original terminology while the new definitions (Playing a Role, Conceiving an Idea and Developing a Plan) are clearer but more limiting – and there’s a risk the new definitions lead to storytelling instead of the source of conflict.

It’s a little off topic but I have trouble sometimes with dynamic pair Elements like Equity and Inequity. If you can reverse appreciations, how do you know which is the problem and the solution? It seems like you could encode them identically.

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It’s where you focus attention in the narrative – a lack of Equity is not the same thing as too much Inequity.

If instead you think of the axis of one half of a quad as a sliding scale of process, it helps:

lack of Equity - favortism
Equity - don’t rock the boat
too much Equity - participation trophies
too much Inequity - slavery
Inequity - a splinter in your mind
lack of Inequity - i’m ok means you’re ok


Thanks – I think I’m starting to understand…

So it’s kind of like saying “not being fair” isn’t the same as “being unfair” – being unfair implies something active, the presence of something, maybe something actively sustained, rather than just a lack or absence. Is that sort of getting at it?

Maybe it would be clearer if we had a different word that wasn’t just the negation (e.g. “free” as opposed to “uncontrolled”).

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I think the problem is the English languages preference for the top half of the quad…Equity, Proven, Accurate, Control, Acceptance - a linear bias of communication for linear-minded folks (designed by linear-minded folks).

It was easier them, for a linear mind, to simply think in terms of opposites: Inequity, Unproven, Non-Accurate, Uncontrolled, and Non-Acceptance - you’d be hard pressed to find true “words” to fit what that area is supposed to represent.

The words you’re looking for become the very thing that holds you back.

So the best you can do is work your way through it - until you have an intuitive understanding of it – and then you can apply it back to your work.


For me it can sometimes be a little like trying to find the direction of ‘up’ while floating through space. It doesn’t exist until you point and declare ‘that’s up’.

I find that when I get to the problem level, I just have to have a really strong knowledge of where the conflict is coming from. Is MCs problem equity because he wants fairness, or is it inequity because that’s all he sees? If the MC is looking for equity in an imbalanced world, you as the author have to sort of decide where the Storymimd is looking by deciding where to connect the conflict. Does conflict X happen because MC is looking for equity? Or does conflict X happen because the world is imbalanced? Looking at the Solition, Focus, and Direction can sort of help pinpoint a tricky problem, too, of course.


When you put it that way it makes it clearer (in my case it’s definitely the latter – which what the storyform is, so I think I’ve got it right).

Yeah this is what I’m working on. I find the most helpful thing is to lean on the gists as much as possible. At the Domain/Concern level it’s been most useful to watch movies with similar arrangements. Maybe I should target that for the Element level too.


For me, this is more of a process than a state in that I might understand one term and not another, but then I’ll feel like I understand the one I didn’t before and suddenly start questioning the one I thought I understood.

I’ve seen before where maybe Chris or Jim have said certain terms, like Linear and Holistic, weren’t necessarily precisely accurate terms but were, rather, approximations. I don’t know that that applies to all terms but I’ve started thinking that maybe it does. I mean, if everything can be boiled down to KTAD as seen through the lens of a particular perspective, then it seems that KTAD are approximations that can look like anything on the chart, and any other term on the chart is some approximation of KTAD within it’s given perspective. And I’ve seen before that the 64 elements, though repeated across the four Domains, should really be 256 individual elements, which also seems to lend credibility to the idea that they are all approximations.

That would all seem to have some bearing on a conversation about which terms are understood in a limited way.


illustrating the four quad terms in relation to each other helps.

I tell them people I help with dramatica to first express the item they feel is heaviest in their quad

Then they illustrate the second heaviest, then the third heaviest, then the fourth heaviest

I feel the quad elements were programmed such that you see the inequity when all items are illustrated not in isolation,

But you’ll find there’s always an element that feels heaviest in your mind (start with expressing that one) , I like to think of it as the mass item


Yes, and I’ll say it again. The Dramatica labels are shorthand for far more subtle and generally inclusive meaning. That is why thinking of the terms as placeholders for the definitions is more accurate than embracing the simplicity of the labels themselves.