Driver and Passenger Quads

I may be missing something obvious, which wouldn’t be the first time with Dramatica, but how are the driver and passenger character quads determined, and where on the software are they represented?

I read in the Dramatica story book how 'In simple stories, the Protagonist, Antagonist, Guardian, and Contagonist are all major drivers of the story." (Philips & Huntley, 2009, p31).

I thought, probably erroneously, that all stories had these 4 objective characters as drivers, leaving the other four as passengers. But I’m sure that is not the case.

Any help where to find further enlightenment on Driver/Passenger quads? Or are they something a long time beginner like me shouldn’t worry too much about?

@Daniel Are you asking how you can assign these archetypes to OS characters in the software? If you go to the Assign Characteristics screen, create a bunch of characters, then you can click on the “Character Type” dropdown menu and assign the characters to their archetypal roles. However, this doesn’t work for complex characters, which is what I think most people create. It’s definitely not true that all stories have these these quads neatly laid out like that.

When it comes to OS roles, the most important ones to consider are Protagonist and Antagonist, specifically figuring out who is Pursuit and who is Avoid in relationship to the Story Goal. I don’t think most people necessarily go into depth worrying about assigning other OS characteristics – I myself have found it to be time-sink that might be better left to intuition. The more important questions are about figuring out the character and plot dynamics, the static plot points and the four throughlines (i.e. what you see on the Story Engine tab).

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I wouldn’t worry too much about them. Which archetypes are Drivers vs. Passengers doesn’t change; but many (probably most) stories have complex characters instead of archetypes. So for example there won’t be a true Guardian, you’ll have one player representing Help and another representing Conscience.

I also find, and believe this is true for most writers, that you aren’t really “free” to choose the objective characteristics. It’s something that’s done subconsciously as you write and get a feel for the character. (But it can be useful to recognize what characteristic or archetype a character has AFTER they’ve demonstrated that to you in your story.)


Thanks for your response. You’ve helped clarify things a bit more.
Time-sink? Man, I find the whole of Dramatica has that possibility, although it’s a rabbit hole I can’t resist falling into.


Thank you-very helpful-interesting you chose the Help and Conscience as an example of splitting up an archetype as I’ve just done this in my current story.

I do try and work in tandem with Dramatica rather than feeling I am either Kowtowing to it or battling it.

I’ve been using it, as much as time and ability has allowed, for about 4 years. But now is the time to take the bigger leap of faith. Thank goodness for forums such as this.


Hi @Daniel
I think I probably use Character Elements more than most. With it being the most granular focus of the structure, it’s often said that the character elements get lost in the noise of the story.

It’s also worth remembering that character elements are less “what type of person is this character?”, and more “what kind of function does this character have in relation to the story goal?”.

I did lose a lot of time in the beginning, when I tried applying character elements to players at outset (as @Lakis said, it became a time sink to me), but, right now, I’m enjoying using them to fill gaps and give characters definitively different aspects and outlooks, whilst I’m pantsing between the story structure parts that I do have figured out. The way that I apply them currently is to write a short sentence for each element to give me some flavour, and together they give me an idea of how that character feels/acts/approaches/evaluates in relation to the story goal. As I’ve always struggled with dialogue, I’ve found this super helpful

For example, in my current NaNoWriMo work (which I found much easier to plan with @jhull 's Subtext), my “Protagonist” has the Pursuit and Feeling Motivations, Proaction Methodology, Hunch Evaluation, and Desire Purpose.

Character X is driven to ACT to determine what is needed to achieve the GOAL and head straight for it. He makes DECISIONS with an emotional sense of how things are going. He APPROACHES problems by acting straight away, in the moment. Character X assesses his progress as positive when he can make headway based on insufficient or circumstantial evidence - he doesn’t need the complete picture to come to a conclusion. His motivations and methods move him towards achieving a future that will make him happier.


That’s such a good tip, the short sentence for each Element. I will try that.