Developing Characters using Dramatica Archetypes

Coming back to our discussion just want to share my approach to develop and fine tune characters using dramatica archetypes.

Characters are complex and usually never black and white. However, archetypes (in Dramatica) are meant to be a perspective and a start point for me for character development.

After I have the story form completed and written a first treatment I am going to develop and fine tune my characters.

At this stage I usually have a pretty good feeling of the characters - even though I might not be sure yet about each role of a character (from a Dramatica view point).

I first start with archetypes to figure out who is who and why s/he is in the story. This is often surprising as I thought differently about the one or the other character in the beginning.

The steps I take before I start character development are (in short):

  1. Story Idea
  2. Story Form in Dramatica
  3. Characters
  4. Treatment
  5. Character Fine Tuning

For character development and fine tuning I use the excel spreadsheet below.

My cheat sheet has three sheets:

  1. Goal (what is the OS goal and who is who)
  2. Dramatica (what’s the problem the human mind is trying to solve and what is the perspective of each archetype)
  3. Char (what does each archetype element mean how does the character solve the problem - in context to the OS story goal)

I use the cheat sheet during scene writing as reference.

Once I have the char cheat sheet completed I outline the scenes and look (in every scene) how I could use and play out the archetype/character elements. I am just using the element description as a source for inspiration writing dialog.

The outline of each scene is as follow:

  • Synopsis (paragraph from subtext treatment)
  • Focus of Scene (could be an element from the story form)
  • Action (four bullet points following PRCO)
  • Elements (to be played out int his scene, just as ideas)

Hope this is helpful for other writers.


This is extremely useful @Gernot!

I think even just the way you’ve laid it out in Excel is useful. It’s so much cleaner than the way it prints out from Dramatica. And it’s really great to tie it the OS that way (which is how it’s supposed to be).


I like your approach. I couldn’t download the Excel file though. Could you please report the working link.

Just checked the link, it works on my side. If it doesn’t work just PM me your email and I will send it to you