Dramatica in Schools

That is so AWESOME to hear! Wait until that’s all they ever talk about at the dinner table…:smile:


I’ve been learning Dramatica over 15 years and still don’t understand what I need to. I find it quite a challenge to show her, at her level, what Dramatica represents and how to set up a story. But this time around I do understand it a bit more than I did when I used it with my first novel.


that’s awesome, my process for introducing people to story forming or analyzing with dramatica is getting them to answer the plot dynamics and character dynamics questions.

In my experience, if you can help someone fully understand the plot dynamics and character dynamics questions, they will easily be able to answer the remaining os options or mc questions to create a story form.

Then you can guide them through expressing the plot progression using the plot sequence report.

This is the process I used.

I watched a shirt item with a 7 year old and they were able to answer the plot dynamics and character dynamics questions about the story.

After the 8 essential questions I get them to pick the story goal in the story engine.

Then I get them to pick a problem for their main character.

By then the story engine has come up with a single story form, I save a screen shot then we go and look at the psr then I begin to help them weave their narrative.

Where we get stuck we come and look at the throughline appreciations.

I’m working on a standard But flexible script I use when helping people story form with dramatica, I can share it with you, once I’ve edited it well if you like.


I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and of course I love the idea. But, my years have experience with Dramatica and have taught me that some thing that are self-evidently a good idea to me are not a self-evidently good idea to everyone.

Take calculus. Most people see it and ask, “But when am I ever going to use this?”

So, beyond Dramatica being interesting as a thing by itself, how do you see it expanding and enhancing a classroom discussion about a text like Huckleberry Finn or Crime and Punishment?

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Lots of ways. For one, Dramatica standardizes narrative language so there’s no confusion about what, say, a Main Character is.
And classrooms love to talk about themes. Usually these are storytelling themes like “death keeps appearing, the friend dies, the plant dies, the black skies represent death”, but with Dramatica you can suddenly discuss objective structural themes of the actual message of the story.
Instead of asking vague questions like “how did the MC change?” you could ask specific questions like “how did the MC Change?”
You can use Dramatica to discuss justifications and whether students accept or reject the givens of the argument.
You can discuss how things like problems of Pursuit might apply to any given problem in real life.
I feel like we could go on.

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Also, it’s a lot easier to ask “when am I ever going to use calculus?” than it is to say “when am I ever going to use problem solving?”

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Dramatica seems particularly prone to misunderstanding.

The risk is that you get people teaching an incomplete or incorrect version of the theory, which then becomes as subjective as anything else. Is taking that risk better than not teaching it? (Serious question).


LOL. That’s amazing.

This is a terrific question to begin with. Is it actually better to talk about how Luke Skywalker has changed versus how we know he has Changed?

You’re arguing here that a discussion about “death” is sub-par to an argument about, say, how Death reflects on the structural theme of, say, Permission, because it’s more specific and/or more specific to the story, and so likely to be a better conversation.

Good question–probably a better question. Nevertheless, I want to assume people get the real deal.


Well, I’m not arguing that you do away with conversations about Death, but that you supplement them with or include additional conversations about Permission.

I’m also assuming best case scenario here. Teaching myself Dramatica over the Internet has certainly led to an adundance of misunderstanding. Perhaps I’d have done better in a classroom setting.


Only if the teacher didn’t learn from the internet, though…


I’m going to say yes, taking the risk that someone will teach Dramatica wrong is worth it because 1. From a perspective of “Dramatica is the most correct way to approach story” people who aren’t teaching dramatica are already teaching story wrong and are, at best, teaching things that sort of hint at Dramatica theory but never quite get to a BASIC LEVEL OF DRAMTICA and therefore it wouldn’t be any different than what we already have, 2 the more it’s taught the more ppl will be able to teach it correctly, and 3 there are already teachers that are teaching other incorrect things to students, or teaching correct things incorrectly, so it’s already a risk we take and a problem we deal with.


My 16-year old daughter loves teaching her teachers about why characters are always saying “You and I are both alike” all the time :laughing:


Ahahahaha! I love that!

No fear chaps! I have no intention of destroying your great Book of theory
or it’s reputaion. I am unqualified to teach Dramatica. So if your
intention to send me that email was to get me to reconsider, no need, my
friends, I had no intention anyhow. Emm.

Hey, Emm, I can only assume that you are talking about my reply to your post (unless someone else sent you a direct e-mail).

I have zero intention of getting anyone to reconsider. I’m asking a serious question.

Let’s take Jiim’s daughter’s uppity nature (ha). She tells the teachers about the you-and-I scene, and now the students can all talk about how the same problem (some theme of the book) looks to two people who are the same in one regard, but different in another – that deepens the conversation!

Maybe someone is able to use the concept of “Evaluation” to talk about how a certain problem is magnified for one character because of how he measures it – that’s cool!

What else would Dramatica do in the classroom to make a discussion better or more interesting?

I’m all for Dramatica in schools. Wish we had it in school!

@lakis I don’t think you can teach dramatica wrong if one follows the plot progression generated by the story engine.

For someone to teach dramatica wrong they’d have to hack the story engine.

I teach dramatica to people but we always stick with the plot progression generated by the story engine.

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When I first started learning Dramatica, I was helped by people (who are no longer around) who did not fully understand the theory. They were doing their best, but did not actually teach me the right things.

I mean, they thought a sunset was a timelock, LOL, amiright?

But seriously, they explained the theory wrong, so even though I had the engine, I was using it incorrectly.

Not only that, but some of the ideas are subtle enough that even people with the best intentions explain thing incorrectly.


Watching some movies that are in the analysis section could be fun. You two could watch one she likes, without checking out the storyform ahead of time. You can find out that way what part of the theory she likes, and would use in her writing. Everyone’s brain is unique. Some aspects might bore her.

I’d say that even though you had everything explained correctly, it’s nearly and it may even be dispassionate to consciously consider the 75 story points as you write the first draft.

Our minds are different, the story points that inspire an individual as they work on a story form differ.

For example, once I’ve created a story form, I get the PS report and then I work through it then I may check the throughline appreciations after going through the first draft.

In my experience, even if all you use is the psr, the throughline appreciations specific to your story points will appear.

Jim hull’s process also doesn’t consider all the information from the psr, Jim will usually weave in only the plot sequence for the os, and maybe the mc or rs, he tends to leave the ic sequences to his intuition.

Even if we all knew how a quad ought to be expressed, the nature of what we’d say with a quad and the order of saying it would differ.

Different minds will express the 75 story points differently and consider them subjectively as they work through actually writing and completing a narrative.

For one, I use the psr to write all kinds of material outside the realm of story and it works for me.