Dramatica in Schools

Just to point out an extreme example, someone in the forum tried to sell the idea of five acts – the first signpost would get repeated in the last act.

I’m not talking about using all the points. I’m talking about just getting things totally wrong.


That’s pretty extreme!

But even less extreme things can cause confusion, e.g. when is something a Situation (Universe) and when is it Activities (Physics)?

I would bet that 90+ percent of people when first learning Dramatica use story points as brainstorming for storytelling rather than encoding the source of conflict. You end up with an outline with a bunch of stuff in it but still no actual story (I speak from experience).


I would put that number much higher than 90%.

Oddly, getting this wrong in a class, but still walking out understanding that the same problem looks different from the four relevant perspectives is still a valuable thing to know.


yes dramatica has four signposts. The idea of five acts from the dramatica point of view is wrong

I’ve found the progressive story points and PSR helpful for delivering narrative power and storytelling even without encoding static plot points at the beginning.

The static plots show you what the story is about, the progressive story points show you how those issues play out and how they get resolved.

The progressive story points is where you tell the story points, the story points tend to serve as boundaries for the plot progression.

1 Like

If you don’t know how to use the terms or the ideas properly, how can you even generate a plot progression? Or how can you do so with any confidence that the story will be sharing the message you want to send?


I’ve come to the opinion that, for many writers at least, the best way to develop an initial idea is to put Dramatica aside (except for the four throughlines concept which is sort of impossible to forget) and let it develop naturally. I think a lot of people struggle to find a storyform for an idea when it’s only half-baked, wasting time and possibly messing up their own concept of the story.

I’m not sure when the right time is to figure out the storyform and use it to aid your writing – once you’ve started the first draft? Once you’ve finished it? It might depend on the kind of writer you are and how long the story is.


the dramatica theory book on page 17 gives details on how a writer can approach dramatica

There is a certain intuitive “click” that I think has to happen, and there is very little any active theorizing can do to make that happen.

On the whole, I agree with you. But I liken it to sports a bit: you train during the week so you don’t have to think during the game. Is that putting Dramatica aside, or is that getting in into your bones? At any rate, ultimately, a story must be passionately felt.

PS. The thing of mine that you quoted (paraphrase: the same problem looks different depending on where you stand) is a good thing to know generally—I wasn’t even thinking about that as a storytelling skill. Just a life skill.


i found myself learning more about dramatica when i taught it to someone else


8 posts were split to a new topic: Working with the Plot Sequence Report